Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The King of Orange County

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STUART PFEIFER: Someone opened fire...

...spraying bullets throughout the limousine.

TERRI LENE PEAKE: All Mac could say

was "Tell my mom and dad I love them."

And those were his last words.

NARRATOR: A larger-than-life

Orange County club owner was suddenly gunned down.

There were a lot of people threatening him.

DARRYL FINNEY: 'Cause in business,

you got jealous people.

They had not been getting along.

Had deteriorated fast.

NARRATOR: Investigators would uncover

a dangerous underworld

of vicious competition.

GRANT GULICKSON: We started focusing on

who the different players were

at the clubs.

PEAKE: The police were going in there

and questioning people, but nobody was talking.

A man from Florida says he knows something.

RICK BAKER: He was kind of an outsider.

They didn't expect

this is the guy that would want to have him killed.

NARRATOR: March 9, 1989 was a quiet night

in the picturesque canyons of Brea, California.

At the northern edge of Orange County,

Brea's rolling hills had allowed one man a view

of his empire to the north

while plotting his expansion into the gilded south,

until a fateful 911 call broadcast a tragic turn.

GULUCKSON: I was in bed asleep when I got the phone call.

There had been a homicide

at the largest and nicest estate out in Carbon Canyon.

Around 12:35 a.m.,

a limousine meandered up the canyon

into the foothills of Brea.

Pulls up to the gate of this massive estate.

Right there, the gunman opened fire.

GULICKSON: We headed out to look at the crime scene

and see what we had as far as witnesses.

WELBORN: The guy was shot at the front gate to his

estate up in the hills.

GULICKSON: The shooting took place down at the gate.

When we got to the gate, there were police officers down ther.

We had to try to avoid running over

the shell casings that were sitting in the driveway.

As I recall, there were somewhere around

30 empty casings that were found at the scene.

We later came to discover that the-the homicide

had a machine gun used to actually commit the murder.

To my knowledge, there had never been

a-a homicide using a machine gun in Brea.

We drove up the driveway to the house.

When we got up there, there were a couple

of police officers there along with a limousine.

That's where the body was.

The rear passenger side window was shattered.

Numerous bullet holes, not only in the glass

but also in the door post.

There was a driver on the scene.

The driver's name was Bob Berg.

After talking to Mr. Berg,

we came to discover that the victim of the shooting

was Horace McKenna, also known as Big Mac.

The house, the limo and everything else at the estate

belonged to Mr. McKenna.

Bob had told us

that they had come home, he had stopped at the gate,

opened up the gate, climbed back into the limo

to drive up the hill, he heard the machine gun go of.

Someone opened fire,

spraying bullets throughout the limousine,

striking McKenna numerous time.

GULICKSON: And at that point, Bob Berg sped up the hill

to the estate and called the police.

WELBORN: At the time that Big Mac

was shot and killed,

Big Mac's son Michael,

he's the only one up at the top of the hill.

GULICKSON: Obviously somebody wanted Mr. McKenna dead,

to be firing that many rounds that quickly.

That-- It wasn't a warning.

They wanted to make sure

that they took him down.

We had crime scene folks

process the scene.

There was quite a few cigarette butts

behind the cinder block wall that supported the gate.

Which made us suspect

that the person had perhaps been hiding behind that block wall

for the limo to stop.

PFEIFER: Big Mac McKenna was able to manage

a couple of words while he died out there

outside of his home.

PEAKE: All Mac could say was "Tell my mom

and dad I love them."

And those were his last words.

WELBORN: When I was a reporter at the Orange County Register,

I got a call from the city editor saying,

"There's been a murder near you,

and would you mind checking it out?"

As you're entering the propert, you see this six-car garage.

No cars are parked inside the garage,

'cause inside the garage,

we found out was a live tiger,

and an entire alligator environment.

And a live jaguar.

It's just beyond our realm of reality.

Wo, it was quite an extravagant layout.

NARRATOR: Wealth is clearly common in the O.C.

But investigators and reporters alike were astounded to find

such a flamboyant display of excess at the crime scene.

Who was Horace McKenna?

And what else would be uncovered?

WELBORN: They're trying to build his background

as much as they could, and so they're contacting people

in Los Angeles County trying to piece together

who this guy might've been.

GULICKSON: We came to find out, after talking to Mr. Berg and others,

that Horace McKenna was a formr Highway Patrol officer.

He was an interesting character

from what we had been told.

Horace McKenna, also known as Big Mac,

was born in Louisiana.

He was Creole.

He moved to California with his parents as a youngste.

Wanted to be a police officer.

He was a leader, for sure.

He was always in charge. Large and in charge.

But he also had a great sense of humor.

So, in 1982 when Big Mac introduced himself to me,

he says, "Hi. I'm Big Mac.

"I understand you have a boyfriend,

but when and if that changes, let me know."

He looked like a movie star.

I couldn't stop thinking about him.

I think I fell in love right then and there.

FINNEY: The first time

I met Horace McKenna, I was about ten or 11.

And he'd pick us up one at a time and he'd fly down

the street on the motorcycle with the siren on.

PEAKE: Big Mac loved his Harley-Davidson.

He really was an entertainer at heart.

He was the star of the show.

As I got older, I realized

what an impact he was doing for the kids in the neighborhood.

He's the kind of a guy that you want to associate with.

-He's magnetic. -PEAKE: And he was so handsome

on that bike, yesiree.

WELBORN: He was a huge man. Six foot si.

Maybe close to 300 pounds.

He made Hulk Hogan look small.

BAKER: He had muscles

that you didn't even know abou.

But he was not a bully.

PEAKE: And he had the biggest heart.

All the men wanted to be him and all the women wanted him.

They couldn't handle him, though.


NARRATOR: How did this former Highway Patrol officer,

regarded by friends as a gentle giant,

end up living like a king at the top of Orange County?

Could his rise to riches have been connected

to his ultimate downfall?

BAKER: Mac made his money playing poker.

After three days of playing cards one time,

Horace McKenna ended up with $80,000-plus.

WELBORN: Which started him in his investment process.

He resigned as a CHP officer and he went

from this big goofy guy on a motorcycle

to an investor in private businesses

and became very wealthy in a hurry.

GULICKSON: Well, we were told

that Horace McKenna owned

a number of strip clubs in Los Angeles County.

PFEIFER: Big Mac McKenna owned Bare Elegance,

there was the Jet Strip and there was Valley Ball.

BAKER: He was Bill Gates.

You know, he was Bloomberg.

PEAKE: When I started working at the Jet Strip

and made friends with Big Mac,

he very much had a chameleon personality.

When he was at the strip club, he was the kingpin,

but when we were at the ranch, away from the clubs,

he wanted to just relax and be his real self.

Brea is a really slow-paced,

quiet community.

PEAKE: It was actually green and beautiful.

It was just rolling mountains and hills.

We had rattlesnakes and-and deer

and hawks flying in the air.

NARRATOR: It's par for the course for the O.C. business elite

to separate work from home, regardless of the industry.

And Big Mac's oasis above Brea was no different.

PFEIFER: Brea was a nice escape.

He would go home in his limousine to a hilltop

surrounded by his exotic animals

and live the kind of life that he wanted to live.

PEAKE: And it was beautiful.

March 9, 1989,

in the middle of the afternoon.

And I got a call from Rick Baker.

BAKER: "Guess what,"

you know, uh, "Big Mac was just shot."

He said, "Big Mac's been murdered."

FINNEY: The day that

that hit me...

whew, I think I cried like the river.

You know, I don't think I stopped crying

for a couple of hours.

He was my family.

We have so many people that loved him.

We lost an honorable man.

He didn't deserve that.

And he deserved justice.

You never expect someone like that to die.

So strong and so tough.


Sorry, I just miss him so much.

I could have used him the last 30 years.

You know?

PFEIFER: This is not Chicago

in the 1920s.

This is a place

where crimes like this just don't happen.

NARRATOR: This looked like a premeditated hit on Big Mac,

but who had the motive to fell the friendly giant

in such a malicious manner?

The first place to look was at Big Mac's inner circle.

GULICKSON: Most homicides

are gonna be committed by somebody

they work with, live with or play with.

Mac had had one son, early to mid-20s.

PFEIFER: There's a lot of crimes that are centered around cash,

and so the Brea police wondered whether McKenna's killing

had a lot to do with money

and opportunity to inherit his wealth.

GULICKSON: We, of course,

had to consider the possibility

that Michael had been involved

or had knowledge of the homicie prior to it happening.

WELBORN: Somebody set fire and burned down

the infamous Mustang Club.

It was the biggest adult entertainment spot

in Orange County.

It was a cutthroat business.

It was really seedy.

BAKER: All the other club owners

had a reason

to be jealous.

They had not been getting along

prior to McKenna's murder.

What have we got here?

NARRATOR: After strip club kingpin Horace "Big Mac" McKenna

was gunned down outside

of his lavish Orange County estate,

investigators looked to whether this was an attempt

by his next of kin at an early inheritance.

GULICKSON: When we spoke to Michael McKenna,

he was very hesitant to share information.

He was upset that we were asking questions.

It caused us concern. It seemed

that he stood to gain some things from his death.

NARRATOR: Could this have been an inside job

ordered by the O.C. heir?

Detectives began digging into what Michael stood to gain

when details emerged that shaded their suspicion.

GULICKSON: I was contacted by

a member of the Los Angeles County D.A.'s Office

who told me that he had been investigating

Mac and some of the strip clubs for a while.

They were taking a percentage off the top

of what the girls were supposed to be making.

He supposedly was skimming off the reported income at the doo.

Anything that you could short the state on,

anything related to a-a cash business.

NARRATOR: Had sordid business practices

led to his ultimate demise?

As it turned out,

Big Mac McKenna had danced on both sides of the law

for most of his professional life.

His record went back

long before he was a wealthy Orange County club owner

to when he was a Los Angeles motorcycle cop.


rode a motorcycle up and down Sunset Boulevard,

enforcing the laws

in one of the most high-profil, electric parts

of Southern California.

BAKER: He had been arrested, and he had lost his job

with the Highway Patrol over in Palm Springs.

He apparently was passing bad paper,

and he had to spend some time in jail.

WELBORN: After his career was over, several years later,

he was charged with running a prostitution ring.

And he spent some time in federal prison off that beef.

NARRATOR: Big Mac's long rap sheet

meant he couldn't actually own

any of his clubs in L.A. or Orange County,

and that had major implications in the investigation,

including Michael McKenna's potential involvement

in his dad's murder.

GULICKSON: We knew that, at some level,

Michael stood

to gain some things from his death.


with Big Mac not having legal title

on any of the clubs, we didn't think

that he likely stood to gain

the assets that McKenna controlled.

We didn't have anything to tie him to the homicide.

NARRATOR: So, if Big Mac didn't own his clubs,

who was holding the legal titl?

GULICKSON: During the course

of the investigation, multiple people

told us that Mike Woods

was the, essentially, front man for McKenna.

PEAKE: I was being told Mike Woods

was the owner of the club

and had his own bodyguards and his own group of friends,

and Mac was the silent owner

that had his own bodyguards

and his own group of friends and girls,

but that Big Mac was really the boss of the club,

and what he said goes.

Big Mac and Mike Woods

were partners together on the Highway Patrol.

PFEIFER: That's how they got to know each other.

When McKenna was forced out of the Highway Patrol,

Woods later followed,

and they decided to open a nightclub together.

BAKER: So, he needed Mike Woods

and his clean record to have him

as the licensee of the entertainment license

and the liquor license.

Neither one of the licenses were in Horace McKenna's name.

PEAKE: Mac couldn't have his name on the paperwork at all

and was a silent partner.

And they would have a distribution,

obviously, of the money and the funds.

PFEIFER: And it was a partnership that initially

led them to a lot of wealth and success.

GULICKSON: From our understanding,

the main person that was gonna benefit

from Horace being gone was Mike Woods.

My understanding was they had not been getting along

prior to McKenna's murder.

PFEIFER: Big Mac and Mike Woods

were like polar opposites.

Big Mac was

a tall, strapping ladies' man.

Life of the party.

And Mike Woods

looked like a frumpy accountant

who did not have

the type of charisma or personality

that McKenna did.

But he was good with the books and with the money.

BAKER: Mike Woods

was more of an elitist.

He wasn't a common

guy next door.

Mike Woods' nickname was Mike "Weird."

PEAKE: When I met Mike Woods, he shook

my hand, and he said, "How would you like

to go to my sister's club and do a wet T-shirt contest?"

Just right like that. That was his only words to me.

And I said, "Okay." And the girls

told me, "It's okay. He's fine.

He's a little weird, but he's safe."

So, I went with Mike Woods

in his white Rolls-Royce

to do a wet T-shirt contest.

So, I did the wet T-shirt contest.

I won that. Got my tips,

and he drove me back to the Jet Strip.

It was a little mind-boggling, actually,

that I went into a stranger's car,

but he was a perfect gentleman.

Mike Woods was a perfect gentleman.

NARRATOR: Big Mac and Mike Woods

were a contrast in styles for sure,

but Woods had no criminal recod or any history of violence.

Would he really stab his partnr in the back?

The two men had helped each other rise

from humble chopper cops to the heights

of upper echelon O.C.

So detectives turned their attention to enemies

Mac and Woods might have had in common:

their competitors.

BAKER: I-In the industry

that Horace McKenna,

Big Mac, was in,

it was a cutthroat business.

PEAKE: You got to remember, back then,

the '80s were pretty crazy in L.A.,

so it was all biker guys that went to those places.

It was really seedy.

BAKER: Oh, you had characters

that would not hesitate if necessary

to take you out.

That was not a problem

with a lot of the owners that were in that business.

GULICKSON: We started focusing on trying to find out

who the different players were at the clubs

and which one of those folks might have had

the incentive to either commit the homicide

or hire the homicide out.

The Wild Goose was another club

in the same area as McKenna's clubs.

We were told McKenna was actually trying to get

the owners together and have the same prices,

and, uh, not everybody was willing to go along.

The Wild Goose suffered a fire of suspicious nature,

and many people seem to think that Mac

had a connection to that arson.

NARRATOR: As investigators probed the brutal shooting

of Horace "Big Mac" McKenna,

rumors floated that a flaming feud

had resulted in arson.

The story spilled

into the heart of Orange Count,

where South O.C. power brokers

were known to look down on their northern rivals.

WELBORN: The Mustang Club in Orange County, Harbor Boulevar,

was the biggest adult entertainment spot

in Orange County.

One day, somebody set fire

and burned down most of the Mustang.

It was pretty much seriously damaged.

And then three months later,

somebody else came back and finished the job

and burned it to the ground. It was never open again.

Was Big Mac trying to buy the Mustang?

Is there some connection there?

When somebody crossed him, he would say,

"It could happen to here, too, just what happened

to the Mustang." So he kind of used that

in his repertoire of threats.

PEAKE: There were a lot of people that hated Mac.

There were a lot of people threatening him.

There was a lot of bad guys floating around.

There was a lot of people had reason to hurt him.

And the police at the time were going in there

and questioning people, but nobody was talking.

We did not have a shortage of potential suspects.

But many of the employees

at the clubs were hesitant to speak with us.

I think some of the employees were scared.

And we didn't have

an opportunity to talk to a lot of patrons.

I'm sure people traveled

from Orange County up to L.A. to these clubs.

I think some didn't want to have their name come up

as somebody who was frequenting these clubs.

NARRATOR: If no one from Mac's world

was showing up to talk to polie about his murder,

every one of them seemed to wat a place at his funeral.

It attracted a legendary collection

of those who knew, loved

and tangled with this towering figure

of the Southern California underworld.

It was a circus.

All the other strippers in town showed up,

which I wasn't too happy about

because the family didn't want that.

They wanted to just have

a very private memorial service

for just the family.

FINNEY: The McKennas were there. They were

hurt and crying, tears.

It was real hard times,

especially for Mike, his son.

He didn't know all of his father's business.

All this stuff thrown in your face right now,

and you got to try to figure out all of this stuff out.

And I felt sorry for Mike because Mike wasn't ready.

He didn't know what to do.

NARRATOR: But while all those who knew Mac well

or even wanted to

had clamored to show up,

the most likely attendee

was suspiciously absent from the grieving crowds.

Mike Woods was MIA.

He was missing in action on the funeral of-of his partner.

This was his partner.

GULICKSON: Several people

from my police department attended

the graveside service.

And when Mike Woods failed

to attend the funeral,

that certainly increased our suspicion.

WELBORN: The relationship

between Michael and Big Mac started to deteriorate,

and it deteriorated fast.

Big Mac was skimming more

and living more of an extravagant lifestyle,

and Michael perhaps knew that law enforcement

was taking a look at their activities.

PFEIFER: Mike Woods

may have also wondered whether

McKenna's personality was gonna bring the police down on him.

Mike Woods didn't like Horace McKenna.

Horace McKenna humiliated him on several occasions.

I literally saw Mac in the office bitch-slap Mike Woods.

It was really degrading. And I loved Mac,

but I just-- I really did feel bad for Mike Woods.

He was terrified of Horace McKenna.

That even gave me more of a reason to say,

"This is the guy that would want to have him killed."

PEAKE: So, what would happen was

the bodyguards would kind of step in

to guard their guys and get them out of the situation.

And English Dave, he was great

at keeping the situation calm between Mac and Mike.

GULICKSON: David Amos,

his name came up

during the investigation.

PFEIFER: He was a part-time actor who had a role,

more or less, as a bodyguard at the clubs.

But that role expanded to part-time owner

after Horace McKenna's killing.

The fact that Mike Woods

took a guy that was strong-arm

and suddenly he's managing a club for him,

that was suspicious.

He went from being a bodyguard to someone who's making

significant wealth.

After the assassination of Horace,

Mike Woods and English Dave

lived like the prince and the king.

PFEIFER: At some point, David Amos

had so much wealth

that he ended up buying a boat for himself and he named it

Wankers Aweigh.

BAKER: There was no one month

or six weeks of mourning.

You know, there wasn't "Let's play it--

Let's low-profile the-the situation."

No, instead they went sky-high.

GULICKSON: We strongly believed

that Mike Woods was behind the murder.

But the fact is that there's a huge leap between

having suspicion of somebody's involvement

and being able to prove

that somebody was involved in something like this.

I'm looking for justice for the victim and answers

for the family.

We needed to convict

the-the folks responsible for this,

and we were at a standstill.

They need a break. And they got one.

PFEIFER: This young man came forward.

He's caught up

in a nasty feud.

CURT ROTHSCHILLER: He said, "How much trouble am I in?"

I never dreamed he would be involved

in something that evil.

There's an old saying,

"Sometimes, if you want something done right,

you just got to do it yourself."

ROTHSCHILLER: So he began working

as a confidential informant for us.

NARRATOR: Detectives had exposed years of friction

between beloved and revered strip club mogul

Horace "Big Mac" McKenna

and his business partner, Mike Woods.

But Woods wasn't looking to make their jobs easier.

Did anything connect him to the crime?

ROB HARLEY: In this case,

they didn't have very much evidence against

Mr. Woods except that there was some problems emanating

between Mr. Woods and Mr. McKenna.

And so this is potentially the motive behind it.

GULICKSON: We wanted to interview Mike Woods.

As a suspect, we felt

that he would intentionally try to avoid us.

Unless he's under arrest,

I don't have the ability to force him to talk to me.

We did not have the-the evidence to arrest him.

There really wasn't much further we could take it with him.

WELBORN: So they had suspects,

particularly Michael Woods, and they're looking at English Dav.

And they were knocking on door,

but they couldn't get that nexus

that put the investigation together.

GULICKSON: By the time 1990 rolled along,

we had pretty much exhausted every lead that we had.

Majority of folks would not talk to us out of fer

of either retaliation.

And we were at a standstill.

At the time things went cold,

Mike Woods was still our primary suspect.

NARRATOR: Just as Big Mac had exploded onto the scene in Orange Count,

he also disappeared with a bang...

leaving both family and investigators

shell-shocked for years,

with no way to bring his suspected killer to justic.

PFEIFER: The Brea Police Department

put in hundreds of hours on the case.

GULICKSON: It's extremely frustrating,

having put in that much time

and that much effort into trying

to bring justice for our victi.

PEAKE: Once it became a cold case,

I was so devastated.

I really didn't think it would ever be solved.

I held out hope all the way

that we would get justice for Mac's parents

and his son,

that were the nicest people.

FINNEY: Mike, you know, he asked me

if I would speak in his father's behalf.


make sure that the media knew the Macs that we know.

PEAKE: I think Big Mac's legacy was stolen from him.

It's hard to duplicate a man like that, you know?

FINNEY: And I made sure I let that be known.

He was a better man

than what some people may think.

It was very upsetting,

as time went on

and nobody's telling the family

where the investigation is going, you know?

But I knew somebody would say something sooner or later.

PFEIFER: After these crimes,

Mike Woods and David Amos produced and acted in a movie

called The Takeover

about an ex-con who...

commits murders to take over a strip club.

It was ridiculous that he would do something like that.

NARRATOR: Mike Woods and English Dave's movie

might have seemed to some to give away the plot,

except it didn't prove anything that could hold up in court.

A decade passed,

and Big Mac's story became legend,

a lover and a fighter

who had straddled two worlds,

between the scandalous strip clubs of South L.A.

and the opulence of Orange County.

But the legend was still lackig a lawful ending.

HARLEY: Every once in a while,

for a case that hadn't been solved for years,

somebody from Newport Beach Police Department

will bring it up to the Orange County

D.A.'s office to do a cold case review.

WELBORN: Orange County got one

of the most experienced detectives in California

about organized crime,

a detective named Rick Morton.

And they need a break.

And they got one.

February of 2000, a man comes forward

and says he knows something

about what happened to Big Mac.

PFEIFER: Johnny Sheridan

was a confidential informant

for a police officer in Ventura County.

And at some point, he decided

to get this case off of his shoulders.

I arrested Johnny Sheridan in 1987

for sales of cocaine.

Johnny decided he would rather try to help himself out

than to go to prison at the time.

So he began working as a confidential informant for u.

John Sheridan was a hanger-on, kind of like

a gofer at different clubs owned by Big Mac.

ROTHSCHILLER: Overall, I would say Johnny's

a really good kid. He's very intelligent,

very quick-witted.

BAKER: He was never in the upper echelon

of Big Mac's characters that he trusted.

He was kind of an outsider working in security

and working at the disposal

of Big Mac and Mike Woods.

But he was closer to Mike Woods than he was to Mac.

He actually became a good friend of, uh, English Dave's.

-Very good friend. -ROTHSCHILLER: I do believe

Johnny was looking for a big brother-type, father figure.

I think that's why he kind of latched on to me.

But I also think that's kind of why he latched on

to English Dave at the clubs.

I believe it was right around February of 2000

when John called and brought up the Big Mac cas.

After Johnny called

and told me that he wanted to talk about Big Mac,

he said he'd meet me at the ba.

And once I brought up the topi,

he told me he was nervous about meeting with me.

He had heard that Orange County

had opened the investigation again.

He said, "How much trouble am I in?"

And I said something like, "Well, Johnny,

"I've kind of gotten you out of a lot of arrests

"and a lot of jail time in the past.

"It kind of depends on your involvement.

But, you know, if you're the shooter--"

and I was kind of joking--

"I don't know what would happen."

And he looked down at the table

and then he looked back up.

And what Johnny said,

it was a shock.

NARRATOR: Ten years after the slaying

of Orange County mogul "Big Mac" McKenna,

a former bit player by the name of John Sheridan

came forward with some startling revelation.

I said, "If you provided the car, not a problem.

"We can work with that. If you provided the gun,

"it's not a death sentence, right?

"But, you know, if you're the shooter,

I don't know what would happen"

And then he looked back down at the table

and he looked straight up at me

and he shook his head up and down

and he had his thumb

and his finger out,

simulating a gun and him pulling the trigger.

At which time, I said,

"Are you kidding me?

"I have no idea

"how we're gonna handle this,

"but I know this guy, Rick Morton,

"and I trust him and he's...

"involved heavily in this investigation.

"I think you should sit down

and talk to him,"

which he agreed to at the time.

The conscience is a tricky thing.

Some people can store the conscience forever

and some people can't.

This guy just completely came clean

and talked about doing this notorious crime himself.

ROTHSCHILLER: English Dave and Mike Woods

wanted Horace McKenna killed,

and Johnny apparently told English Dave

that he knew someone,

and they actually gave Johnny some money.

And then, when Johnny told them who the target was,

they backed out.

Johnny said he kept getting pressured from English Dave

to get it done, and he finally gave in to the pressure,

and decided he would do it himself.

PFEIFER: Actually, his quote was,

"There's an old saying.

"Sometimes if you want something done right,

you just got to do it yourself"

WELBORN: And he gets an advance,

used the money to buy an Uzi submachine gun.

ROTHSCHILLER: While he was explaining it

to us, he was reliving

what happened that night.

WELBORN: March 9, he goes out and sits there

with his submachine gun, and

waits for Big Mac to arrive.

PFEIFER: Sheridan said,

"I went and I found a good hiding place.

"When the limousine stopped at the gate,

"I jumped out of the bushes, and I opened fire,

"and I fired enough bullets that I knew

there's no way that he could have survived."

I remember kind of feeling queasy,

because I never dreamed

he would be involved in something that evil.

As he left the area,

he threw the Uzi into the harbor,

and I know that they never found it.

NARRATOR: Sheridan admitted to pulling the trigger,

but justice in a murder-for-hire plot comes

from bagging whoever ordered the hit,

and with no hard evidence to achieve that,

detectives needed to keep digging.

WELBORN: Can't just use the co-conspirator's word for it.

They've got to get evidence against the guy who hired him.

PEAKE: During the time that the case was a cold case,

Mac came to me in my dreams every night for ten years.

In my dreams, he was always so loving.

NARRATOR: The former motorcycle cop turned strip club kingpin

left a multifaceted legacy.

While some felt safer in his absence,

many missed the wild, romantic giant

and were relieved as justice seemed to be on the horizon.

PEAKE: I am so grateful that they decided

to pick up this case, that they felt

the same way that I did--

that he didn't deserve this, no matter what.

And we want to solve it.

I was happy. Ooh!

The weight was lifted off of my shoulders

of always wondering.

NARRATOR: The case was gaining momentum

after John Sheridan confessed

to killing controversial Orange County icon Big Mac.

Investigators had their sights set on scheming suspects

Mike Woods and his suave henchman English Dave.

ROTHSCHILLER: Johnny felt that he could get English Dave

to talk about the murder.

The Orange County guys put together a plan.

They would cover Johnny while he wore a wire

nights that he worked at the clubs.

Normally, you have a plan where you can rescue them

if things go wrong. In this case,

had they found the wire with Johnny inside the clubs,

I don't think any of us were confident

that we would get there before

they could harm Johnny.

There's always that risk.

A lot of recordings were just normal

strip club business that we could hear.

WELBORN: They were coming close.

I mean, they were getting some bits and pieces on the wire.

But they're not sure they got 100% enough

to prosecute English Dave.

They finally came up with this scheme

from this story about English Dave offering

$50,000, all totaled,

to John Sheridan for the murder of Big Mac McKenna.

And he only got $25,000.

"They promised you $50,000, so maybe if you brought that up

"to English Dave, maybe he'll start talking about it,

and we can get some incriminating evidence."

NARRATOR: Johnny would have to walk a tightrope

by demanding payment for the murder,

but without raising the suspicions

of Mike woods and English Dave.

Would a red flag cause them to silence him

just like they did beloved Big Mac?

English Dave didn't give Johnny a hard time at all. It was,

"Yeah, you know what, Johnny? You're right.

I'll get the money together."

No hesitancy at all.

HARLEY: The investigators were able

to set up Mr. Amos

on audiotape and videotape.

The remaining balance of $25,000 was turned over to Mr. Sheridan

by Mr. Amos as satisfaction of the $25,000 debt

that was owed to Mr. Sheridan

as a result of the murder that took place back in 1989.

-(siren blaring) -WELBORN: They swooped in

and picked up English Dave.

And English Dave suddenly realizes,

"Hey, man, I've been played."

They had enough to prosecute English Dave.

WELBORN: But also they know that he's nt

the end-all of the investigation.

He's not the one that organized

the crime itself.

English Dave works for Mike Woods,

and Mike Woods is the big fish.

PFEIFER: David Amos had two options--

face a life prison sentence, or

do whatever he could to help the police get Mike Woods.

To sit down with Michael Woods

and get him to make an incriminating statement

while wearing a wire.

NARRATOR: An Orange County police sting

had caught English Dave Amos

paying off Big Mac McKenna's shooter,

but Dave was claiming innocenc,

leaving investigators no closer to their real target--

kingpin Mike Woods.

ROTHSCHILLER: We had a conversation

about whether or not we should

explain to English Dave that Johnny,

the informant, was cooperating.

Johnny agreed to talk to Dave

and explain that

he was cooperating, and English Dave should do the sam.

After Johnny talked to English Dave,

Dave's demeanor totally change.

English Dave then turned on Mike Woods, and said, "Yeah.

"I was the agent. I was the one who gave Sheridan the money,

"but it was given to me by my boss, Mike Woods.

"Woods was the one responsible, orchestrated the whole


And it took him maybe five or six minutes

to then say that he would cooperate and try to get

Mike woods to have a conversation

about the conspiracy.

And it was the very next day on October 27

that Dave Amos met with Mike Woods.

ROTHSCHILLER: English Dave arranged

to meet Mike Woods at a deli in the San Fernando Valley.

The Orange County guys actually had

the D.A. that was going to prosecute the case out

on surveillance with them,

listening to the wire that English Dave was wearing.

PFEIFER: During that conversation at the deli,

David Amos looked at Mike Woods and said,

"If I take the fall for you, ae you gonna look after my family"

And Mike Woods said, "Yes, Dave."

That doesn't sound like the words of an innocent man.

So just after that lunch,

when David Amos was secretly recording the conversation,

Mike Woods emerged from the restaurant,

and police swooped in and arrested him.

NARRATOR: Over a decade after Big Mac McKenna was killd

in the quiet hills of Orange County

he had worked so hard to attain,

the trio who did him in were finally brought in

for the gangland lifestyle Big Mac himself had prescribed.

PFEIFER: John Sheridan, David Amos

and Mike Woods had been arrested,

and all three of them were in jail.

FINNEY: When I found out these people had got caught,

well, I went out for a couple drinks that night.

I was happy.

(Finney whoops)

We knew. We knew it.

On August 22, 2001, Mr. Woods

went to trial.

PFEIFER: This case

had everything the prosecution needed--

a secretly-recorded conversatin

in which he makes several highly-incriminating statement.

He had, as they say, the motive,

the means and the opportunity.

This murder took place

because Michael Woods wanted it to happen,

because Horace McKenna, Big Ma, was a threat to him, and

David Amos, knowing that he would get an ownership interest

in the clubs, was more than willing to make this happen.

WELBORN: During the trial, the lawyer for Mike Woods tried

to pin the murder on John Sheridan.

That didn't work.

Michael Woods was convicted

of first degree murder for financial gain,

and he was sentenced by the judge to 25 years to life.

PFEIFER: I can't say that I noticed

any remorse in Mike Woods the whole time I watched the trial.

Because of their cooperation,

David Amos and John Sheridan were eligible

to plead guilty to lesser charges,

and they received reduced sentences.

Both of them were paroled within ten years.

FINNEY: I knew justice would prevail.

And in Mac's case, he-he didn't deserve

to have his life taken, so I knew

there was a brighter light that was gonna shine for him,

and there would be some vindication for his family.

PEAKE: I still read his love letters and his cards,

and I share them with my friends and my family.

I think of him every day.

PFEIFER: After the jury returnd its guilty verdict

against Mike Woods,

I interviewed McKenna's son outside of the courtroom.

He was clearly emotional, teary-eyed, and he told me,

"My dad can now rest, I can now rest.

It's finally over."

ANNOUNCER: For more information on

Real Murders of Orange County, go to

The Description of The King of Orange County