The Unexplained: Greystone Mansion’s Greatest Mystery

The inner courtyard of Greystone Mansion is the keeper of many secrets. Photo: Queen of the Dirt
Limestone gives the mansion a shimmery grey appearance, but the inside is filled with dark shadows.
There it stands, right there in Trousdale Estates of Beverly Hills, a magnificent structure – a Tudor Revival mansion.  It sits on a rise of landscaped loveliness.  Gordon Kaufmann was the architect selected to work his magic in creating the beautiful estate house, in an English garden atmosphere.
Generous use of limestone gives the mansion a shimmery grey appearance.  There are tennis courts, a beautiful pool, and an elegant pavilion on the grounds.  There are dramatic staircases on both the exterior and interior.
Greystone Mansion has served as a backdrop in over seventy-five movies, television productions and music videos, including Dark Shadows and Eraserhead. It can be booked for weddings, social events, and receptions.
In 1928, Irish American oil tycoon, Edward L. Doheny’s gift to his son was completed.  It would be known as Doheny Mansion–or Greystone Mansion.  It was the most expensive home in California, on sixteen acres of land, with fifty-five rooms and 46,000 square feet.
In Fall of 1928,  Ned Doheny and his wife Lucy, plus their five children were able to move into the luxurious estate.  They brought fifteen staff members with them.  Ned’s personal secretary, Hugh Plunkett was frequent visitor to the grounds.  Ned Doheny and Hugh Plunkett had been childhood best friends.
Now we get to the horrific incident, only four months after the family’s move-in.
Sara Marie Hogg

On Saturday, February 16, 1929, Plunkett left his Hollywood apartment and drove onto the Greystone estate.  He had no trouble at the gate because he was welcomed there frequently.  He entered the mansion with his own key and made his way to a bedroom.  He accessed the estate switchboard to summon Ned to the room for a talk.  Could some grievance be stuck in his crop?  A lack of a wage raise, maybe?

To this very day, no one knows exactly what happened – two bodies were discovered later, as a result of the meeting.  It is still a deep, deep mystery.
Ned had ambled down to the room in his after hours attire, a dressing gown.
Ned’s wife, Lucy, heard a gunshot at about eleven p.m.  She had been reading in the library.  In a most bizarre behavior, Lucy did not investigate the noise, nor did she call the authorities to investigate.  Instead, she called the family doctor.  When the doctor got there, Lucy led him to the area of the gunshot.  As they neared the bedroom, they saw Hugh Plunkett emerge with a gun in his hand.  He made eye contact with them, then went back into the room.  That is when they heard a second shot.
Lucy and the doctor got up enough nerve to go into the room.  Plunkett was on the floor, dead, with a gunshot wound in the back.  Ned was dead with a wound to the head. The wound had powder burns from close contact.
Presumably, Ned was the first to die.  How did Hugh get shot later – in the back?
The police were not called for at least two hours.  It was apparent that the bodies had been moved some.
What on earth happened in that room, and why?
Had someone tried to cover up evidence?
It was ruled that Plunkett had shot Doheny. But there was this: Doheny was a Catholic and he was not buried in the Catholic burial ground, as planned.  Could this mean his death was possibly a suicide?  Both men were buried a few feet from each other in another cemetery.  There are so many questions.
To add to the intrigue, the senior Doheny had been a figure in the Teapot Dome affair.  There was a rumor of an $100,000 bribe in the scandal.
The bribe payment had been delivered in a suitcase by none other than Ned Doheny and Hugh Plunkett.  There was going to be an investigation.  All three men were probably going to have to testify and might be charged with crimes.
Was Plunkett worried that he was going to have to take the fall?  Was he depressed that he might be charged with a crime?
The senior Doheny was never called to testify because of sympathy for tragedy at the mansion.
In 1965, Greystone Mansion was purchased from Lucy by the City of Beverly Hills.  In 1976, DohenyEstate/Greystone Mansion was added to the Register of Historic Places.
As for the main Mystery of Greystone, what did happen?£
Please click HERE to find Sara’s mystery novel set in New Orleans, Gris Gris.

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