HOLLYWOOD -- In his dark and cramped one-bedroom apartment off grungy Hollywood Boulevard, Lawrence T. Horn folded his 6-foot-4 frame into an easy chair and politely explained that he did not shoot his ex-wife in the eyes.

Nor, he said, did he suffocate his 8-year-old son and shoot the boy's nurse in the face, as the Montgomery County police suspect he did -- or hired someone else to do -- on March 3 in Silver Spring.

"For me to do that, I would be dead now," said Horn, 53, whose muscular frame sagged beneath a gray sweat suit.

"I would not be living on, because what would be the purpose? I would be a monster."

Three thousand miles from the clutter of the Mediterranean Apartments, which are right around the corner from Walt Disney's star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, detectives in Maryland are working long hours trying to prove their suspicion that Horn is just such a monster.

Montgomery County police suspect that the lure of a multimillion-dollar inheritance prompted Horn to hire someone to kill Mildred Horn, 43, from whom he was divorced in 1987; their son, Trevor, a quadriplegic dependent on a respirator; and nurse Janice Saunders, 38, of Goldvein, Va., according to court documents filed in California.

Police say that Horn's own daughter told them that the freelance record engineer, who once helped record hits for such greats as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Temptations, was obsessed with Trevor's financial worth. Court documents show that Trevor's estate will include up to $2.3 million in proceeds from a 1990 settlement with Children's Hospital, where the boy suffered a 1985 accident that left him severely handicapped. His mother's death leaves his father as the sole heir, police say.

Police obtained a warrant and searched Horn's apartment on March 12, looking for evidence linking Horn to the killings. They took computers, disks, cassettes, records and papers, looking for anything suggesting that Horn had arranged the killings. Horn has said he was at home in Los Angeles with his girlfriend at the time of the killings.

More than seven weeks after the deaths, police haven't been able to charge Horn, or anyone else, with the crime, although they listed an array of circumstantial evidence against Horn in their application for a search warrant.

During a five-hour interview at his home last week, Horn said the police are looking at the wrong man and letting the real killer's trail grow cold as they focus their attention on him.

"The more time that goes by, the more perplexed I am," Horn said. " . . . What really happened? What really happened?"

Horn sat all afternoon in the easy chair, talking about his life. He seemed tired, and he spoke softly. He appears to weigh 250 pounds or more, much of it settling in his belly. He wears a scruffy beard; a two-inch braided rattail hangs down from the back of his baseball cap.

The stuffy apartment is far from the heady days of Detroit in the 1960s, when, Horn said, he drove a Porsche and traveled the country on a big expense account as a Motown Records engineer.

Horn had spent four years in the Navy, where he started a shipboard radio station on an aircraft carrier and his on-air name was "Lawrence T., the Tall Cool One, Your Man With the Plan." When he got home to Detroit in 1962, he signed on as a $50-a-week technician with Motown Records, then a fledgling company run by his mother's friend, Barry Gordy. In the next decade, Horn said, he made big money, hung out with stars and even taught young Stevie Wonder how to sign his name.

These days, Horn does freelance record engineering and runs a small computer consulting firm from a makeshift office in a corner of his living room, next to the kitchenette.

He said his financial fortunes declined after in-house politics forced him out of Motown. He worked first with another production outfit, then on his own, then at Motown again. When Motown was sold in 1988, he stayed on in a job that paid $28,000 a year. In 1990, he said, he was fired -- again, he blames "politics" -- and he has been freelancing since then.

Since March 12, when the police seized most of his equipment, Horn has been basically out of work, he said, surviving on the income of his live-in girlfriend, Shiri Bogan, who works in a bank.

During the interview last week, Horn talked extensively about "Millie."

He said it is hard for him to accept that she is gone, even though their marriage caused both of them two decades of pain.

"I never knew what to expect from Millie," Horn said. "It was like a roller coaster. . . . It was difficult being in a close personal relationship with her. It wasn't normal."

Horn said his former wife was psychologically unstable, volatile and paranoid, leading to frequent arguments and constant tension. He said she frequently threatened divorce, then the two would make up. At least three times, he said, they actually repeated their wedding vows in ceremonies before a minister.

Mildred Horn's family declined written and telephone requests to be interviewed for this article. Friends and co-workers have described an entirely different Mildred Horn: one who was patient, kind, solid and dedicated to raising her severely handicapped child.

At a memorial service for Mildred and Trevor, a co-worker described Mildred as "elegant, caring and loving." Carolyn Green-Hayes said Mildred always made time to listen to her friends' problems, even though her own life with Trevor was so demanding.

Horn said he met Mildred Maree on an airplane in 1972, when he was 32. She was 22 and working as a flight attendant for American Airlines, a job she held until her death.

Horn said they at first lived a fantasy life, a carefree party, traveling and spending their free time at her home in California or his in Detroit. Then, in August 1973, they were married in Las Vegas. He said it was a whim that later turned to love.

"It was like a lark," Horn said. "It wasn't a love thing, it was more of an arrangement. . . . It was a distraction; it was fun. Then one thing led to another, and Tiffani was born."

Even before their daughter was born in 1974, Horn said, he and Millie had begun fighting over "the least little thing." And their marriage remained full of happy highs and bitter lows, he said.

During one of their reconciliations, in 1984, Mildred became pregnant with Trevor and his twin sister, Tamielle. When the twins were born 12 weeks prematurely on Aug. 8, 1984, Horn said, Mildred blamed stress caused by him and their marriage for the early births.

Trevor suffered massive brain damage during an accident at Children's Hospital in Washington in September 1985.

"That situation broke the back," Horn said. "The relationship never recovered from that. . . . She found a way that it was really my fault. She said I was a curse on her life."

The Horns were divorced in March 1987, and they were awarded joint custody of the children, who continued living with Mildred Horn in Maryland. The court ordered Horn to pay $650 a month in child support, $300 for Trevor and $175 each for the two girls.

In 1988, the Horns filed a federal court lawsuit against Children's Hospital over Trevor's injuries. The money they received in the 1990 settlement of that case is now the central issue as police investigate Horn. Although the settlement was sealed by the court, many of its terms were unsealed last week at the request of The Washington Post.

The documents indicate that Trevor's estate could be worth more than $2.3 million. However, it is impossible from the court documents alone to determine the estate's precise value. Police have said Horn stands to inherit $1.7 million.

Horn said he does not have a copy of the settlement agreement, which bears his signature. Horn said he does not believe he will inherit any money because Trevor's medical insurance had been exhausted and his medical bills had virtually drained the settlement.

However, the court documents show that Trevor was covered by insurance through his mother's employer at the time of his death. Six weeks before her death, however, Mildred Horn filed court papers saying that Trevor's insurance was about to run out.

Horn's relatives said he is too gentle and kind to have been involved in the killings. His mother, Pauline Horn, 73, a woman who still bears the elegant poise of her days as a jazz dancer in Detroit, talked for hours about her son last week.

She sat in the sunny back yard of her San Fernando Valley home, where she lives with Horn's only sibling, 49-year-old Elaine Tyler. It is the house, she said, where police took Horn into custody on the night of the killings.

Horn rarely cries, she said, but before police came that night, he put his head on her shoulder and sobbed. "He ran into my arms like a little boy," she said. "He broke down. . . . He was saying, 'Trevor's gone, Trevor's gone.' "

Horn's first wife, who has not spoken to Horn in years but remains on friendly terms with him, was incredulous about police suspicions regarding Horn.

"I can't even begin to fathom that," said Juana Royster, a Motown receptionist who was married to Horn for a little more than a year in the 1960s and who is now an administrator at Washington State University. "That does not register. That sounds like a whole different human being. . . . In my wildest dreams, I simply cannot see him that way."

But Montgomery County police say that the evidence against him is substantial -- although not enough, apparently, to charge him.

On the night of the killings, police in Los Angeles questioned Horn for several hours. In his pocket, they said, they found a piece of paper with an airline flight number and flight times. Those numbers matched the flight Mildred Horn was scheduled to work on the day she was killed.

When first asked about the paper several weeks ago, Horn offered no explanation. Last week, he said he believed the paper was probably simply a listing of Mildred Horn's vital information that he had carried for years in his wallet.

Joy Simmons, Mildred Horn's boss at American Airlines, said Horn had worked on that same flight to Puerto Rico for several years. But, she said, flight times usually change every two or three months. So anyone having the correct flight times probably obtained them recently, she said.

Police told a California court that several other factors point to Lawrence Horn. Last summer, he videotaped the route from downtown Washington to Mildred's house; Horn said he was just filming his trip to show his family in California. Police also noted that Horn had called Mildred's house on the night before the killings; Horn said he was just calling to say hello to Tamielle.

Asked to comment more extensively for this article, police declined, saying they believed Horn had already received too much publicity. Montgomery County police also noted that though Horn spoke at length to a reporter, he has refused since the day of the killings to talk to them.

After several hours of interviewing in his home, Horn agreed to go for a walk, down to the corner of Hollywood Boulevard, along the Walk of Fame, past Mann's Chinese Theatre and into a hamburger restaurant he said is frequented by Hollywood stars, some of whom are his friends.

He sat at a table and said he has no idea who killed Mildred, Trevor and Janice Saunders. He said he cannot believe someone would intentionally kill a helpless boy; he suggested that perhaps the autopsy results were wrong and that it was some kind of accident.

At one point, he suggested that maybe his former wife arranged the killings herself. She was so unpredictable, he said, and this all makes so little sense, that maybe she just snapped. Horn quickly reversed himself and said he doesn't really believe that. But with Millie, he said, anything was possible.

He said they had so many ups and downs, so many separations and reunions, that even reports of her death strike him as somehow not final, not the end. "She's always been an element of my life," he said. "I don't accept the fact that she's gone."

Horn also said he knows that murder has no statute of limitations and that his life won't be sorted out until the case is solved.

"I don't see my life ever being normal again," he said. "I could be 60 years old and get a knock on the door {from police}, right?"