Murder in Sin City: Death of a Casino Boss

Murder in Sin City: Death of a Casino Boss

by Jeff German

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061749933
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/17/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 123,069
File size: 541 KB

About the Author

Jeff German has been an award-winning writer for the Las Vegas Sun for more than two decades. As a columnist and the newspaper's senior investigative reporter, he has chronicled the activities of the mob and covered Las Vegas from its streets to casino boardrooms. His early reports on Ted Binion's death led police to conclude that the casino boss was the victim of a homicide. German later obtained hundreds of pages of confidential law enforcement documents and broke a steady stream of stories that took his readers into the heart of the police investigation. He is regarded as one of the nation's foremost experts on this sensational case.

Check out the original Lifetime movie, Sex and Lies in Sin City, based on the book Murder in Sin City by Jeff German, premiering on October 25, 2008 at 8 p.m. EST.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Death Scene

Steven Reincke, a veteran fire department paramedic, and his crew were the first to arrive at Ted Binion's posh ranch-style home in Las Vegas about 3:57 p.m. on September 17, 1998.

As they hurried past the opened steel security gates, they ran into Sandy Murphy, the wealthy gambling figure's beautiful twenty-six-year-old girlfriend, sobbing on the steps of the front door. Minutes earlier, the frantic former topless dancer had telephoned police to report that her "husband" had stopped breathing.

Hysterical and screaming, Murphy led the paramedics inside. They rushed along the white marble floors of the spacious sunken living room and passed the dining room on the right to Binion's den, his favorite place in the 8,000-square-foot home, where they found his lifeless body on a blue sleeping mat in the middle of the moth-colored carpeted floor. Clad only in a half-buttoned long-sleeve shirt and Calvin Klein briefs, the fifty-five-year-old Binion's arms were at his sides and his legs were straight and covered with a quilt. He was lying alongside his favorite piece of furniture, a plum-colored sofa that was worn out and spattered with cigarette burns on its left side, where Binion had often smoked and watched television on his thirty-two-inch console across the modest-sized room. Next to his body were a pair of black jeans, some loafers, three disposable lighters, an opened package of Vantage cigarettes, a television remote control and, most intriguing of all, an empty bottle of the prescription sedative Xanax that the former casino executive had obtained a day earlier. Binion, the second son of thelate gaming pioneer Benny Binion, who founded the downtown Horseshoe Club, one of the most popular gambling joints in Las Vegas, was known to take Xanax to ease himself off heroin, a drug he had been addicted to for years.

It didn't take long for Reincke to discover that Binion had been dead for some time. His face looked ashen and there were signs of rigor mortis in his jaw. As Reincke examined the body, Murphy, an athletically built bottle blonde, returned to the den in an excited state.

"She came running into the room and just about fell on the body," Reincke later testified.

As his partners escorted Murphy out of the den, a twenty-foot-by-thirty-foot room with a low ten-foot-high ceiling, Reincke determined that Binion had no pulse and wasn't breathing. His pupils were dilated. Turning Binion over onto his right side, the paramedic saw large purple bruises on his back, which meant his blood had not been circulating for some time. No attempts were made to revive Binion.

Once it was clear that the casino boss was dead, police and crime-scene analysts were called to the home. Michael Perkins, a seasoned crime lab supervisor, took charge of surveying the death scene. Upon entering the house, Perkins found it odd to see a Halloween decoration, a white skeleton with "R.I P.” in large black letters, hanging over a light fixture above the doorway. Halloween, he thought, was six weeks away.

By now, word about Binion's death had spread throughout his upscale neighborhood. Reporters, friends, family members and neighbors began congregating outside his 2408 Palomino Lane home as a steady stream of plainclothes and uniformed officers made their way inside what quickly became a chaotic scene. The phone was ringing constantly in the den while Reincke attended to Binion's body. Messages from well-wishers were pouring into a recorder.

Perkins and his crime analysts scoured the den, taking photographs and looking for more clues to Binion's death. The room was filled with mementos from Binion's colorful life. On one glass end table on which Binion usually sat was a large glass ashtray, a pair of reading glasses and a photo of Binion as a teenager at his father's ranch in Montana, standing next to a bobcat that had been hunted down. There also was an empty envelope from Peter Ribaste, a reputed Kansas City mob associate who had been sending Binion monthly checks to repay a $100,000 loan. There was the book Players: The Men Who Made Las Vegas, written by local author Jack Sheehan. It contained a chapter on Benny Binion. Also on the end table was an invitation to the Las Vegas premiere of the documentary Mob Law, the life story of criminal defense attorney Oscar Goodman before he was elected mayor of Las Vegas in June 1999.

Across the wallpapered room were Civil War, fishing and gun books, as well as various Western knickknacks, scattered on large white bookshelves and cabinets that took up the entire wall. In the middle was his television console. And on one end near the entrance to the den was a thirteen-inch split-screen surveillance monitor attached to video cameras outside his home. On a padded bench on the other side of the room, next to a door that led to one of Binion's garages, was a Victoria's Secret magazine addressed to Murphy. There also was a note from Murphy written on a large white envelope. It read: "Teddy, I went to the gym. I couldn't sleep this morning. Love you, Sandy."

In the bathroom inside the den, crime-scene experts found heroin paraphernalia and a large knife with a small amount of black tar heroin on it. The items were on top of a gold-colored plastic stand next to the toilet. That discovery, along with the empty bottle of pills and the fact that there were no signs of violence inside the house, was enough to persuade police to go on the evening news and suggest that Binion had died of a drug overdose. It was no secret, after all, that Binion had returned to using heroin in March after Nevada gaming regulators kicked him out of the casino industry because of his ties to underworld figures.

Like his legendary father, Binion was a man of many vices and temptations. He became hooked on heroin in 1980 and later wound up arrested for possessing the street drug in 1987. His arrest led to the suspension of his gaming license as part owner and casino manager of his family's storied Horseshoe Club.

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