A drug-addicted millionaire casino scion, Ted Binion, with a secret stash of silver, his young stripper girlfriend with her secret lover, the debt-riddled cowboy with a taste for murder: A cast like this can only add up to murder. This is more tasty than Murder on the Oriental Express and just as sensationalised.
This truth-stranger-than-fiction True Hollywood Story, part of our CSE! Week, unravels one of the weirdest tales to emerge from Las Vegas, a city legendary for its excesses.
With forty-five minutes of easily downloadable, mind-boggling video, it just goes to show that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Until it's murder. Then, it's the shot seen 'round the world. Juicy? Most definitely. This story unravels human weakness more expertly than an eight course meal at a five star Vegas steak house. Just as tasty and entirely titillating to gourmands of true life murder, extortion, and kidnapping.
As an appetiser, just a few details about Ted Binion, heir to the Binion's Horseshoe Casino, who lived his 55 years fast and hard, His love of heroin helped him lose his stake in his family's casino, and his decision to find comfort in the arms of a destitute stripper ultimately proved fatal.
Card dealers always knew when Ted Binion was in his Horseshoe Casino--by the smell of marijuana that trailed him.
Binion was a math whiz, at least at gambling. He could figure the dealer's take on any game in seconds.
As a child, a kidnap attempt against Ted was thwarted.
While fighting to get his gaming license back, Binion once showed up for a drug test with his head and body completely shaved so testers could not analyze his hair.
Binion met his lover turned thief, Sandy Murphy, when she worked as a stripper at Cheetah's, one of his favorite clubs.
Murphy's career as a stripper lasted less than a month. After losing her life's savings--$13,000--playing blackjack, she started dancing for money. After a few days, she met Binion, who moved her into his luxurious home two weeks later.
Shortly after Binion met Murphy, his wife and 15-year-old daughter left him. Murphy moved into his 8,000-square-foot home.
Binion met his lover's lover, Rick Tabish, after the two men struck up a conversation while at adjoining urinals.
Tabish had previously been convicted of aggravated assault stemming from a road-rage incident in his native Montana. He also served nine months on drug charges.
Tabish helped Binion build an underground vault, where he moved and buried 46,000 pounds of silver, worth about $7 million, in the form of raw bars and circulated and uncirculated coins. He stored them in boxes, bags and ammunition cans.
It wasn't a leap to conclude that both Tabish and Murphy had something to do with the wayward billionaire's death.
Binion's will said that in the event of his death, Murphy would receive $300,000, as well as the house and all its contents.
The day before he died, Binion phoned his attorney to remove Murphy from his will. Binion reportedly said: "Take Sandy out of the will...if she doesn't kill me tonight. If I'm dead, you'll know what happened."
Binion's body had been found in a clean, peaceful, mortuary-like position. People who die from drug overdoses typically have violent seizures and experience vomiting.
An autopsy initially left the cause of Binion's death "undetermined" because of the many unanswered questions surrounding the case.
The autopsy showed that blood had pooled in Binion's face, which led to the determination that his body had been moved from a face-down position to the reclining position in which he was found.
One day after Binion died, girlfriend Sandy Murphy created a video inventory of the home she shared with Binion, ostensibly to see what people might be stealing from her.
That same day, she also phoned two of Binion's attorneys, making sure that she would get the house and asking how to file a $1 million insurance claim.
Two days after the death, officers arrested three men, including Rick Tabish, after they were found digging up Binion's stash of silver from his secret vault in the Las Vegas desert.
Toxicology tests found heroin in Binion's stomach contents, leading investigators to believe that he had been served the drug--which he typically smoked--in a drink.
Binion family members offered a $25,000 reward for information about the death. The reward eventually grew to $100,000, which coaxed many witnesses to come forward.
Coroner's officials later changed the cause of death to "homicide," after finding a trail of drops of gastric juices leading in a straight line from the den to where the body was found. Investigators concluded he had vomited while wrapped in a sheet, before his body was moved to the new location and cleaned.
After eight days of deliberations, the jury found the two suspects guilty of murder, robbery, grand larceny, burglary and two counts of conspiracy.
E! follows the trail of frantic phone calls and romantic meetings between the two prime suspects, the same path detectives followed before charging the pair with murdering Binion for his millions. This is a story of betrayal--with clues lying in closed curtains, open windows and empty bank accounts.
Unholy triangles of love, sex, greed, and death gets more twisted as THS explores how someone was driven to commit homicide. Clearly stumped and thwarted from what was considered a slam-dunk, the detectives held true to the homily that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Only this time, the body isn't buried in the sand, but the killers certainly are playing fast and loose. Somewhere. Who knows where?
Ultimately, the two whose motives seemed most apparent, Murphy, 32, and Tabish, 39, were cleared of murder, robbery, and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery, but found guilty of three other counts — conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary and grand larceny — for their 1998 plot to steal Binion's millions in silver and cash. Tabish, on the other hand, has been denied parole for his part in this nefarious kidnapping-extortion scheme.
Stay tuned, for the next trial won't be until 2008 and you can be assured THS will cover or, shall we say, uncover the gory details. True crime followers will be sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for THIS trial. In the meantime, who did kill Ted Binion? Is anyone looking? Does anyone really care? There's always a story in Vegas and another one will certainly come along. They do things in a big style in Viva! Las Vegas!