Posts Tagged ‘true crime’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 29, 2017

Former Chicago Outfit Mobster Implicates Tony Spilotro in Numerous Unsolved Murders

DENVER, May 28, 2017:

“…There are probably more killings I don’t know about,” wrote former Chicago Outfit hitman Frank Cullotta in his new book The Rise and Fall of a ‘Casino’ Mobster. The killer he referenced was Tony Spilotro, one of the Outfit’s most notorious enforcers.

Cullotta’s book implicates Spilotro in over twenty murders—most of them still thought of as usnolved. But in Cullotta’s mind, Spilotro was the clear culprit.

One of the murders Cullotta attributed to Spilotro is former Chicago police officer Richard Cain. In his book, Cullotta wrote:

Some called him [Cain] the most corrupt cop in Chicago history because he was also a hit man for the Outfit… In late December 1973, while I was locked up in the federal prison in Terre Haute, the story broke that Cain was murdered in Chicago on December 20 in Rosie’s Sandwich Shop at 1117 West Grand Avenue. Reports were that three masked gunmen entered Rosie’s and shot him twice in the head with a shotgun at close range, virtually decapitating him.

During one of the many conversations I had with Tony after I got out of prison in 1974, Cain’s murder came up. Tony said, “You were in jail with him weren’t you?”

“Yeah, we were in Cook County together for a while. Why?”

“What did that jackoff have to say?”

“Not much, Tony. He was a real quiet guy, but I knew he was tight with Giancana [Outfit Boss] and Willie Potatoes [Outfit big shot William Daddano]. I had a connection with the deputy warden and got him to give Cain extra visits with his wife, and we teased him about the bathrobe he always wore. Other than that, I don’t remember much about him.”

Tony laughed. “Me, the Little Guy, and the German [Frankie Schweihs] whacked him.”

I was surprised he said it like that, kind of a boast. It made sense, though. As I said, Tony came to my mind as one of the hitters as soon as I heard about the murder. I assumed the “Little Guy” Tony mentioned was Saint. He and Tony did a lot of things together, and Saint was the only guy Tony worked with who was shorter than he was.

Was Tony just blowing smoke that day for some reason?

My money is on he was telling the truth.

“Oftentimes mob hits go unsolved because no one’s willing to talk,” said WildBlue Press co-owner and New York Times bestselling author Steve Jackson. “But Cullotta is done covering for Spilotro, for Giancana, for all those guys. The book truly exposes one of Chicago’s most dangerous eras.”

The Rise and Fall of a ‘Casino’ Mobster is now available from WildBlue Press. Promotions for the book will take place in Chicago this summer. To arrange an interview with the author, please contact WildBlue Press at Promos@WildBluePress.com.

Frank Cullotta is a former enforcer for the Chicago Outfit. He is now an author and has been involved in making documentaries. In 2012, he was inducted into the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.

Dennis N. Griffin is an award winning true crime author, focusing on organized crime in Las Vegas and the Tony Spilotro era in particular. His books have been the basis for multiple organized crime documentaries, and he has frequently been a featured speaker at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library’s Mob Month.

Contact:

Michael Cordova

promos@wildbluepress.com

(303) 744-2178

Note: Review copies of this book are available by emailing promos@wildbluepress.com. Interviews can also be arranged with the authors. Please include your mailing address and note the web address where you post your reviews/interviews. Thank you.

 

 

 

Meeting Frank Cullotta

May 25, 2017

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Jim Cooley describes meeting Frank Cullotta
Meeting Frank
I sat with my head on a pivot and my heart in my chest. It was early for me as I was up late the night before announcing an MMA event in this amazingly over-the-top town, Las Vegas. I was not sure what to expect or how to act. What do I say to him? What will he ask me? My friends had made the usual sarcastic comments upon hearing of who I was meeting. Things like, “Don’t go to his car with him,” and “Don’t make him angry.” I laughed and smiled, but it did get me thinking. Of course they were only joking and he was not going to kill me. Yet, I still had no idea what to expect.
My line of work brings me into contact with some very famous people. I have enjoyed a casual cocktail with people like Mike Tyson and interviewed A-list celebrities including actors, athletes and musicians on numerous occasions. Having traveled all over the United States while announcing in front of huge raucous crowds, I have come into contact with people from every walk of life. It has given me a unique perspective on people and left me almost numb when in the face of fame and celebrity, as a result I rarely get nervous or flustered in any situation. I consider myself cool and collected and a bit of a chameleon. I can attend an event with outlaw bikers at their clubhouse in the afternoon and in the evening go to a black tie affair with someone like Evander Holyfield. From a t-shirt and jeans to a suit and tie, I am thoroughly comfortable around any person from any culture.
I found out very quickly though, that nothing had prepared me for this day. This was not breakfast with a celebrated athlete or a first meeting with a well-known actor. This was a meal with an admitted killer. A sit down, so to speak, with a real-life Mafioso.
I was sitting in a half circle booth waiting for the gangster who once ran Vegas. The man who stood up and did not back down from the very Mob he was part of when his life was on the line. The restaurant was a who’s who of Vegas stereotypes. There were the locals who looked like they could have eaten in this place every day, the ones who smoke cigarette after cigarette and sit in front of a video poker machine with dreams of wealth. There were tourists who were taking in the scenery of this storied restaurant while having their photos taken by the staff. There were the twenty something weekend warriors who had clearly had a bit too much to drink the night before and were hoping to find solace and headache relief in mimosas and scrambled eggs. Perhaps they had received their hangover from the bar in this very building. The one that was recognizable to anyone who has seen the movie Casino. This was the Peppermill in Las Vegas and I was here to meet him.
To say I was nervous would be a serious understatement. Truth be told, I was more nervous than I can ever recall being at any time when meeting another human being. However, that is exactly what I had to remind myself of, this is a human being, a man just like me. His past is just that, his past. The difference was this was a man I had studied; a man I had wanted to meet for some time. This was a man whose books had intrigued me and left me wanting more of the story. As I pondered all of this in my head I happened to look up and I saw a figure making his way toward the booth. He was graying but somehow still seemed young and spry. A shorter than average man who obviously had lived his life to the fullest, yet he was still stout and solid. At 78 years old you would assume he was past his prime, but upon seeing him I was not sure that was true. On any other day I would say this was merely an older gentleman who happened to be a snappy dresser. However, this gentleman was different. Once known for being a feared fighter, a stone killer and a master thief who had connections to the storied Chicago Outfit. Best friend and cohort of famed Mob enforcer Tony “The Ant” Spilotro. I had seen this man’s life play out on the silver screen. I had read of his experiences in books and been amazed at the life he had lived. This however, was no book, nor movie, this was real life.
As he approached the table I stood up to greet him. Keep in mind I am six foot two inches tall and weigh 240 pounds. As an ex bouncer and mixed martial artist I do not rattle easily. But at this moment none of that mattered. I was scared. I was intimidated. This man was probably 7 or 8 inches shorter than me and 32 years my senior. Yet I was close to puking from nerves. Just as I felt I was going to stumble over my words and come off like a blundering idiot fan boy, Frank Cullotta reached out his hand and said “You must be Jim.” His smile and demeanor were very disarming. All of the sudden I was comfortable. I was relaxed as we sat for our meal. I had been worried over nothing. This was not the 70s or the 80s, this was 2016 and Frank Cullotta was a different person. A Las Vegas Mob Tour guide and an author with a family and a contagious smile.
Over the next couple of hours, we shared stories and he told me things I never knew about the Chicago Outfit, his life and the mafia in general. I was enthralled. Not only was I sharing a meal with the former “Boss of Vegas,” but very quickly I realized something. This man was an encyclopedia of organized crime. In addition to living it and being there he also had clearly studied and in the process become one of the most knowledgeable people I had ever come across on his chosen subject. I have heard the so called “Experts” speak and have learned what I could from them. But it is apples and oranges between these guys and Frank.
My belief has always been that reading a book written by an expert on a subject is the quickest way to gain facts. However, reading a book written by someone who lived the material is life- changing and the quickest way to feel the history. In this case, when you read a Frank Cullotta book you have the unusual advantage of being treated to both. A man who lived it and is also an expert on the topic. This is the reason I maintain that reading a Frank Cullotta book is a must for any mafia fan (for lack of a better term), true crime buff or those just intrigued by biographies and history. This man doesn’t just write about history he is a living piece of history and is an expert at sharing it in the most creative and engaging ways. I left that day feeling like I had been one of the luckiest people alive. I had the opportunity to break bread with and learn about one of the most interesting figures alive today.
In the past year I have become friends with Frank and I consider him to be one of the most genuine and honest men I have ever met. He has given me life advice, shared with me things he has not to my knowledge even written in his various books. Hell, the guy even flirted with my mother right in front of me! It was tongue in cheek and I took it as such, but that is Frank You never know what you will get. He is all at once funny, intriguing and real. So if this is not your first Cullotta authored book then you know what to expect, unbelievable stories, amazing insight into the world of organized crime and the history of both Chicago and Las Vegas all rolled into one. Comedy mixed in with heart pounding drama and a historical account of when organized crime ruled the United States.
In his new book, The Rise And Fall Of A ‘Casino’ Mobster, Frank tells his the inside story of Tony Spilotro and the days when they ran Las Vegas. In the process he names the killers in many murders that are currently listed as unsolved. So get the book and sit back and enjoy as you delve into the mind of a gentleman, a family man, a thief, a killer, and a man who today has nothing to hide.
Jim Cooley “The Voice Of Champions”
VOC NETWORK
(925) 389-0138
www,lastroundpod.com

 

The Rise And Fall Of A ‘Casino’ Mobster

April 28, 2017

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My latest book, The Rise And Fall Of A ‘Casino’ Mobster, has been released. Following is the background leading up to writing the book.

I first spoke with Frank Cullotta by phone in 2005 while doing research for my book The Battle for Las Vegas. The following year we met in person in Las Vegas and agreed to co-author Frank’s biography, CULLOTTA. Although Tony Spilotro, Frank’s one-time friend and criminal associate, was frequently mentioned in that book, it was Frank’s story. In 2013 Frank and I conspired on another book, Hole In The Wall Gang, which also included Tony but was again, Frank’s story.

In 2015 Frank asked me if I’d be interested in doing another book with him. He explained that he was getting up in age and wanted to set the record straight about Tony Spilotro—to correct the misinformation about Tony that is out there and provide his personal insights about the man, his rise in the Chicago crime family called the Outfit, his fall from grace and ultimate murder by his former associates.

Thinking I already knew pretty much all there was to know about Tony; I interrupted Frank and expressed my concerns.

He said this book would be different, though, in that the focus would be on Tony and not him. It would include his personal knowledge and beliefs about murders that Tony committed, ordered, planned or was a suspect in. Much of that information would be disclosed for the first time—even to me—and several of the murders he’d discuss are still officially unsolved.

I was intrigued, but pointed out that several killings had been covered in CULLOTTA and Hole In The Wall Gang and I didn’t want to just do a rehash of what we’d already written. Frank said that although it would be necessary to talk about some of those killings again because they are part of Tony’s history, he assured me that anyone who read the book (including law enforcement) would learn a lot.

In addition to clarifying Tony’s role in various killings, Frank said he wanted to discuss the details of Tony’s own murder which were revealed in the Family Secrets trial in 2007. During that trial one of the killers took the stand and explained exactly how Tony and his brother Michael were murdered. Frank also said he planned to provide the inside story of Tony’s racketeering mistrial in 1986. Finally, the book would contain Frank’s opinion on how Tony’s poor decisions and ill-advised actions contributed to the Chicago Outfit losing control of Sin City. I told Frank I was in.

During the writing process I learned the rest of the story about Tony Spilotro’s rise from a Mob wannabe to a feared enforcer and boss. I also gained a better understanding of how his weakness for women and his quest for money and power eventually contributed to the Mob’s ouster from Las Vegas, and in the end cost him his life.

I’m glad I didn’t turn this project down.

Meet Burl Barer and Ken Eurell, co-authors of Betrayal In Blue.

February 21, 2017

Crime Wire on February 22.
BETRAYAL IN BLUE: The Shocking Memoir of the Scandal That Rocked The NYPD is the story of Mike Dowd and Ken Eurell, two cops who ran the most powerful gang in New York’s dangerous 75th Precinct, the crack cocaine capitol of 1980s America. These “Cocaine Cops” formed a lucrative alliance with Adam Diaz, the kingpin of an ever-expanding Dominican drug cartel. Soon Mike and Ken were buying fancy cars no cop could afford, and treating their wives to levels of luxury not associated with a patrol officer’s salary.

They were daring, dangerous and untouchable. Then “the biggest police scandal in New York history” exploded into the headlines with the arrest of Mike, Ken, and their fellow crooked cops. Released on bail, Mike offered Ken a long shot at escape to Central America—a bizarre plan involving robbery, kidnapping, and murder—forcing Ken to choose between two forms of betrayal.

Adapted from Ken Eurell’s shocking personal memoir, plus hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with the major players, including former international drug lord, Adam Diaz, BETRAYAL IN BLUE reveals the truth behind what you didn’t see in the hit documentary THE SEVEN FIVE.

9:00 p.m. Eastern at

 

BETRAYAL IN BLUE: The Shocking Memoir of the Scandal That Rocked The NYPD is the story of Mike Dowd and Ken Eurell, two cops who ran the most powerful gang in New York’s dangerous 75th Precinct, the crack cocaine capitol of 1980s America.

Teflon Tony

February 19, 2017

In 1979, the two major agencies investigating Tony Spilotro—the FBI and Las Vegas Metro— resumed cooperating with each other. They both made bringing Spilotro down one of their top priorities. But by that time Tony had already been in Vegas and building his organization for almost eight years and was well entrenched as Sin City’s most powerful mobster. His gang was comprised of top notch professional criminals, and his ferocious reputation discouraged witnesses from coming forward.

In fact, a 1974 study by the Los Angeles Times found that in the three years Tony had been in Vegas, more gangland-style murders had been committed there than in the previous 25 years combined. A casino executive and his wife were gunned down in front of their home, another casino executive was murdered in a parking lot, a prominent lawyer was blown up in his Cadillac, a loan shark victim went missing, and another casino boss was beaten and crippled for life. It didn’t matter whether or not Spilotro was responsible for the violence. People, including the cops, believed he was, and his reputation for viciousness grew.

“Everybody on the Strip is scared to death of the little bastard. He struts in and out of the joints like Little Caesar,” the Los Angeles Times quoted one casino owner as saying at the time. The same piece also quotes a store owner who first met Spilotro when Tony stopped in to buy clothes for his son. “When he came in the store the first time, you almost wanted to pat him on the head, until you looked into his eyes.” Tony’s eyes, described as pale blue and reptilian, looked through people, and not at them. Many who dealt with Tony, including law-enforcement personnel, agreed you could find death in those eyes.

Among the homicides Tony was suspected of being involved in between 1971 and 1975, was the June 23, 1973 murder of William “Red” Klim. A Caesars Palace employee, Klim was shot and killed gangland style in the parking lot of the Churchill Downs Race Book. There were multiple theories regarding scenarios as to the motive for Klim’s murder. One held that the deceased was cooperating with authorities in an investigation of illegal bookmaking that targeted Lefty Rosenthal. Another suggested that the dead man had information pertaining to Spilotro’s implication in a fraud against the Teamsters Pension Fund. Yet another designated Klim as a loanshark who refused to pay the Ant a tribute. All three theories involved Tony either directly or as Rosenthal’s protector.

Although Spilotro was charged with Klim’s murder the following year, the case against him fell apart when witnesses were unable or unwilling to positively identify the killer.

And then there was Marty Buccieri, a pit boss at Caesars Palace and a distant relative of Chicago underboss Fiori “Fifi” Buccieri. He reportedly had connections to most of the Vegas crime figures worth knowing and had used those connections to facilitate the granting of a number of Teamster Pension Fund loans to Allen Glick, CEO of Argent (Allen R. Glick Enterprises), the Outfit-installed owner of the Stardust, Hacienda, Fremont and Marina casinos. In the summer of 1975, law-enforcement sources learned that Buccieri had approached Glick and demanded a $30,000 finder’s fee for his help in obtaining the loans. At one point he’s said to have physically threatened Glick. The Argent boss then informed Lefty Rosenthal—the behind-the-scenes power of the operation—of the incident.

A few days later Buccieri was found shot to death. The law immediately suspected that Tony Spilotro was involved.

Another killing—one that was depicted in the movie Casino—was the November 9, 1975 murder of Tamara Rand, an erstwhile friend and business partner of Allen Glick. She invested heavily in his Vegas casinos and, in spite of having no gaming experience, had signed a contract as a consultant at the Hacienda for $100,000 per year. Rand believed that through investments she had purchased five percent of Glick’s casinos, so when Glick denied such a deal, she filed suit against him for breach of contract and fraud. A court trial could have blown the lid off the mob’s hidden interests in the Las Vegas casinos. Consequently, just days after a bitter argument between her and Glick, Tamara Rand was murdered at her home in San Diego.

Although Tony was a prime suspect in the Rand killing, there was insufficient evidence to charge him with the murder.

As the years passed Tony’s status grew until he was the undisputed king of the Vegas underworld. He knew everything that went on within the Las Vegas criminal element. No one did anything—from contract killings to burglaries, robberies, fencing stolen property, or loan sharking — without his approval and without paying him a monetary tribute where appropriate.

Even before the FBI and Metro launched their cooperative effort, Spilotro had been a target of the agencies at various times. But he had proved to be a worthy adversary. In spite of being almost continuously under investigation, and a suspect in some 25 murders and countless other felonies, Tony conducted his affairs for more than a decade without being convicted of even a minor offense. No matter what the law threw at him, nothing stuck.

Part of the reason for that impressive run could have been his skills and reputation as a criminal. Another likely factor was the legal work done for him by his lawyer, Oscar Goodman. Together, Tony and Oscar, each using his own unique talents, made a team that prosecutors seemed unable to beat.

But as the old saying goes, nothing lasts forever.

 

Crime Wire Consultants Update

February 11, 2017
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Crime Wire Consultants

Pat Caristo

Pat is the Executive Director of the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death (http://bridgesforvictimsofviolentdeath.org). She has been a licensed, working private investigator since 1985, specializing in the area of unsolved homicide investigations. Her many years of investigative experience include the Philadelphia Police Department (which commended her for heroism), the UNM Police Department and the NM Organized Crime Prevention Commission. Pat is trained and experienced as an intelligence analyst and crime-prevention specialist. She has taught sex crimes investigation/crime prevention classes at the NM Law Enforcement Academy and the UNM Law and Medical Schools. She currently teaches investigative-related classes for the UNM Continuing Education Department.

William “BILL” Sullivan

Bill was born and raised in Marengo, Illinois. He attended Southern Illinois University and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 1969. He was elected Coroner in Dekalb County in 1975.

In 1979 he was chosen as the only Coroner in the U. S. to assist nine other experts in compiling a manual for the correct way to investigate deaths —a project of the US Justice Dept.

In 1984 Bill became the Director of Operations for the Onondaga County (New York) Medical Examiner’s Office, a position that made him the office administrator and chief investigator.

In 1988, he formed Forensic Consulting Specialties (FCS) and became licensed by the State of New York as a Private Investigator. FCS (www.f-c-s.com.www.f-c-s.com.http://www.f-c-s.com) performs specialty investigations such as murder and suspicious death cases, autopsy and second autopsies, as well as regular civil and criminal investigations.

Peter Hyatt

Peter Hyatt is a Statement Analyst and instructor who teaches statement analysis and analytical interviewing to law enforcement and corporate America. He has authored the investigator training manual for the DHHS and the State of Maine, as well as the book Wise As a Serpent; Gentle as a Dove. He has been interviewed extensively on radio and television, including the nationally televised program, “Crime Watch Daily” and “Taken Too Soon: The Katelyn Markham Story” documentary.

Peter has analyzed statements made in many high-profile crimes and missing person cases, such as Jon Benet Ramsey, Hailey Dunn, Darlie Routier, and Santa Claus on his blog at http://statement-analysis.blogspot.com.

Lyle Sharman

Lyle is the owner/operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations (www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com). Prior to opening his own business, Lyle entered law enforcement and became a Tactical Trainer. During that time he was offered a position to be a bodyguard for the CEO of Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He spent the next 21 years as an expert in Executive Personal Protection, and Director of Security and Surveillance with Mandalay Bay.

Lyle is a nationally known expert in missing person cases, having worked and solved over 35 of them. He has appeared in several television shows and has regularly appeared in the nationally recognized crime show Crime Watch Daily.

Tom Shamshak

Tom owns and operates Shamshak Investigative Services, Inc., a private investigation firm that was established in July 1999. Tom’s firm specializes in criminal defense investigations, cold case murders, and missing person cases. Tom also consults as a police procedures expert and has worked for both plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel. He has testified in federal and state courts as a police procedures expert. Tom is a retired law enforcement professional. During a 21 year career, Tom worked in three Massachusetts municipal police departments, and served as a police chief of two communities. Tom is a Life Member of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, and a Life Member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Tom earned a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Suffolk University, a Master of Science degree from the Graduate School of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, and has pursued doctoral studies at Boston College.

During his law enforcement career, Tom was a police trainer and served as a police academy director. In addition, he served as a college instructor and has taught criminal justice and sociology courses at Anna Maria College, Boston College, and Middlesex Community College. From 2005-2015, Tom served as the Program Director and Lead Instructor of Boston University’s Certificate in Professional Investigation.

Tom is affiliated with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Since 2005, he has been a member of Project ALERT, a division that investigates unresolved missing children cases. Tom has also served as the Public Safety Consultant to the Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly.

Tom has made numerous guest appearances as an expert commentator on local and national television networks and news magazine broadcasts. He has provided commentary on a variety of topics including criminal investigations, unsolved murders, missing persons, security matters, and terrorism. He has appeared on CNN, HLN, Court TV, TruTV, Fox News, Investigation Discovery, 20/20, NPR radio, and the local Boston affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox 25, NBC, and WGBH. He has also served as a consulting investigator for the A&E reality series, Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal, and he appeared in four episodes.

Tom is a past president of the Licensed Private Detectives Association of Massachusetts.

www.shamshakpi.com.

Pete Klismet

Pete Klismet served his country with two tours in Vietnam on submarines. Following military service, he earned a college degree, and then worked for the Ventura Police Department in Southern California.  While there, he attended graduate school, earning master’s degrees from two universities in Southern California.  He was offered and accepted an appointment as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a twenty-year career with the FBI, Pete was highly decorated, served with distinction in three field offices, and received numerous awards and recognition from the FBI. Pete was selected to be one of the original ‘profilers’ for the FBI, perhaps the FBI’s most famed unit.

Before his retirement from the FBI, Pete was named the 1999 National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Following his retirement, he accepted a position as an Associate Professor and Department Chair of a Criminal Justice program at a college in Colorado.  Having retired from that, Pete and his wife Nancy live in Fort Collins, Colorado. Pete is the author of three national award-winning, non-fiction books: FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil, FBI Animal House, and FBI Diary: Home Grown Terror. His background as an FBI profiler proved beneficial in two of the books.

Gene Cervantes

Gene is retired from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he served as Classification Staff Representative. His previous positions include Classification and Parole Representative, Correctional Counselor, Parole Agent and Group Supervisor. He is Peace Officer Standard Training (POST) certified. In the fall of 2005, following the murders of his cousin and her husband, he joined Citizens Against Homicide (http://www.citizensagainsthomicide.org) and currently serves as a Board Member and Victim Advocate. You can reach Gene at 209 743-7033.

 

 

Lyle Sharman, Owner/Operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations. http://www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com/index.htmLyle Sharman, Owner/Operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations. http://www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com/index.htmLyle Sharman, Owner/Operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations. http://www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com/index.htm

Justice For Molly Bish

February 9, 2017

A few minutes before 10 o’clock on the morning of June 27, 2000, Magi Bish dropped her daughter Molly off at the local swimming hole, Comins Pond, in the town of Warren, Mass. The 16-year-old Molly, a high school junior, had just started a summer job as a lifeguard there the week before.

The parking lot was empty, except for a dump truck dropping off a load of sand. Magi, watched her daughter walk toward the beach. She then waited for the dump truck to drive out before driving away. But when swimmers arrived twenty minutes later, the only traces of Molly were her water-bottle, sandals, a police radio and an opened first aid kit. Molly had vanished, and for Magi and her husband John, a nightmare like no other began.

The only lead the police had to work with was a man Magi remembered having seen when she dropped Molly off the previous day. He had been sitting alone in a white vehicle in the parking lot. Nervous over his presence, Magi waited around for about 20 minutes until the man drove off.

The ensuing search for Molly became the most extensive in Massachusetts history.  Molly’s story was told on America’s Most Wanted, 48 Hours, Court TV, Unsolved Mysteries, Larry King, Nancy Grace and other national and local media outlets.

But in spite of everyone’s best efforts, Molly’s fate remained a mystery for three long years. And then in June 2003, the search for Molly came to a heartbreaking end when 26 of her bones were found scattered on the side of a mountain only five miles from her home. Molly was buried on her 20th Birthday.

Investigators believed Molly’s killer was probably a local with intimate knowledge of the area. However, no arrests were made and the case went cold.

And then in January, 2009, a suspect surfaced, 60-year-old Rodney Stanger. He was a longtime resident of Southbridge, Mass., located just a few miles from Warren. Stanger had moved to Florida the year after Molly disappeared. Neighbors say he was an outdoorsman who was known to hunt and fish in the area around Comins Pond. And he had access to his brother’s car, which was same type that Magi had seen the day before Molly disappeared. He also matched the composite sketch of the driver of that car.

Stanger was brought to the attention of the authorities when the Massachusetts State Police got a call from the sister of Stanger’s live-in girlfriend, Crystal Morrison. The sister told police that Crystal had hinted to her that Stanger was involved in Molly’s murder. On February 25, 2008, just days after the conversation between the sisters, Crystal was found stabbed to death in their mobile home. Rodney Stanger was charged with the murder.

On October 28, 2010, under a negotiated plea deal with prosecutors, the now 62-year-old Stanger was sentenced to serve 25 years in a Florida prison for second-degree murder of Crystal Morrison, and concurrent sentences for burglary of a dwelling and battery. The chances of Stanger ever breathing free air again are slim.

On the Molly Bish Foundation Website is this message from Molly’s parents, Magi and John Bish:

“We will find… the person that harmed her. It’s been a journey, a story of love and loss, but we are still hopeful and we want Molly to know we’ll never give up.”

If Rodney Stanger is in fact Molly’s murderer, let’s hope sufficient evidence can be developed to charge and convict him. The Bish family’s journey needs to come to an end. And Molly is entitled to justice.

 

 

The Rise and Fall of Tony Spilotro

February 6, 2017

The manuscript is at the publisher and is in the second of three phases of editing. When the editing is completed, the cover will be designed and we’ll go on the production schedule. I’m hoping the book will be released by early May.

Our current plan is to do a kickoff book signing at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.

cruise-mobster

Denny Griffin, true crime author

 

Crime Wire Consultants

February 2, 2017

The people listed below have volunteered to serve as consultants to Crime Wire and to review cold case murders on a pro bono basis. I can’t thank them enough for their willingness to apply their expertise to help bring resolution or a sense of peace to the survivors of murder victims.

Pat Caristo

Pat is the Executive Director of the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death (http://bridgesforvictimsofviolentdeath.org). She has been a licensed, working private investigator since 1985, specializing in the area of unsolved homicide investigations. Her many years of investigative experience include the Philadelphia Police Department (which commended her for heroism), the UNM Police Department and the NM Organized Crime Prevention Commission. Pat is trained and experienced as an intelligence analyst and crime-prevention specialist. She has taught sex crimes investigation/crime prevention classes at the NM Law Enforcement Academy and the UNM Law and Medical Schools. She currently teaches investigative-related classes for the UNM Continuing Education Department.

William “BILL” Sullivan

Bill was born and raised in Marengo, Illinois. He attended Southern Illinois University and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 1969. He was elected Coroner in Dekalb County in 1975.

In 1979 he was chosen as the only Coroner in the U. S. to assist nine other experts in compiling a manual for the correct way to investigate deaths —a project of the US Justice Dept.

In 1984 Bill became the Director of Operations for the Onondaga County (New York) Medical Examiner’s Office, a position that made him the office administrator and chief investigator.

In 1988, he formed Forensic Consulting Specialties (FCS) and became licensed by the State of New York as a Private Investigator. FCS (www.f-c-s.com) performs specialty investigations such as murder and suspicious death cases, autopsy and second autopsies, as well as regular civil and criminal investigations.

Peter Hyatt

Peter is a Statement Analyst and instructor who teaches statement analysis and analytical interviewing to law enforcement and corporate America. He has authored the investigator training manual for the DHHS and the State of Maine, as well as the book Wise As a Serpent; Gentle as a Dove. He has been interviewed extensively on radio and television, including the nationally televised program, “Crime Watch Daily” and “Taken Too Soon: The Katelyn Markham Story” documentary.

Peter has analyzed statements made in many high-profile crimes and missing person cases, such as Jon Benet Ramsey, Hailey Dunn, Darlie Routier, and Santa Claus on his blog at http://statement-analysis.blogspot.com.

Lyle Sharman

Lyle is the owner/operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations (www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com). Prior to opening his own business, Lyle entered law enforcement and became a Tactical Trainer. During that time he was offered a position to be a bodyguard for the CEO of Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He spent the next 21 years as an expert in Executive Personal Protection, and Director of Security and Surveillance with Mandalay Bay.

Lyle is a nationally known expert in missing person cases, having worked and solved over 35 of them. He has appeared in several television shows and has regularly appeared in the nationally recognized crime show Crime Watch Daily.

Gene Cervantes

Gene is retired from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he served as Classification Staff Representative. His previous positions include Classification and Parole Representative, Correctional Counselor, Parole Agent and Group Supervisor. He is Peace Officer Standard Training (POST) certified. In the fall of 2005, following the murders of his cousin and her husband, he joined Citizens Against Homicide (http://www.citizensagainsthomicide.org) and currently serves as a Board Member and Victim Advocate. You can reach Gene at 209 743-7033.

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Changes Needed

January 30, 2017

Before my retirement in 1994 I spent 20 years in law enforcement and investigations. As you might guess, I was and still am very much pro law enforcement.

Soon after retiring I began writing fiction and true crime books, and a few years ago created the Crime Wire Internet radio show with Susan Murphy Milano. We dealt with topics that included missing persons, domestic violence and unsolved murders. The show went on hiatus after Susan passed, but is now back and in full swing. It has been while doing Crime Wire that I really started looking at unsolved murders from the standpoint of the victim’s survivors, and there are a few things that I find bothersome. I’ll talk about two of them here.

One is the lack of options available to the survivors if they find reason to believe the police investigation was lacking in some respect; and the handling agency won’t address the situation in a manner satisfactory to the survivor. What can be done?

Many people think they can simply take their concerns to another agency with jurisdiction and that agency will take over the investigation. For example, the county sheriff can intervene over a town or village department, and a state agency can replace the sheriff. In reality, however, the odds of that happening are slim to none. The agency you are looking to for help won’t get involved unless there is evidence of malfeasance in the initial investigation, or the handling agency or the district attorney “invites” them in. The request of the survivor by itself is not sufficient.

The second thing, which is my main peeve, is the difficulty in obtaining police records and reports and/or coroner reports and photos. My comments will be general in nature because every jurisdiction has its own rules and regulations that will vary from place to place.

There are many perfectly valid reasons for the police not to release information that could compromise an active investigation. I have no issue with withholding information to protect the integrity of the investigation.

I do have concerns, though, when talking about cold cases that have been inactive for many years or decades. In all too many of the cases I’ve heard of, the police agency refuses to release any information, citing the open case exemption to complying with the FOIA or Sunshine Laws in the specific state.

Suppose the survivor has the resources to hire a private investigator to pursue the 30-year-old murder case the police haven’t updated her on in ten years. She’d like to see what the police have done to perhaps give her investigator some ideas or save him a few steps. I submit that the reports could be released, even if partially redacted. Or at a minimum, a synopsis of the case could be made available.

How about the survivor who bumps into some friends of her husband who was murdered eight years ago? These friends were the last known people to have seen her husband alive. They ask her how the investigation is coming and wonder why the police never interviewed them. Concerned about the quality and depth of the investigation she wants to look at the records to see what was actually done. “Sorry Ma’am, it’s an open case and we’re prohibited from allowing you access to the file.”

In this example the open case status can be used to conceal sloppy police work under the guise of protecting the integrity of the investigation. Because only the police can see the file, how will the survivor ever know if the investigation was a sincere effort to find the truth? Where is the transparency?

I believe there needs to be a mechanism for survivors to have access to open-case police files under certain circumstances. Such as: the case has been inactive for a specific number of years or there is credible reason to believe the initial investigation was incompetently conducted or corrupt.

Getting changes made will be a very tough uphill battle and will require the support of as many groups and individuals who are interested in helping survivors as possible. Still, it would be a worthwhile fight.