Las Vegas casino heir Ted Binion (of Binion’s Horseshoe, now known as Binion’s Gambling Hall,) was found dead in 1998, but the mystery surrounding his death still hasn’t been solved. He left behind millions buried in the Nevada desert, and rumors are that there is much more treasure to be found. Was his death suicide? Murder? His girlfriend Sandy Murphy was convicted of murdering him in 2000, but she was released four years later. Sandy is speaking now to Dateline in an episode airing tonight titled “What Happened in Vegas.” Does she have the answers everyone is looking for?
After his death, police found $5 million buried at one of his rural properties, but there are rumors that Ted Binion left before much more treasure. He would constantly stash money and assets anywhere to hide his wealth from the government and the bank.
Sandy Murphy met Ted Binion after she went broke at one of his casinos. She lost about $12,000, which all of her life’s savings at the time. It’s been rumored that she was a stripper because they met at a strip club, but Sandy insisted in an episode of True CSI that aired in 2004 that she was never a stripper. They immediately hit it off and soon moved in together.
Sandy was the one who discovered his dead body on September 17, 1998. Toxicology reports indicated that Ted had died from an overdose of heroin and Xanax. Shortly before his death, Ted had gotten a prescription for Xanax from his friend and neighbor Dr. Enrique Lacayo and had scored black tar heroin off of the street the day before dying.
Sandy told police that Ted had been addicted to heroin for 20 years, but he had been suicidal since he lost his gambling license over his ties to the mob.
Initially, police believe his death to be suicide, but nine months later they looked further into Sandy at the insistence of the Binion family. Sandy Murphy and her boyfriend Rick Tabish were eventually charged with Ted Binion’s murder. Sandy maintains her innocence and thinks that she is a scapegoat for Ted’s death.
Suspiciously enough, the day Ted Binion died he had cut Sandy out of his will and two days after Ted’s death, Sandy’s boyfriend Rick went out to Pahrump, Las Vegas, where Ted was rumored to have a $7 million stash of buried silver. He was discovered by police attempting to steal silver coins and bars from Ted’s bunker on the property. Police found millions in silver that Rick was trying to steal, but many believe there is much more on the property, and possibly elsewhere. In 2019, three men were arrested for digging holes on the property in an attempt to find Ted’s treasure.
At trial, the prosecution argued that Sandy and Rick murdered Ted Binion by sedating him with Xanax and heroin, and then smothering him, so they could steal his money. In 2000, they were convicted of murder.
In 2003, the murder convictions for both Sandy and Rick were overturned on a technicality. The Nevada state Supreme Court threw out the prior convictions because the judge at the time did not make prosecutors try an extortion case against Rick Tabish separately. They argued that the evidence for the extortion charge unfairly prejudiced the jury when considering if the defendants were guilty of murder.
In 2010 Sandy spoke with Orange Coast magazine about her new life outside of prison. She was dating art dealer Kevin Pieropan and working in his gallery.
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