Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ted Binion

Shocked

While Detective Mitchell was interviewing Sandy at the hospital, Rick Tabish drove back to Ted Binions residence accompanied by one of his associates, Michael Milot.  Richard Wright, one of Binions attorneys, was at the residence when Tabish and Milot pulled up in front in Tabishs black Mercedes.

Im just totally shocked, Wright said.  I saw him last night, and he was in fine spirits.  We talked about the future and what he always talked about, looking for a new ranch.  Binion, Wright said, was also looking forward to appealing the Nevada Gaming Commissions revocation of his gaming license.  Binion, he said, had been a loyal friend for a long time.

I was on the way to the airport to fly home to my family in Montana, Tabish said, when I heard the news and headed over hereI know he was happy his sister took over the casino, and he hoped she would do a good job.  He was trying to stay out of the limelight, do some more fishing and advance his relationship with his girlfriendIts just such a tragedyI never had any bad dealings with the manWhat a tragedy.  I know he was trying really hard to change his life.

After introducing Milot to Wright and explaining that Milot was an executive in Tabishs business, MRT Transportation of Nevada, a company that specialized in hauling sand, Tabish explained that the police were interrogating Sandy at the hospital.  He asked Wright to accompany him back to the hospital to demand that the police interrogation be stopped.  Wright agreed.  However, by the time Tabish, Milot and Wright reached the hospital, Detective Mitchell had concluded his interview with Sandy.

Meanwhile, at Binions residence, LVMPD Detective Pat Franks had taken charge of the scene after putting in an already long day at work.  As part of his preliminary survey of the suspicious death scene, Franks noted the names of the paramedics and fire department personnel and anyone else, including Sandy Murphy, who had entered the scene prior to his arrival.  As he continued his observations, Franks noted that the living room drapes, which hung ceiling to floor, were drawn, causing the room to be quite dark.  He then walked through the living room and passed by a grand piano as he made his way down a hallway that led to other rooms of the house.  It was a cursory examination at this point, but he wanted to get a feel for the layout of the house as he found his way back to the southeast den, located a few feet east of the front door.  Lying on the floor were a pair of sunglasses and a set of keys, which he later determined belonged to Sandra Murphy.  Franks observed Binions body lying face up on the mattress, his head resting on a white pillow.

Binions arms were at the side of his body, and his legs were straight.  His body was clad only in a pair of briefs and an unbuttoned long sleeve shirt.  Franks observed a pair of jeans and a pair of loafers to the left of Binions knees, an empty pill bottle labeled Xanax to the right of Binions head, an open package of Vantage cigarettes, two disposable cigarette lighters, and a remote control unit, all of which were next to Binions body.  Although Franks had observed a number of firearms in some of the other rooms of the house, there were no weapons present in the den.

Criminalists were ordered to the home and they arrived a short time later to begin processing it in the usual manner that is required when a death has occurred under suspicious circumstances.  Crime scene analyst Mike Perkins examined all of the doors and windows and found all of them secured except for a window in one of the rear bathrooms.  He observed a chair beneath the window on the outside of the home that, he presumed, someone had used to stand on to gain entry into the house through the bathroom window.  He would later learn the details about the use of the chair that Detective Mitchell had obtained from Sandy Murphy during his interview with her at the hospital.

When Perkins entered the adjacent bathroom, he soon discovered what he suspected was narcotics paraphernalia.  A large knife with brown residue on its blade lay on a small table.  Next to the knife was what appeared to be a clean piece of aluminum foil, as well as an ashtray.  Perkins found what looked like a small piece of a red rubber balloon on the floor next to the table.  When he checked inside the trash can he found another piece of balloon, this one pink in color, as well as several pieces of crumpled aluminum foil.  He suspected that the brown substance on the knife was heroin, and reasoned that the aluminum foil had likely been cupped and formed into a spoon like shape in which to smoke the drug.  He knew from his experience with addicts and training that some addicts place the heroin onto the foil, heat it with a flame and inhale the smoke that is produced. Perkins and Franks bagged, marked and impounded all of the items for additional analysis at the crime laboratory.

Ted Binion
Ted Binion (POLICE)

As the evening wore on and police investigators and crime scene analysts continued with their work, friends and associates of Ted Binions showed up at his home to try and find out what had happened.  One of those who showed up was the famous defense attorney, and now mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, whose claim to fame was defending mobsters.

This is a sad, sad time, said Goodman of his friends death.  He was one of the best guys I ever met.

Becky Binion-Behnen, Binions sister, also showed up wanting to know what had happened to her brother.  LVMPD Sergeant Jim Young told her that even though Binions death was considered suspicious, they could not say whether foul play was involved or not.

At first glance, said Young, the scene indicated that this was not intentional.  Were not one-hundred percent certain that it was accidental or intentional, but there is no evidence to make us believe it was intentional.  Young indicated that investigators had reason to believe that Binion had been taking prescription medication for possible stress-related problems, and cited the empty bottle of Xanax found next to Binions body.

That was not Ted, said Binion-Behnen, who told investigators that she had never known her brother to take prescription drugs.  Ted would be the first to tell you that his drug of choice was heroin.

The investigators recalled that it was his heroin and cocaine use that had caused Binion problems with the gaming commission a few years earlier and was an issue that was brought up again more recently, earlier in 1998, when Binions gaming license was revoked for good.  But during his fight to retain his license, Binion had continuously insisted that he had remained drug free and he had the results of more than 160 drug tests that backed him up, despite the fact that he had shown up for a drug test on one occasion with his head and body completely shaved which would make it impossible to remove hair samples to properly administer the drug test.  The investigators reasoned that it was possible, however, that he had relapsed within the past few days.

When the condition of Binions mental state and the possibility of suicide were brought up, Binions sister was quick to discount it.

I talked to him all week, said Binion-Behnen, and he was not despondent.  Ted would never take his own life.  She said that although Binion had been fighting with Sandy Murphy all week, he indicated that he still aspired to one day regain his share of the Horseshoe and return to the business he loved.  Ted was one of the most knowledgeable people in the gaming industry, she said.

Ted Binion, according to those who knew him, was indeed a knowledgeable man whose interests went beyond gaming.  He was known to intelligently discuss guns, biology, history, various types of animals, particularly horses, with just about anyone, even strangers he would meet at the casino.  Now he was dead, and by the end of day one of the investigation the police were leaning toward an accidental drug overdose as the cause of death.  Even though Binions sister urged the police to treat her brothers death as a homicide there wasnt, at this point, enough evidence to support such an investigation.  If there were in fact answers that would lead them toward homicide those answers would likely only materialize through an autopsy of his body and associated toxicology tests.  For now, Binions death was listed as undetermined, according to homicide Lieutenant Wayne Petersen.

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