Tonight’s new two-hour Dateline episode on NBC documents the mysterious death of Ted Binion, the heir of his father Benny Binion’s gaming empire in Las Vegas.
Ted Binion died on September 17, 1998, at the age of just 54 years old. His death has since been the subject of much scrutiny, largely due to his death being as mysterious as the life he lived.
Binion was found dead inside his Las Vegas home with both illegal and prescription drugs by his side. One of the five children of Benny Binion, Ted lived an atypical life that included numerous run-ins with the law.
Ted Binion was linked to mob figures. He lost his gaming license in March of 1998 after the Nevada Gaming Commission ruled that his association with the Chicago Outfit and mobster Herbert “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein rendered him unsuitable to be involved in the industry.
A Texas native, Benny Binion first made his fortune by running illegal gambling networks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He later moved to Nevada and became a downtown Las Vegas gaming pioneer when he opened Binion’s in 1951. Binion was also responsible for creating the World Series of Poker in 1970.
Dateline: What Happened in Vegas premieres tonight at 9 pm ET.
True Crime in Sin City
Sandra Murphy, Binion’s girlfriend at the time of his death, was charged and found guilty of murdering him.
A jury concluded that Murphy and her secret lover, Rick Tabish, murdered Binion in order to steal money and possessions, including large amounts of silver, from the casino heir’s vault. Murphy and Tabish, however, were later acquitted after being granted new trials.
Ted Binion was a most unusual character. He was known to store large amounts of cash and valuables inside his home, and also buried treasures throughout Nevada.
Shortly after his death, Nevada investigators probing the case discovered Tabish at the site of a 12-foot-deep vault Binion dug on vacant land he owned in Pahrump. The concrete bunker contained silver, rare coins, silver dollars, and casino chips valued as high as $14 million. A construction contractor later confessed to building the vault for Binion after he was banned from the Nevada gaming industry.
What happened in Vegas… didn’t stay there.
It’s on a new #Dateline with @Dateline_Keith Friday 9/8c. pic.twitter.com/3T0zqk3pRx
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) January 13, 2022
Despite being found not guilty of murder, Tabish and Murphy were later found guilty of grand larceny and burglary. Tabish received 25 years to life, and Murphy 22 years to life. Murphy was granted parole in 2003, and Tabish was released from prison in 2010.
Dateline in 2020 aired an episode documenting the murder mystery of retired FBI agent Scott Horn, who was a regular and last seen in 2017 at the Live! Casino & Hotel in Maryland. His wife was charged with his murder, but acquitted. Horn’s murder remains unsolved.
Murphy Denies Involvement
In clips released by NBC, Murphy denies having any involvement in Binion’s death.
I fell in love with Teddy. I thought he was great,” Morgan contends. “When you love somebody, you don’t quit. I don’t think anyone could possibly understand what it’s like to find someone that you love not knowing if they’re dead or alive.”
Teasing a potential conclusion in a decades-old mystery, Dateline correspondent Keith Morrison tells viewers, “A crazy story that really never added up. Until… maybe, now.”
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