Aug 17, 2022
Mysterious Deaths At Lake Mead Indicate Possible Connection To Mob Transcript
Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada, is at its lowest water level in more than 80 years allowing authorities to discover human remains, some of them in barrels with bullet holes in the head. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Tonight, a mystery deepening in Nevada with human remains discovered at Lake Mead four times since May. Authorities say the finds are still under investigation, but among locals questions about ties to Sin City’s notoriously violent mafia mount. It all started May 1st when boaters on the Las Vegas area reservoir discovered a body in a barrel with authorities say a gunshot wound to the head. They added the victim wore outdated clothes likely killed in the seventies or eighties.
Geoff Schumacher: (00:29)
This was a methodology to dispose of a body.
Speaker 1: (00:32)
Geoff Schumacher, vice president of the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, immediately took notice.
Maggie Vespa: (00:37)
So that’s not just Hollywood folklore? That actually happened?
Geoff Schumacher: (00:42)
It’s definitely not just Hollywood. And we found dozens and dozens of cases where bodies were stuffed into barrels and disposed of in various ways all over the country, actually all over the world, dating back to the mid-1800s.
Speaker 1: (00:56)
Among the top theories, that first body in the barrel may have been put there by a notorious mob enforcer, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, or his crew. Spilotro, the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in Casino.
Joe Pesci: (01:08)
What people? Would you think I wasn’t going to find out?
Speaker 1: (01:11)
Spilotro moved to Las Vegas in the early seventies heading the so-called “Hole In The Wall Gang.” The FBI, Schumacher says, traced 25 murders to Spilotro during the seventies and eighties. A violent chapter of America’s past with a potential new layer lurking beneath a lake’s surface.
Geoff Schumacher: (01:29)
I don’t think very many people ever thought about dredging Lake Mead to look for mob victims. It just wasn’t something that came up until this barrel was discovered.
Speaker 1: (01:40)
Less than a week after that first find, on May 7th, another barrel, another body. This time on the shoreline. Police have yet to make the mob connection. Cut to July, discovery number three. More remains on a popular beach. Again, officials say that cause of death, like this latest set of remains found, is still a mystery.
Oscar Goodman: (01:59)
They keep on calling me up, “Oscar, who did it?” I said, “How am I supposed to know who did it?” I didn’t order it. I’ll tell you that.
Speaker 1: (02:07)
Former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman who represented mob figures as a lawyer spoke with our affiliate KNSV back in May.
Oscar Goodman: (02:14)
I tried a lot of cases. I tried quite a few cases where there were allegations that my clients, some, a lot, shot people.
Speaker 1: (02:24)
What is clear, the reason these remains are surfacing now. A mid record drought, Lake Mead which sits 30 miles east of Sin City, is rapidly receding. Now at its lowest levels since 1937 when it was first filled. The shrinking lake revealing potentially dark secrets.
Speaker 6: (02:42)
All right. Maggie Vespa joins us now live from Chicago. Maggie, this is truly a fascinating story. Now we mentioned you’re in Chicago there, a city with infamous mafia history and a possible tie as our expert pointed out to this story. Why does he think there could be a connection to that infamous Chicago mobster depicted in Casino?
Maggie Vespa: (03:00)
Right. Well, because basically during the seventies and eighties, the mob was everywhere. I mean, yes, Chicago has a history. Vegas has a history. But it was in several cities across the country and they were all interconnected. And this might shock you, but Schumacher basically said that mob, sort of mobsters and lead mobsters, in Chicago had a strong interest in developing ties with Las Vegas casinos. So that’s obviously one theory there.
Maggie Vespa: (03:22)
He also has a theory, by the way, as to who the victim in that first barrel might be including a hotel manager who had mafia ties, also had a boat on Lake Mead, and went missing at the time. But there are several theories out there as to who these different people are. And you can bet a lot of people will be watching to see the identities of these victims who are now turning up.