The Story… begins in 1995 with Lonnie (known as "Ted") Binion of Las Vegas who was the 55 year old heir to Binion's Horseshoe Casino. During that time, there was also a young, southern California, blonde, surfer, named Sandy Murphy (age 23) who made her first trip to Las Vegas. There she lost over $10,000.00, her life savings, playing blackjack at Caesar's Palace. It was initially reported, that in order to cover her losses, Ms. Murphy took a job as a topless dancer at a Club called Cheetah's, but Murphy claims that she was working at the club as an Independent Contractor selling costumes to the dancers who worked there. Cheetah's was one of Ted Binion's favorite night spots, where he was known for picking up topless dancers. That is where Binion
and Murphy met. Sandy Murphy's profile on the Court TV's website quotes Ms. Murphy as saying, "I really didn't know who Ted Binion was or what the Binion family was."
It is reported that Binion and Murphy grew quite close, and on March 7, 1995, Binion moved her into his home on Palomino Lane. It was not long before Murphy quickly fell into his rich Las Vegas lifestyle, which seems to have included violence, sex, drugs, physical and verbal abuse. Sandy Murphy claims that she was never after Binion's money or that she had any knowledge of his reputation on the local scene.
Early in 1998, Ted Binion met and befriended a struggling contractor by the name of Rick Tabish, in the restroom of one of Las Vegas' high-end restaurants. Apparently Tabish was not a very savvy businessman because he continually lost money through weak business dealings, and what seemed to be a sandpit and trucking company on the verge of failure. It appears that for some years,
Binion had been amassing a hoard of silver coins and bars which he stored in an old freezer in the basement of his casino. Binion wanted to retire. The efforts of his new friend Tabish and his girlfriend Murphy in talking him into liquidating the silver were not well received. Binion felt the price of silver was too low and he wanted to wait for a more advantageous time. So, before his sister Becky took possession of the casino, Tabish was hired to construct an underground vault on the property of his desert ranch in nearby Pahrump, Nevada. The vault was constructed, and on July 4, 1998, Tabish filled the vault with 46,000 pounds of silver from the basement hiding place of
Binion's Horseshoe Casino. About two months later, Binion was found dead.
On September 17, 1998, paramedics found Ted Binion dead in the den of his Las Vegas home that he had shared with Murphy for about 3 1/2 years. Initially, investigators thought Binion, who struggled with an drug addiction, passed away from a overdose of tar heroin, Xanax and Valium, drugs he had purchased a day earlier. The 911 telephone call to police to report the death was made by Murphy an estimated four to ten hours later, and she was reported to have cried to the 911 operator that her "husband" was not breathing (Binion and Murphy were not married).
One day after the death of Binion, Murphy is seen on a videotape pointing out which possessions she wants from the estate; accusing the Binion family of removing items from the house in her absence; and, pocketing a wine glass that investigators believe may have contained the drug mixture that was forcibly poured down Ted Binion's throat. Two days after Binion's death, at 2 a.m., sheriff deputies caught Tabish and two assistants, excavating the last of Binion's estimated $7 million of silver coins and bars from the underground desert vault. Their report also stated that they found Tabish's briefcase at the scene containing a safe combination and a handwritten note from Murphy proclaiming her love for him.
These events along with private investigations begun by the Binion family, initiated an additional investigation by police. What was thought to be an overdose now became a murder probe. The police probe into the death of Binion led to the arrest of Murphy and Tabish about nine months later.
Murphy and Tabish began an affair during the summer of 1998. Tabish bragged about the affair. Both Murphy and Tabish knew about the $7 million of silver; tried to convince Binion to sell it; and, knew of the underground desert vault. The prosecution's medical examiner, Dr. Michael Baden, theorized that Binion was force-fed the drug mixture which disoriented him, and allowed him to be suffocated. Tabish's involvement was reinforced by his attempt to excavate the silver. Murphy was listed as a beneficiary in Binion's will. Binion's estate attorney filed a petition stating that Binion told him over the telephone, "Get Sandy out of the will if she doesn't kill me tonight. If I'm dead, you'll know what happened to me." Binion was dead before the will could be changed. Tabish needed money because he was cash-strapped. Tabish had previous run-ins with the law. He was convicted twice in Montana, once for burglary and once for conspiracy to possess narcotics. In addition, he was also charged (along with two associates) in the kidnapping and torture of business associate Leo Casey in July 1998. Murphy and Tabish were tried and convicted on May 19, 2000, after an eight day deliberation by the jury. Tabish was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and Murphy received a minimum 22 years. In July 2003, in a 4 to 3 decision the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Murphy and Tabish because of improper courtroom procedures. This led to a retrial, and in November of 2004 a seven-man, five-woman jury returned a verdict after 19 hours of deliberations. Murphy and Tabish were acquitted of the most serious charges of which they were prosecuted. The Las Vegas jury cited a lack of medical evidence for their decision. Through a provision in Binion's will, Murphy may be able to claim $1.2 million pending the outcome of a wrongful-death suit brought against her by the Binion family.