Real Name: Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel
Date: June 20, 1947
Location: Los Angeles, California
Details: Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was born in Brooklyn where he became a hoodlum, graduating later to the Mafia. He was known for being especially violent. After he was injured in a bombing, he sneaked out of the hospital and had his associates drive him to the suspect's home. He then shot the suspect and was returned to the hospital without anyone else knowing.
He formed a partnership with Meyer Lansky, an organized crime syndicate that sold liquor during Prohibition. The syndicate later became involved in gambling, prostitution, and murder-for-hire. In the early 1940s, they teamed up with Lucky Luciano. When they decided to expand their territory, they sent Bugsy to California to take control of gambling. While there, he faced a major problem: Jack Dragna, who controlled a lucrative wire business used by bookies across the country. He threatened to kill Jack if he didn't give up his wire business. Jack agreed to give it up.
While in Los Angeles, he began a relationship with alleged mob cash courier Virginia Hill. He also hired Cleveland gangster Mickey Cohen as his personal bodyguard. When casinos began appearing in Las Vegas, Bugsy decided to open his own: the Flamingo. Lansky and Luciano helped finance the casino, giving him $1 million. However, Bugsy used all of this money and more trying to build the casino.
He also allegedly started skimming on the profits and he was the victim of a hit on his life on June 20, 1947, shot to death at his girlfriend's home in Beverly Hills. It has long been the tradition in history that the order for the hit came from Lansky and Luciano. However, since his murder, there has been speculation that Bugsy was possibly taken out by other people who wanted him dead.
Suspects: There were multiple suspects in Bugsy's murder. One of the suspects was Jack Dragna, who controlled a lucrative wire business used by bookies across the country. Bugsy threatened to kill him if he did not give up his wire business. Dragna agreed to give it up, although this gave him a motive to kill Bugsy. After Bugsy died, he got his wire service back.
Another suspect was his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, who was also an alleged cash courier for the mob. She was apparently living a double life, working also for the Chicago mob. She fed them information on Bugsy's activities. Interestingly, she was out of town on the night that Bugsy was killed in her home.
Cleveland gangster Mickey Cohen was yet another suspect. Bugsy liked him because he stood up to him. As a result, Bugsy hired him as his personal bodyguard. After the murder, Cohen was given control of west coast gambling. He would have never gotten the promotion if Bugsy was still alive.
Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano were also considered suspects. They were concerned about Bugsy spending too much of investors' money for the casino. They suspected that he was also spending the money on his girlfriend Virginia. Just twenty minutes after the murder, two members of the Lansky-Luciano mob took control of the Flamingo casino.
Some suspect that all of the suspects were involved in the murder. They believe that Virginia supplied the location and received some reward. Cohen knew Bugsy's schedule for the evening, but happened to not be watching him that night. They believe that Dragna ordered the hit, with the approval of Lansky and Luciano. However, this theory has not been confirmed.
All of the known suspects are now deceased.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 2, 1999 episode.
Results: Unsolved. In 2014, a new suspect emerged in the case: a Slavic truck driver and crane operator named Mathew “Moose” Pandza. Pandza was the lover of Bee Sedway, the wife of Siegel’s best friend and mob partner Moe Sedway. Shortly before his death in July of 2014, Sedway's son Robbie came forward with information about the case. In 1947, Bugsy threatened to have Moe killed. When Bee learned of this, she arranged to have her lover, Moose, kill Bugsy to protect her husband. Some of this information was corroborated by interviews with Sedway's family members and a filmed interview with Bee from 1993. However, investigators have not confirmed this theory; they still consider the murder an open case.
- Bugsy Siegel on Unsolved.com
- Bugsy Siegel on Wikipedia
- Who Killed Bugsy Siegel? 50 Years Later, Still a Mystery - June 20, 1997
- Who Killed Bugsy Siegel? - September 29, 2014
- Bugsy Siegel's 1947 Murder: Has It Finally Been Solved? - October 2, 2014
- Seventy years ago today, Bugsy Siegel's storied Mob life came to an abrupt end - June 20, 2017