Death in the Desert: The Ted Binion Homicide Case by Cathy Scott (May 2001)

Publication Date:
May 2001
Paperback $11.99 or $4.99 for Kindle

Reviewed by:
On January 9, 2013
Last modified:January 9, 2013


Think you know everything about this case because you've seen the television shows? Think again!

Death In The Desert by Cathy Scott
Buy It Not On Amazon

Ted Binion was making money hand over fist managing his father’s Las Vegas casino.

Until he was suspended by the gaming commission for his out-of-control drug habit.

In 1998, Binion’s gaming license was banned, permanently restricting him from any type of working at any type of gambling establishment – including his family’s.

Amid all the chaos of Binion’s life was Sandra Murphy, a former topless dancer, and a lady whom many believed contributed to Binion’s inability to let go of the insanity of his life – which came to a screeching halt on September 17, 1998.

It was on this date Binion was found dead on a small air mattress on the floor of his Las Vegas home. Between autopsy findings of a lethal dosage combination of Xanax, Heroin, and Valium along with declarations by Murphy of Binion having been suicidal after his license revocation, his death was declared a probable suicide.

His family didn’t believe it nor homicide investigators. Something just wasn’t right. The death scene appeared staged. Binion had seemed despondent when talking with family members. And, investigators learned, Sandra Murphy had been having a fling Rick Tabish while living with Ted Binion and spending his money.

But the biggest indicator of all was likely the discovery of Tabish and some of his friends unearthing Binion’s buried huge vault of silver, cash, casino chips, and rare coins – only two days after he died!

Veteran crime journalist and author Cathy Scott chronicles the much-debated case of a millionaire’s murder, his hidden stash, a stripper to socialite girlfriend, and her love affair with the man hired to bury her boyfriend’s secrets in her 2001 book Death In The Desert.

I’d seen this case air a few times on a couple of Investigation Discovery shows but didn’t realize there was a book on the case until I was altered by an astute reader. I wondered if it wouldn’t be a repeat of what had aired on television but was pleasantly surprised to see Scott had delved deeper into the story, actually providing interesting information not able to be squeezed into a half-hour or hour long show.

Even if you’ve seen the television episodes on the case, you still want to read Death In The Desert because it’s a rollercoaster of a read!

Oh, and by the way, just when you think it ends, it doesn’t. There’s so much more and a surprise ending.

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