George Knapp was joined by Wendy Mazaros and journalist Joe Schoenmann for a discussion on their book Vegas Rag Doll, which chronicles Mazaros' life with Tom and Gramby Hanley, a Las Vegas father and son hitman team who performed murders-for-hire on behalf of mobsters, casino owners, labor unions, and others. "It's very astounding that she was at the center of this human maelstrom," Schoenmann said about Mazaros' relationship with Tom Hanley and her indoctrination into his family's nefarious lifestyle. She traced her story back to a dysfunctional home which led her to runaway at the age of 15 and fall into the clutches of a powerful casino owner in Las Vegas.
Following a tumultuous few years of prostitution and other sordid activities, Mazaros became romantically involved with Tom Hanley. After moving into the Hanley home, Mazaros said, she began to learn about the family's criminal dealings, such as bombings of restaurants that had run afoul of organized labor and murders of people that had crossed casino owners. Despite her growing knowledge of the Hanleys activities, Mazaros was fearful of asking questions or seeking help. "Tom taught me from the very start that 'silence is the fence around wisdom,'" she recalled. So powerful was Tom Hanley's grip on her that, after they'd been together only a few months, he forced Mazaros to pen her own suicide note as a form of insurance should she ever stray. "I was a little girl brainwashed and afraid and running with killers and I did what I was told to do," she lamented.
Schoenmann and Mazaros detailed a litany of murders and disappearances that are believed to have been the handiwork of the Hanleys. While the official death count attributed to them was merely seven, Schoenmann speculated that, "from what Wendy's told me, it was 19 to 20 victims" and surmised that it "easily could have been more." The Hanleys reign of terror would come to an end in the late 1970's after they were arrested for the murder of a powerful Las Vegas union leader and cut a deal with the FBI to reveal the connections between the mafia and unions in the city. Looking back on Mazaros' life amidst such carnage, Schoenmann mused that "it's a pretty horrific story" and opined that her survival was because "she learned to keep quiet and that's what she did."
Carnes Case Update
During the first hour, Jim Carnes provided an update on the case of his father, Patrick F. Carnes, who was driving with his lifelong dog companion, Lucky, traveling west from Ohio to Reno when he went missing last April. He said that investigators are looking into a myriad of tips that have come in since the story was first publicized, noting that many truckers have contributed suggestions and information which may help lead to a breakthrough. While Carnes noted that they have not ruled out any possibilities for what happened to his father, he was adamant that it is a solvable case. That said, he expressed frustration that the nature of his father's disappearance precludes the FBI investigating it, because it is a 'missing person' case and not, technically, a crime.