Additional human remains were discovered over the weekend at drought-stricken Lake Mead near Las Vegas.
This is the fourth set of human remains found since May along the lake’s receding shoreline about 30 minutes east of the downtown casino district.
Of the four sets found since May 1, including the discovery on Saturday, only the skeletal remains stuffed inside a corroded metal barrel are considered the result of foul play so far. Others could be related to accidental drownings, officials said.
None of the four sets have been identified.
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Violent Mob Era
The barrel incident has attracted global attention. The man in the barrel, killed by a gunshot, is thought to have been dumped in what was then deep water in the mid-1970s to early ’80s. The man’s clothing determined the date.
During this era, mobsters were active in Las Vegas, stealing untaxed revenue from casinos — called “skimming” — and controlling street rackets such as burglary and illegal bookmaking.
Mob figures during this period also were suspected of shootings and car bombings, along with other violence.
The car of journalist Ned Day, who reported on Las Vegas mobsters during the 1970s and ‘80s, was firebombed in a July 1986 incident that has never been solved. Day was not in the car at the time. He died in 1987 at age 42 while snorkeling in Hawaii.
In the early 1980s, sports betting oddsmaker and Chicago Outfit associate Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal was injured a car bombing outside a Las Vegas restaurant. That bombing, also unsolved, was dramatized in the 1995 Las Vegas Mafia movie “Casino.” Robert De Niro portrays a character based on Rosenthal.
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‘You Think I Ordered A Murder?”
Oscar Goodman, an attorney who appeared briefly in “Casino” and later was elected Las Vegas mayor, said he does not know who is in the barrel.
Goodman’s legal clients included Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit’s overseer in Las Vegas at the time of the barrel incident. Joe Pesci plays a Spilotro-inspired character in “Casino.” Spilotro was beaten to death in 1986.
During a recent speaking engagement at Oscar’s Steakhouse in downtown Las Vegas, Goodman discussed the Lake Mead barrel. The restaurant, located at the Plaza hotel-casino, is named for him.
“I don’t know anything about the barrel,” Goodman said. “What do you think, I ordered a murder or something? Nobody asked me whether they could put a bullet in the guy’s head who was in the barrel.”
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Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse recently told CNN an effort is underway to recover DNA from the person in the barrel. She said DNA, if extracted, would be sent to the FBI. The federal agency is assisting in the investigation.
Authorities have said it could be months before the barrel victim’s identity is known, if ever. In Las Vegas, Fox5 recently reported that authorities have contacted the family of a man named Bobby Shaw for DNA samples. His family said he went missing in about 1977.
Lt. Jason Johansson of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told CNN the killing happened so long ago that anyone involved might not be around anymore.
“If you think about what the age of who your witnesses or anybody related to this case would be, many of them are getting older every day,” Johansson said. “And they’re at an age where you have to worry, are they even alive?”
Some in Las Vegas believe more human remains could be discovered at Lake Mead. The reservoir, which provides water to Southern Nevada, was created with the construction of Hoover Dam in the 1930s but is shrinking under a severe regional drought.
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