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National splash leads to fraudster’s capture

It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t appreciate a great mystery, which is why I am so intrigued by Boulder City’s tie to the documentary-style TV show “Unsolved Mysteries.” One of my readers, Carole Neat, recently emailed me a tip about a shyster businessman who swindled millions of dollars from investors only to be caught at a local hotel.

I personally love any type of true-crime drama regardless if it’s on television, shown at the movies or captured in a book. I closely followed the curious case of Gregory Hover. In 2010, Hover went on a crime spree, which included raping and killing a woman before setting her car on fire — with her body in it — in Boulder City. Hover received the death sentence.

Then there was Neal Falls, a serial killer who lived in Henderson but worked at Hoover Dam. His crimes, as well as his death, made news in 2015. In 2003, Perry C. Monroe made news after he dumped a dismembered body of a maid who worked at the then-Hacienda hotel-casino into the pond at Veterans’ Memorial Park. Monroe was captured and received two life sentences.

And then there is Neat’s tip regarding Steven Cox in 1988.

Cox’s story was featured not only in the Los Angeles Times, but a tip by a worker at Lake Mead Lodge led to Boulder City — and Cox — being featured on NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries.”

Cox was on the lam since 1984 after defrauding people in Oregon. His disappearance was a mystery. No one knew he was living under an alias in Idaho between 1984 and 1988, which led to Cox being featured on the show. When “Unsolved Mysteries” did air in 1988, Cox had fled Idaho and was hiding out at the lodge, which was built in the 1930s and which has since closed.

Lake Mead Lodge’s history is rich. The venue attracted celebrity visitors and headliners such as Harry Belafonte and Don Rickles. Cox might have thought the lodge was a perfect place to hide after fleeing with more than $3 million of other people’s money — people who trusted him to invest it wisely. But he probably didn’t plan on his stay at the quiet lodge to be the pivotal factor that would lead to his arrest.

“Unsolved Mysteries” had a five hosts over the span of 500 episodes, which were broadcast on four networks. There are notable celebrity connections and TV spinoffs associated with the show. One such connection was in 1991 when “Unsolved Mysteries” cast Matthew McConaughey to play a murder victim. Also, Ron Bushy of the band Iron Butterfly used the show to gain insight into the disappearance of fellow bandmate Philip Taylor Kramer. And musician Jon Bon Jovi was interviewed about the death of his manager’s daughter, Katherine Korzilius.

As far as Cox’s capture, his own behavior started to provoke questions from staff members at Lake Mead Lodge. Not leaving his hotel room or acting very touristy made lodge manager Edna Reed suspicious of him. Like many things that happen in a small town, the rumor mill started to rotate, and Reed’s suspicions led her to take note of Cox’s every move during his stay.

After personally walking his trash out one day, Reed decided to rifle through it and discovered a note Cox had discarded. The note referred to “Unsolved Mysteries” as being a “bombshell.” The authorities were notified, and he was arrested the next day in the parking lot.

Cox was sentenced to two decades in jail. But he served only three years. He was arrested again in Idaho in 2005 on grand theft and parole violation charges. He was released in 2013 and is a free man. And while Cox’s whereabouts today is not public information, “Unsolved Mysteries” implied that he was linked to another con artist by the name of Dennis Walker, who was also profiled on the show.

After being profiled, Walker was found slain in Las Vegas. Most of the sports memorabilia Walker had stolen, and was wanted for, has never been recovered. But a Babe Ruth shirt and World Series ring were found in the hotel room alongside his body. With robbery not the motive, many people believe Walker’s death was a mob hit.

For a small town, the crimes and arrests that have happened here and profiled in the national media all seem to have been ripped right out of a Hollywood script, but then again the truth is often times stranger than fiction.

Tanya Vece’s weekly Hollywood blog can be found at TanyaVeceBook.com. Tanya is the author of “The Meaning of Eclipse” and operates as an independent marketer.

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