Hi, guys, I'm Katie Lowes, actress, mom and host of the parenting podcast. Chrin, a show that helps women navigate the colossal changes that come with motherhood. You'll hear from resilient mammas knowledgeable experts and me asking a whole lot of questions. It's real talk that offers real perspective on what it's really like to be a parent. New episodes publish every other Thursday. Listen to Katie's crib on I heart radio app or on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
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If you've never been to Arizona, much of it is, as you might expect, vast stretches of scrubby, empty desert. I'm a fan of greenery, so I've never thought of the Southwest as a place for me. But to watch storm clouds gather on the horizon or a glowing desert sun sink into darkness is sublime to see oranges and purples light up the sky, mountains backlit twilight to feel a dry breeze.
It's an odd, inspiring place. I had only been to Arizona once before, to Tucson actually years ago when I did a semester of grad school.
I flew in to profile a militia leader who hunted down undocumented immigrants with thermal cameras and a pack of German shepherds. Now, back in Tucson, I had a much different mission.
After a trip to Phoenix, I had only a few days left to track down sources. As I investigated Jerry Paisleys claim that the missing congressman, Nick Baggage and Hale Boggs were assassinated in 1972. Their plane bombed. It was here in Tucson where Peaslee wed Peggy Baggage in 1974. It was here in Tucson where he worked for two mafia families. The Bonanos and the look of Always. And it was here in Tucson where I hoped to figure out once and for all.
Did Peisley tell the truth?
From my heart media, this is missing in Alaska. The story of two congressmen who vanished in 1972 and my quest to figure out what happened to them. I'm your host, John Waldeck. This episode, we're going to focus on two photos. It sounds simple, right? Just two photos. But these photos, the red dot photos are at the center of the web. We'll explore extensively. These are the wedding photos that investigators secretly obtained and marked up with stickers, red dots with black numbers.
Paisley is red dot number six. Peggy is red dot number seven. Standing next to them are mobsters and ex cop, a judge and others. I got the photos, the originals from Tom Davis, who worked for the Arizona Department of Public Safety while working undercover in Tucson in 1974. Davis secretly observed Peggy Paisley's wedding in Phoenix. Davis and I spoke for more than five hours after I left.
We stayed in touch. Hey, Tom, how are you?
Davis again is also one of the three investigators who conducted the pivotal Peisley interview at the Pima County jail in 1994 when Peisley first disclosed the alleged bombing of the congressman's plane.
So I saw your text. You tell me what the text said and just how you found it out. Which way you going? Ash Lodge.
The Eldorado Lodge is where the wedding took place. Turns out it no longer exists. Well, the buildings are still there. But today, they're home to the Mountain Oyster Club, a private club. I drove there with Paul Decken, our supervising producer.
The outside hasn't changed. Still, stone deep inside, however, has been renovated. It's Western and ornate. A lot of wood, no more 70s decor. We sat down with Pauline Loftis, the manager.
Could I show you two photos and see if any of it seems familiar?
So these are photos from a wedding ceremony and a reception that took place in 1974 on this property when it was the Eldorado.
Let me think about it for a little bit. I mean, most of the doorways in the clever of big archways and this one's kind of just a small regular doorway could almost be in the room that we're sitting in or either that or in the lobby. There's a picture behind them. Is that a picture?
It looks like a picture here. So is it a mirror? It's hard to tell. It might be gumshoe detectives. Now, the three of us wandered through the club comparing certain features, doorways, etc. to what exists today. Where were the red dot photos taken?
Where was the bar where investigator Tom Davis sat undercover?
There is a bar. You were saying you think you know where the bar was. Can you take a seat?
So we're going to go around this window. I don't see this wall was here. I think that staircase was open to upstairs because there were rooms up there. And so you would have come down the stairs. There was a bar in here. And then that doorway there. And window. Yeah, the wall.
We thought we found some of the spots in the photos, but it was hard to tell. So much had changed.
We don't have original plans of the building. We don't know half the time. We don't know what's in the walls. So it's like you go there and we have a lot of surprises. Bodies so far?
No, no. In fact, we had a pretty major kitchen remodel last summer and I kept occurring to me. I think I hope we don't find any bodies when they date that.
In the Peggy Paisley wedding, photos taken at the Eldorado red dot, number three is Pete Look of only Junior, the son of my boss, Pete Horse face like of always, Senior Pete Junior was Paisleys friend. He and his wife Kathy even accompanied Paisley and Peggy on their honeymoon in Mexico. For months, I tried to reach Pete Junior, who still lived in Tucson to no avail. Now, as we left the Mountain Oyster Club, I pulled up another list of possible numbers and dialed away.
I checked the number.
So apparently the rule of thumb is if you are an old mobster, you do not have a working phone number. None of them have working phone numbers. They're all dead. They all sound like crazy modem sound at the end. All I want to do is call some mobsters.
I kept striking out a number that does not accept solicitations. If you are a solicitor, do not call list and hang up now. Otherwise, please press one or stay on the line. I'm going to press one. Thank you. Vetoed. OK. I'm sorry this mailbox has not yet been set up by the subscriber. Please try again later. Goodbye.
She's here trying to block me as a solicitor. I can't leave a voicemail. Somebody doesn't want to be found. Yes, we're just gonna have to go to his house then. So that's what we did. We went to Pete Liq Valley Junior's house. At first we circled the block. Then we pulled up. I hopped out of the car and rang the bell. Nothing. I knocked. Nothing. We drove to his brother Mike's house nearby. Mike, look, a volley isn't in any of the wedding photos.
The red dot photos. I think I say I think because there are few unidentified men. Maybe he is one of the red dots. I don't know. Like Pete Junior. Mike had been friends with Paisley when I walked up to Mike's door. I heard a muffled TV. I rang the bell. A dog barked. Someone told it to shut up. I waited. No one came to the door. The TV cut off.
I knocked nothing.
I wondered if the look of always had been tipped off that we were in town. I know that sounds paranoid, but hear me out. The day before I had spoken by phone with Louis Marconi, an ex cop who back in the day was friends with both Paisley and the look of only kids in the wedding photos.
Marcone is red dot number five.
When we spoke, I played dumb testing Marcone because I already knew the answer. I asked whether or not he attended Peggy in Paisley's wedding. He said no. I told him I had a photo of him at the wedding. He said basically, OK, prove it. Send me the photo.
So I cropped out everyone but him and emailed it to him. He was like, Yeah, that might be me. I'm not sure. I asked if he didn't recognize himself. Maybe it was him. He said maybe it wasn't. That was a long time ago. Yeah, OK. But you don't recognize yourself.
I asked him if he still spoke with the look of old kids. He said no. Remember, this was the day before Paul and I went to the look of always homes. This is why I wondered if someone had tipped them off. I wondered if Marcone had tipped them off.
After we left, Mike, like I've always house the house where someone was clearly home, but nobody came to the door. I called Marcone again. I asked again whether or not he was still in touch with the look of Olie kids the day before. He said no. Today he said yes. I asked if he had alerted them that we were in town digging. He got flustered and hung up on me. Frustrated, I turn my attention to Sal Spinelli.
Red dot number four, Spinelli, a mobster, was Paisleys close friend, his business partner and the best man at his wedding, the Peggie Baggage. He was so close to Peisley, in fact, that even his father attended the wedding. Spinellis senior is red dot number eight at the time. I wasn't sure whether or not Simonelli Junior was even alive. I'm good at finding people. But he was a ghost for months. I called and called and e-mailed and emailed and mailed letters to addresses all over the place.
Now, in a last ditch effort, Paul and I drove around knocking on doors. The first was a bust, an empty house. The second was an apartment on the edge of town.
So I just went looking for this apartment that we thought Sal Spinelli might be in. And I knocked on the door, had to walk through this apartment complex and as this kind of dingy, dark little corridor. So I was hoping I catch it.
But I knocked on the door and I could hear it. A woman and then another woman. And then I could hear them talking about me, just like, who is this guy like? Don't answer it. To answer it. Like, he might ask about Graham or Grant. And I don't like hiding some old lady here. I don't know. It was weird. And then I started walking away and I circled around the building because I said I was I was looking for Sal.
And then they were completely quiet. And I stood there for like a minute. And I walked around the building, started to leave. And this guy pulled up in a car and asked me, like, hey, are you banging on the door looking for Sal? And I said, yes. And he said, no, I don't know, no fucking Sal. So don't gonna do that again. Bang on the door again. So this is Sal possible address number two.
The first one was for sale and nobody was living there. So on with Sal spelunking, hunting, police on uses audio.
We checked more addresses, but none worked. Turns out Spinellis dead. So, too, is Toby La Vetter, Red Dot, number twelve. The judge who presided over Peggy and Paisleys Wedding. Interestingly enough, Levator also presided over Sal Spinellis 1968 extortion trial. Go figure. As afternoon melted into evening. Paul and I decided to make one final stop at the home of Al Ghannam Red Dog. No one except that failed to Ghannam lived in a gated community and we couldn't get in.
By the way, poor Paul, that day was his birthday and he was stuck driving me around Tucson looking for old mobsters. So we went back to our hotel and and then we kept working into the night. But work is a stretch. Paul is something of a foodie. So I told him to just pick a place wherever he wanted and we'd go there for dinner.
Turns out he was cool with a desert tiki bar. Specifically the Kon-Tiki, so dinner doubled as work.
The Kon-Tiki, what a place. It's a tiki bar in Tucson. One of the oldest surviving tiki bars in the nation. This is the place where, according to Jerry Paisley, Peggy Baggage allegedly dined with Joe Bonnano in the summer of 1972 before Knick baggage, her husband disappeared. The inside can best be described as dark and tropical. Paul and I sat down. We ordered a few drinks for hours. The only music that played was the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
At first we didn't tell our server Calyon who we were or why we were there. When we did tell her she was, to say the least, surprised. So we are standing outside the Kon-Tiki. Can you tell me your name, Caylee? And how long have you worked here?
I think about five months over.
And what do you know about this place? How old is it? Well, it was either 62 or 63 that it first got to establish. It started as a fine dining state restaurant.
From what I've heard people say that the interior has barely changed.
Besides the point that they got rid of red carpet finally this past year and we've had like birds and lizards outside on what is our patio now.
Have you ever seen any mobsters in here? I have not seen any mobster. Do you know who Jobin Onno is? I have no idea who that is. So Banana was the guy who ever seen The Godfather? Yes. Okay. Banana was the guy who inspired Don Corleone in The Godfather. And he was he was in New York and he retired, quote, retired to Tucson. And he actually lives here for a very long time and died. And there's an allegation from someone who was associated with him that in the summer of 1972, that Jovan Arnow met with the wife of a congressman at the Kon-Tiki.
But hearing this and just standing outside the Kon-Tiki and we've all been told, tells her, hey, we got Caylee and Caylee. John Paul, the three of us have all been in there for, what, two, three hours? You probably didn't any longer. What is what do you think that.
I mean, I just couldn't imagine not having any in the place that it is now. And considering that it's like a tiki bar, people come here from all over the United States just to kind of collect our mugs and do other things like that in our Scorpion Bowl is what we're known for, which is just has a lot of booze.
So it's kind of crazy to think at one point something like that could have happened because this just seems like our free loving place by. I mean, I could believe it if it really was the luxurious steakhouse that everyone made it out to be beforehand, because, of course, violent mobsters go there. Right.
From what we know from movies, that's just a way that I cannot fully wrap my mind around it.
From how the Kon-Tiki is now, the Kon-Tiki is an FBI documents. I couldn't see that. I mean, we just have a lot of fun people that come in. It's such a diverse crowd. But tell me, could you describe the Kon-Tiki to me? Oh, my goodness.
Well, you can definitely tell that it has some history to it. I mean, just with the decorations and everything, we've had, like a lot of them are original pieces that are in there. I mean, it's just a fun place. It's so when you drive up to the Kon-Tiki, you're thinking, what is this? Because the building's on the side. Some of them Marfil like some other store fronts and all that. And you just walk inside and it's like you're in your own little oasis and you're like, there's no way that in the middle of Tucson, Arizona, could be this place.
And I mean, people just come by and have a good time escape. It's an island escape.
And to hear the allegation that allegedly an assassination plot was hatched partially at the Kon-Tiki and that it's in FBI documents. I mean, the Tiki's supposed to be a happy place.
Either my manager, he's like, it's it's a tiki day. It's his a day in paradise. So I couldn't imagine that an assassination was planned. And the teacher.
I know, I know it sounds absurd, but guess what, the Kon-Tiki was controlled by the mob, at least in part a few months after our Arizona trip. I traveled with another one of our producers, Chris Brown. No, not that Chris Brown to Columbia, Missouri, where we spent a day digging through archives records at the State Historical Society of Missouri.
Why Missouri? Well, we had been granted special access to a trove of valuable records. These records were compiled in the 70s by journalists working on the Arizona Project. The project launched in the aftermath of the assassination of reporter Don Bolles, who was killed in Phoenix by a car bomb. Amazingly, Indie's records which document widespread crime and corruption. Chris and I kept finding names. We recognized the Bonanos, the look of Alwis, Jerry Paisley, Pegi Baggage, Danny Zevin, which sells Binelli, Louis Marcone, Joe Ayatollah and the Kon-Tiki.
Yes, even our beloved Kon-Tiki. I found the Kon-Tiki described three times as a mob owned business, specifically that Pete Liquor Vollies senior owned it at the time, at least in part. Again, the Kon-Tiki was the place where, according to Paisley, Pegi Baggage allegedly met with Jobin Onno in the records. I also found a memo dated December 16th, 1976, written by Alex Dressler, the reporter who secretly observed Peggy and Paisleys wedding. The subject, Bill Bonnano, Joe Bonanos son, quote, DSF 40 is a confidential law enforcement source in Anchorage, Alaska.
He told me that one of his confidential informants, a woman, was on a huge Airways flight December 4th, 1976, from Phoenix to San Jose. Onboard the plane. Sitting next to her was a man who identified himself as Bill Bonnano when she told him she was from Anchorage. He stated that he had a bar in Anchorage because of Sal Spinelli and Jerry Paisleys involvement with a bar in Anchorage and the fact that they had been close to Bill Bonnano in the past.
It is conceivable that Bonnano meant that this was his bar and quote, If this source was accurate and if Bill Bonnano was referring to Paisleys Bar, then he was, in fact, referring to the Alaska mining company, the bar co owned by Peisley, Peggy Baggett and Danny Zevin. It as his bar, a banana bar. Another Dressler memo citing a different law enforcement source said, quote, The word is that Peter, like of all, junior to twenty nine year old son of Detroit Mafia boss Peter Look of always senior with Jarome Max Peisley and Salvador Spinelli are in the process of setting up their own group.
This alliance would consist of younger members of the liquor of and banana families and what is help to control gambling, narcotics, trade and prostitution organized in western United States and Alaska. Information has it that Liquor Volly would head up this new organization with Peisley and Spinelli, who both hold allegiances to Joseph Bonnano, who would control the lucrative Alaska market. It appears that younger members of different organized crime families, namely the LICA volume Bonnano families, are forming to control the operations in the Western states, including Alaska.
This new venture apparently has the sanction of the old Dorn's Joseph Bonnano senior and Peter Look of always senior, end quote. And there was much, much more. In December nineteen seventy two, according to one document, mob boss Joe Bonnano met at a Tucson hotel with two men, including Joe Ayata Rola or Joey. The Eye Ayatollah again was the man Peisley claim dined with him. Peggy Baggage and Joe Bonnano at the Kon-Tiki in the summer of 1972, the man who allegedly gave Peisley the locked suitcase with a bomb that he flew to Alaska.
The bomb that allegedly killed the missing congressmen. Another memo states that in 1975, Jerry Paisley s Spinelli and Nick Begich Junior attended a banana wedding in Tucson. Though it doesn't specify which wedding, quote, we are interested in these people because of information that they are involved in running prostitutes, narcotics and stolen goods from Arizona to Alaska. With Peter Lica Volley junior in charge of the criminal group and quote, Back in the 70s, Pete Lucasville, a junior, denied these allegations.
I tried several times to reach him for comment, but he didn't respond. Nick Becket's junior declined an interview request in March 1975, and this was during Paisleys marriage to Peggy Baggage. An informant saw Peisley with Bill Bonnano and Sal Spinelli. Quote, Peisley and Spinelli are involved in the following activities in Anchorage cocaine, speed, prostitution, gambling and stolen turquoise jewelry and quote quote, Stolen turquoise jewelry is being run from Arizona through the Nick Bagis jewelry store in Anchorage.
End quote. Also in the archives. And yes, I know you're probably sick of me using that phrase. I found a copy of Jerry Paisley and Peggy Baggages divorce settlement. Peisley and Peggy filed for divorce on March 8th. Seventy six reconciled. Filed again for divorce on September 30th, 1976. And finally were granted to divorce on November 16th, 1976. As part of the divorce settlement, Peggy kept several pieces of land in both Arizona and Alaska. Paisley renounced his interests in the Nick Baggages junior jewelry store.
Peggy kept a 1976 Buick wagon, a 76 Oldsmobile, a 74 Jaguar and a 73 Dotson quote. Jerry gets the seventy five caddy, end quote. The settlement also details how Peggy Paisley and Danis Evan split up ownership of Max Ank their business, the one behind the Alaska mining company. I could go on and on and on, but I have to get to explosives in the red dot photos. The Paisley, Peggie, wedding photos. There are three unnamed men now via these records.
I was finally able to identify one of them as Robert Thomas Smith or Bobby Smith. Paisley and Smith were business partners. They started a company called the Paisley Smith Construction Company. And guess what?
In 1968, Smith was indicted on extortion charges after allegedly bombing a Tucson nightclub. Another man, Victor Vincent Livingston, was indicted alongside Smith, according to a memo I found. Livingston was, quote, an explosives expert who once worked for the Apache Powder Company. Smith reportedly is a driver for Livingston when they're on a job, end quote. So here we have a man and Peggy and Paisleys wedding photo. One of the red dots who is a driver for an indicted alongside an explosives expert who allegedly bombed a Tucson nightclub in 1968.
But wait, there's more. A memo dated January 29, 1977, states that Sal Spinelli, Paisleys, close friend and the best man at his wedding to Peggie Baggage had, quote, ties to a Robert Lloyd Lusk, who was present when Charles O. Louderback was arrested in Alaska for possession of one pound of heroin, a half pound of coke. Twenty one firearms, live mortar rounds and thousands of rounds of ammunition and quote.
So Spinelli was one degree of separation from a guy arrested in Alaska for possession of drugs, guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition and live mortar rounds. There's still more, though. There's still suitcase, Charlie. Yes. Suitcase, Charlie. Journalists working on the Arizona Project received multiple reports that Suitcase Charlie, whose real name was Charles Cochran, was the man who allegedly rigged the bomb that killed investigative reporter Don Bolles. A source said, quote, Charles Suitcase, Cochran should be questioned about his electronics knowledge in relation to the Bowles case.
So in 1976, only four years after Gerry Paisley allegedly transported a mafia bomb from Arizona to Alaska, a bomb he claimed was put on the missing congressman's plane.
We have a guy named Suitcase Charlie, who also allegedly worked for the mob, had electronic knowledge and was good at rigging bombs pinpointed as the person who allegedly built the remote controlled bomb that blew up. Reporter Don Bolles. None of this proves anything. It's just odd. It shows that there was at least one mob connected explosives expert in Arizona in the 70s able to build a high tech bomb. And another twist, remember? And it's OK if you don't.
I get it. This is a lot of information. A man named Victor Livingston Livingston was the explosives expert tied to Bobby Smith. Smith attended Paisley and Peggy's wedding. Livingston was indicted in 1968 for allegedly bombing a Tucson nightclub. And Livingston once worked for the Apache Powder Company. Well, here's the twist. In 1984, the Arizona Republic ran a series of articles detailing how terrorists responsible for more than 30 bombings in the Philippines around 1980 were trained in the desert near Tucson and wait for it.
The terrorists use explosives purchased from the Apache Powder Company. Yes, these terrorists in the Philippines were trained in the desert near Tucson by a man who bought explosives in 1979 and 1980 from the Apache Powder Company. The same Apache powder company for which Victor Levingston, the explosives expert with ties to Bobby Smith, worked the same Bobby Smith, who attended Paisley and Peggies wedding and started a construction business with Paisley. According to the Republic, a smuggler involved in a terrorist ring was arrested at the Manila airport after, quote, one of his suitcases was found to contain bomb components, including fifteen sticks of dynamite wrapped in brown wax paper marked Šamaš Gel.
Number one Apache powder company, Benson, Arizona, October 19th, 1973. So around 1980, terrorists in the Philippines used dynamite with a stamped on day. Only one year after Nick Baggage disappeared, dynamite procured from a company, the Apache Powder Company, for which Victor Levingston worked as an explosives. The same Victor Levingston, whose driver was Bobby Smith, the same Bobby Smith who attended the wedding of Peggy Baggage and Jerry Paisley and started a construction company with Paisley.
This is a lot of information, I know. So to recap, the Arizona project records document close ties between Jerry Paisley and the Banana and look of Olie families. They show that Joe Bonnano and Joe Ayatollah are Joey the eye were spotted together two months after the congressman disappeared, only a few months after Bonnano and Ayata Rola allegedly met with Peggie baggage. They show that Paisley was one degree of separation away from an explosives expert who procured dynamite from a company whose dynamite was later used in more than 30 terrorist attacks in the Philippines.
They show that Sal Spinelli, Paisleys close friend and best man, was one degree of separation from a man arrested in Alaska with live mortar rounds. They show the possibility that the Bonanos had some stake in the Alaska mining company. The bar run by Peggy Baggage, Jerry Peisley and Danny Zevin Edge. These records show so many things now. Do they prove that the missing congressman's plane was bombed? Absolutely not.
But in my opinion, it becomes harder and harder to write off Jerry Paisleys allegations. When you're looking at an avalanche of documents prepared not by me, but by a team of 40 investigative reporters back in the 70s, documents that backup parts of Paisleys story. Hi, guys, I'm Katie Lowes, actress, mom and host of the parenting podcast. Katie's Crib, a show that helps women navigate the big shifts which motherhood can bring. This season, you'll hear from resilient moms like actress Gabrielle Union.
Thought leaders like author of the New York Times best seller Untamed Glenn and Doyle. And experts like prenatal and postpartum clinical psychologist Dr. Alissa Berlin. We get candid about our experiences and share resources for everything parenting, endometriosis, surrogacy, divorce and blended families emotionally preparing for postpartum.
Katie's crib is covering it all for a dose of comfort and community with those who understand the struggles and the joys of raising tiny humans. Subscribe now four brand new episodes. Every other Thursday, listen to Katie's crib on I heart radio app or an Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
I'm Alex Aono and I have a new podcast. Let's get into it is all about tackling the stuff that you and I both want to know more about. How do you turn a friendship into a full on relationship? What if you're terrified of going broke? You're seeing someone new. But is it love or lust?
And how can you actually use humor to heal from grief?
Each week I'll be joined by a friend, a comedian and actor and influencer, and a WisdomTree who's an expert in their field to provide a professional opinion.
And we discuss everything you want to know about money, love your relationships, even fitness and mental health. You might know me from my social media platforms, my original music, or even my brand new Netflix film, Finding Ohana. But there is so much more I love to explore with my comedy. And we're going to cover it all from first times and how to help friends in low places. The connection between fitness and body positivity. How to define a relationship when you're talking to someone new.
You might even learn how to become your own superhero. I love having deep conversations with all of my friends. And now it's time for you to join in. Listen to Alex Iona.
Let's get into it on the I Heart radio app. Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcast. Launching July seven. The golden interview, the interview I wanted more than any other was one with Jerry Peisley himself. Unfortunately, Peisley died in prison of liver cancer in September 2010, a year before I started researching this. So I never had a chance to speak with him. However, in 2014, I found something interesting, an old blog written by an anonymous Arizona prisoner who used a pseudonym and mailed out dispatches that someone else posted online.
The name of the blog Jons Jail Journal on it. The author wrote frequently about his friend to Tony's, a fellow prisoner he described as a mafia mass murderer who left the corpses of rival gangsters from Tucson to Alaska to Tony's was, quote, a Detroit Eiris Italian whose wit could upstage Rodney Dangerfield. I was highly suspicious by this point that two Tonys was in fact Jerry Peisley. The blogger quoted two Tonys as saying, quote, I sent a few motherfuckers to the other side.
But if they were alive today, they'd probably be trailer park trash eaten out a chef boiardi cans. So I did him a favor. He described two Tonys as a fan of the author, Tom Wolfe, and as someone critical of mass market fiction. Stephen King, for one. According to two Tonys was, quote, running a fucking McDonald's franchise. He's pumping out books like he's making quarter pounders. Two Tonys was also critical of pop music. His words, not mine, quote, Don't give me no country in Western with some hillbilly whining about how some Graney got drunk and ran over him in a pickup truck.
Don't give me no rap with egotistical ghetto stars singing about their bitches. Big booties. How much jewelry and money and dope they've got and how they're driving around in Benz's with bottles of Cristal all in one hand and a crack pipe and other gimmee. Handel's Messiah. Strauss's Thunder and Lightning. Anyone who doesn't like that is a fucking animal. Sacrilegious. Nito was right. Life needs music too. Tony said that when he committed murder. He felt a satiating rush.
Quote, It's not easy going into a heavily armed hotel room at 2:00 in the morning and blowing a guy's face off. But it gives you a feeling of living on the edge. So to Tony's seemed to be Jerry Paisley, but I wasn't 100 percent sure. Thankfully, the anonymous blogger eventually revealed his real name, Sean Atwood, a young British man imprisoned in Arizona for trafficking ecstasy. Atwood, who was deported to the UK after he got out of prison in 2007, is now a prolific author and public speaker.
We spoke by Skype.
And how long after you arrived in prison did you meet Gerry Paisley?
I met him in late 2004, I think.
So when you write about Gerry, you use the pseudonym to Tony. Did he ask you to use a pseudonym and not to use his real name? Yes.
Is it uncomfortable for you that I know to Tonys is what is slightly uncomfortable is that he asked me not to bring any hate on his ex of the family, so he asked that everything regarding the descriptions be substantially changed.
When you say his acts, you mean one of his wives? Yes. His first wife for a second paisleys.
Second wife was Peggie Baggage. What did he tell you about Peggy? I mean, did what did he. His marriage to her. How did he describe that?
He said it was one of the happiest periods of his life, but he fucked it up. Did he say why he fucked it up or what?
What led to it? Yeah. Because of that addiction to the lifestyle and because he had got cocaine, which exacerbates it. His dark side.
But did you did you sense any animosity on his part toward Peggy? No, I felt felt more the other way around that he felt that he had been in a good situation and that he'd brought a lot of troublesome problems and trouble and risk.
Atwood stood out in prison. His nickname was England. He was an intellectual who read more than a thousand books in less than six years. Peaslee took a liking to him.
Can you describe Jerry to me? What was he like as a person? Was personality like? What did he look like, like when you first met him? Can you describe that? Very confident.
Very charismatic. He'd already served a considerable time in prison, so he was an older guy. But like Uncle Junior character out of The Sopranos. And if you ever watch a movie like Goodfellas or Casino. It was like it just walked off that movie set, the way he spoke, his mannerisms, just like a character of Goodfellas Casino.
Eventually, Paisley asked Atwood to write his biography on the condition that he continue to mask paisleys identity even after Paisley died. Paisley told Atwood that he wanted to protect his family. And I think this is very important because if Paisley was a full blown sociopath who just craved media and attention and notoriety and fame, why would he care whether or not he was named in his own biography? After he died in 2018, Atwood published Paisleys biography, The Life Story of two Tonys in a book called The Mafia Philosopher in parts of the book.
Atwood used composite characters and situations, so I'm not going to quote from it directly. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of Paisleys claim that the missing congressmen were assassinated.
Were you aware that he made these claims in ninety four, ninety five, that he told investigators that he transported explosives to Alaska and that he played a part in at least in terms of transporting a bomb in the plane going down?
No, it was no. He never did discuss that with your. Now, Paisley could have discussed these claims with Atwood and asked him to keep them quiet. But paisleys dead. So we only have Atwood's word here. And I believe him. Atwood and I discussed the issue of truth again. Who do we as a society choose to believe? Who do we instantly write off? This might sound purely philosophical, but it's not. It's very practical because if the FBI wrote off Jerry Paisleys claims in nineteen ninety four ninety five solely because of his past, because he was a criminal, that matters.
It means that he could have told them almost anything. And the bureau would have said, man, this guy's a criminal. Can't believe any of his claims. Onward. Maybe the FBI sincerely thought Paisley was lying. Maybe they just didn't want to get involved. Maybe someone told them to drop the case. I don't know. But in my opinion, if someone like Gerry Paisley makes serious, substantial claims, those claims deserve to be investigated. And other claims Paisley made were, in fact, investigated just by members of local and state law enforcement, not the FBI.
Remember, Paisley was convicted of a second murder because he told Arizona investigator Tom Davis that he shot someone to death in a motel. And Davis actually followed up and did his job. Unlike the FBI. And if you still say, well, bullshit, John, let me ask you this. If your spouse or mine disappeared and shortly thereafter you married a violent mob connected person who later claimed they played a part in the disappearance of your first spouse. Do you think investigators would take those claims seriously?
Because I do. None of this is to say that I fully believe Gerry Paisley. It's to say again that his claims should have been investigated properly by the FBI. How else do you answer the question of whether or not he was telling the truth?
I think that people on the outside looked at Gerry and what he said. And even today, people look at him and say, well, that was a violent guy. I don't believe anything he said. You know, at the same time, like, I sit there looking at politicians every day who lie. And it really seems in part to be kind of just a judgment call, like a partially a class issue.
You know, I mean, everybody lies. And I guess the question is, should should we believe anything that Gerry said?
Should we believe anything that anyone says? I believe in critical thinking. And I'm just the reporter. So I was just the means by which Gerry could tell his story. And it's up to the reader. To make that decision, what they believe and what they don't believe. I can't judge him. I mean, he saved my life in prison over a situation. He definitely had a heart. And I saw the human side of him when we said goodbye.
You know, he was there was tears in his eyes when we said goodbye at the fence. It told me that I was like the sun that it never had. So people commit extremely violent acts, but they're still human beings. You can't write em off just because they say everything they said is lies because it was a violent person. Everybody's got that in them. That's one thing you told me.
I asked Atwood what else Paisleys shared with him about Peggie baggage.
Were you aware that her former husband was a congressman? He told you that, yeah. What did he say about that? He was very excitable about it, but he never, like, revealed his bigger picture that you're telling me. When you say excitable, what do you mean by excitable?
There was a look in his eyes if there was more or. And it was a big deal. Boy, he never expanded on it. If let's say that Jerry was telling the truth, that there was some kind of foul play involved. Why do you think he would have not told you? OK.
I. I can't. I don't know whether he was involved or not, but my best guess on why he wouldn't have told me was because he was trying to steer away anything that could hurt.
Peggy, did he express regret about how he treated Peggy and treated the kids? Yes. What did he say? They said that cocaine and scrambled his decision making processes. And he had this you know, he was living in this huge house. He was loving being a dad to the kids. And his own kids would come out from Arizona. And it wasn't all hunky dory. And then he just started slippin. And through his old ways. But.
Even worse, because he started murdering people. And he just let the family down and brought a lot of risk. And danger to the lives. Did he ever discuss taking part in any bombings? For the Bonanos like I might have seen. He did. Yeah, he bombed. The wig salon he bombed. It's in the book I cut. I can't specifically remember off the top of my head right now, but he dynamited a few places for the Bonanos was one to a judge's house, a judge named EBITDA.
Yes, that's it. Yeah, I 100 percent believe he did that. Why?
He just. Was really proud of it. And that didn't seem to be any ambiguity when he was telling me that you don't want to. Then one things and it details changed. It just told it me straight.
So you understand why all of this is so fascinating to me. You have a guy. I'm not I'm not judging, you know, Jerry, I never met him. But you have a guy who was a multiple murderer, a bomber ties to the Bonanos. And the look of all these marries the widow of a missing congressman, 16 and a half months after her husband disappears, later tells investigators that he transported the explosives to Alaska and that somebody else, another man who they later went into business with, told him that he put a bomb on the plane and that he was given equity in the business because of his role in the alleged assassination.
You understand why this is so absolutely fascinating. Yeah, I do.
I really do. You know, I write books with conspiracies. I wrote a book about Barry Saley. They said. A cocaine flying pilot and all this stuff. It's fascinating to me as well. And it's just a shame that, you know, he didn't reveal any of that to me. It's interesting because I I would have thought that if he would tell anybody, he would tell you. And as far as I can tell. Other than discussing it in nineteen ninety four.
Ninety five, he never shared the story with anybody ever again.
So he didn't even tell me that he had discussed it with the investigators, which indicates to me that. There was a lot more to that story that you didn't tell me that he wouldn't tell me even that. Then what else did he know? Hi, I'm Devon Leary. And I'm Carolina Barlow, and we're here to tell you to dump him. Break up with your boyfriend. And we have somehow scam that I heart radio network into giving us our own podcast to talk about our love lives on True Romance.
We'll be discussing such romantic misadventures as when Devon threatened to slash someone's tires because they wouldn't hook up with her or when Carolina peed the bed on Valentine's Day fall. You know, just cute romantic stories like that. So, yeah. If you need help with your love life, you know where to go. We'll be giving expert advice every week on the I Hurt radio app, Apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Back in Tucson, Paul and I worked hard as the hours ticked down toward our flight out of town in terms of interviews. Arizona was mostly a wash. We got Tom Davis and Steve Fowler. And that's about it. Most of the red dots were dead. The rest we either couldn't reach or they went to talk to us. So we decided to use our remaining time to visit places tied to this story. We visited the Sahara Motel where Peisley murdered a man.
Now it's an apartment complex. We visited a plane graveyard, but that was just for fun. And at the very end, we visited the Spanish Trail Motel.
It's been a long trip in Arizona. Paul and I have been here a few days and we have had people back out of interviews. We've been calling numbers left and right. Old mobsters apparently don't like phones or email. Don't don't really like to be contacted. So, yeah. Paul and I are standing at this Spanish trail motel in Tucson. The sun is almost completely behind the mountains. It's getting dark. It's breezy. The sky is pink and purple and blue.
And you can see palm trees. And we're on the periphery of this beautiful old motel that's now completely decayed. There's rust and broken glass and needles and an old shopping cart. And it's very much the epitome of what you want to photograph and explore and exploration. And one of these buildings here with a smashed out windows could have been the place that Jerry Peisley lived or the room that he said he brought. Margaret, who he later said was Peggy Baggages, who after she met allegedly with Joe Bonano.
And there's only a slight glimmer of light left here at the Spanish Trail Motel. Paul, you want to hop the fence? Sure. Okay, so we're gonna I'm gonna let Paul hop the fence first, cause he's six to our. I'll just use Paul as a ladder. I'm not going to. We didn't hop the fence. So at the end of this trip in Arizona, we're standing on the side of a rusted out motel. And honestly, there have been some surprises, but mostly it's been a frustrating trip.
We haven't been able to interview many of the people that we wanted to. Nobody's answering the damn phone. We've showed up at puter like we've always house twice today alone. So all we're doing is circling Tucson, trying to find octogenarian mobsters and no answers, man, no answers. So the sun's almost gone and hopefully somebody doesn't jump out. Bush on this creepy alley and you know, Chavez Chevon my rib. Thankfully, though, our Arizona trip wasn't a total bust.
We got two good interviews. And remember Bob Martinsen, the man who broke the news to me via text that Cokie Roberts, Hale Boggs, his daughter died. The Bob Martinsen, I told you was important and asked you to remember. Well, on September 17, 20, 19, in that very same text, the one in which Bob told me Cokie died. He also sent me something I'd been waiting on for weeks, the exact coordinates of where he found part of a Cessna.
Part of what could be the missing plane. So armed with this, a latitude and longitude, we were off to Alaska. Next time on missing in Alaska, if you were a Republican and the head of the Young Republicans club, why were you arranging a flight for two Democratic congressmen? That's my business.
I don't care who actually paid the bill. That's what they did.
But the flight was unpaid. It was a free flight if.
Before we go, an epilogue in December twenty nineteen, I got a voicemail from someone surprising, Rosalie Bonnano. Rosalie, now 83, is the daughter in law of Jobin Otto, who she calls Mr. B.. In 1956, she married his son Bill at a lavish mafia wedding. Joe. Her father in law and Bill, her husband have both died. I called Rosalie back and left her a voicemail on her jitterbug phone. And then for a while, nothing.
When I called again in April, however, she picked up, she was friendly. She even asked how I was holding up in New Orleans during the pandemic. She kindly answered my questions but didn't want to do a recorded interview. Rosalie said that she and the other banana wives were mostly kept out of the loop. They spent their time in the kitchen. I asked if I could run some names by her to see if she recognized them. And she agreed.
Unfortunately, she did recognize most of them, including Jerry Paisley, though she said she was going to check with someone who might know more and get back to me. Rosalie did, however, remember Joe Ayatollah, the banana lieutenant, Paisley claimed, gave him a locked suitcase that contained a bomb. The bomb allegedly put on the missing congressman's plane. Ayata role is also the man who allegedly dined with Paisley PEGI Baggage and Joe Bonnano at the Kon-Tiki in the summer of 1972.
Rosalie told me that Joe Ayatollah and Joe Bonnano were close. She remembers seeing Eye Rola around Bonanos house. She said the two men respected each other a lot before the call ended. I had two final questions first. Did she know of any Bonnano business dealings in Alaska? She said no, but again reiterated that she was kept out of the loop. And I asked whether or not any documentation from the 70s still exists. Receipts, checks, diaries, stuff like that.
She said that after Jovan Otto died, she sold a trove of his old checks on eBay and made a small fortune. However, she told me that since Bill Bonnano, her husband died in 2008, she still hasn't gone through his filing cabinet. She said doing so might be a good project. And she said she would contact me if she found anything interesting. This week I have two tasks for you, one specific and one vague. First, we're going to post the red dot photos online.
If you recognize any of the unidentified wedding guests, let us know. Second, this episode is packed with information. So maybe listen again, take notes and see if you can find anything we missed. If you do, let us know. You can reach us by phone at one eight three three MRA tips. That's one eight three three six four two eight four seven seven again one eight three three six four two eight four seven seven. Or you can reach us via email at tips at eye heart media dot com.
That's tips t ip s at eye heart media dot com. An important note, none of the people Jerry Peisley claimed took part in or had knowledge of the alleged bombing. Joe Bonano, Joey Motorola, Danny seven an inch, Jean Fowler, Larry Fowler or Peggy Baggage, wherever charged with or convicted of crimes tied to any of paisleys, allegations, PEGI Baggage and Danny's evidence declined multiple requests for an on the record interview. Jean Fowler was unavailable for an interview.
Joe Bonnano, Joey Motorola and Larry Fowler are dead. Louis Marcone, the ex cop who is friends with Paisley, also was never charged with or convicted of any crimes tied to any of paisleys allegations. Marcone declined multiple requests to do a recorded interview. Finally, in the 70s, Pete Look of Junior and Mike Lick of Olie vehemently denied reports that they were involved in organized crime rings. The lack of always didn't respond to multiple interview requests. Ben Bolen is our executive producer.
Paul Decken is our supervising producer. Chris Brown is our assistant producer. Seth, Nicholas Johnson is our producer. Sam Teegarden is our research assistant. And I'm your host and executive producer, Jon Walzak. You can find me on Twitter at at John Walzak. Jay and WAFL sees the ACA.
Special thanks to investigative reporters and editors or I.A and specifically executive director Doug Haddix. Thanks also to everyone at the State Historical Society of Missouri, including John Console, Kevin George and Beth Pike. And a big thank you to Pauline Loftis for showing us around the Mountain Oyster Club. Missing in Alaska is a co-production of Eye, Heart, Media and Green for Media.
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I'm Alex Aono and I have a new podcast. Let's get into it. It's all about tackling the stuff you and I want to know. Each week I'm joined by a friend and a WisdomTree, and we discuss everything you want to know about money, love your relationships, even fitness and mental health. I love having deep conversations with my friends. And now it's your turn to get in on it.
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