How a Fresno Family Bombed a Nevada Casino 39 Years Ago - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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How a Fresno Family Bombed a Nevada Casino 39 Years Ago



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The helicopter thundered over the darkened forest, heading west, rising into the mountains beneath an almost full moon. Even for FBI special agent Dell Rowley, a slight five foot nine, the narrow cargo space behind the two front seats was a tight fit. The helmet and Kevlar vest he wore over his black fatigues, and the weapons he carried, did not make it any more comfortable. But the pilot was supposed to be alone, so Rowley had to stay where he was. Besides, the copilot’s seat was occupied by three canvas money bags, stuffed with cut-and-bound bundles of newsprint calculated to match the weight and volume of almost $3 million in $100 bills—and $1,000 in cash, to complete the effect.
By the ambient glow of the instrument panel, Rowley read the second letter from the extortionists whose giant bomb currently sat in the second-floor offices of Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Casino, 20 miles away, back in Stateline, Nevada. The bomb was silently counting down to an explosion that the nation’s best technicians still had no idea how to prevent. The author of the letters was given to grandiose turns of phrase and idiosyncratic language and had provided complex instructions for the ransom drop: a helicopter, a lone pilot, a flight along Highway 50 into the mountains, a signal from a strobe light, a clearing for a landing zone, the $3 million in used bills. No weapons, no one riding shotgun. The first note had concluded with an ironic flourish. “Happy landing,” it read, a subtly misaligned row of letters banged out on an electric typewriter.

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