Real Name: Roger Wheeler Sr.
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Date: May 27, 1981
Details: Roger Wheeler was the President of Telex Corporation and had purchased World Jai Alai in 1978 as a side investment. Jai Alai is a fast-paced sport that is often involved with gambling. The company World Jai Alai operated arenas in Florida and Connecticut. It was believed that some members of organized crime were involved in the gambling. Roger even received a letter, telling him to leave the organization for his own safety. However, he ignored the warning.
On May 27, 1981, Roger went to Southern Hills Country Club to play a round of golf. He did this routinely, every Wednesday. At 3:30PM, two unidentified men drove into the country club, parked seventy feet from Roger's Cadillac, and waited for him to finish his golf game. As he entered his car, one of the men came up and shot him to death. The two men then disappeared into the afternoon traffic.
By 5PM, the crime scene had been cordoned off. Witnesses said that the shooter had concealed his weapon in a towel and paper bag as he calmly walked across the parking lot. Investigators found no evidence of robbery at the scene. They soon ruled out that the murder was related to hate, jealousy, or a personal matter. They believe that Roger's murder was a contract hit, related to Jai Alai.
Four unspent bullets from the killer's gun were found near Roger's body. It is believed that they were left behind as either a signature or a warning from the killers. The FBI one promising lead form a reported underworld figure named Brian Halloran. He told them that he had turned down the hit on Wheeler. He also said that the person who ordered the hit was John Callahan, the former President of World Jailai.
However, before this information could be confirmed, Brian and John were both murdered in separate incidents. The police believe the murders are all connected and are related to Jai Alai and the mob.
Suspects: The killers were both white males. The trigger-man was forty to forty-five years old, 6'0", with a large build, graying hair, and a salt-and-pepper beard. The driver also had a graying beard. He was darkly tanned and had a salt-and-pepper hair. Their vehicle was described as a copper or cream-colored Ford LTD. The partial license plate was: S T 5 1.
Police believe that John Callahan may have hired the hitmen to commit the murder. This information came from Brian Halloran, who said that he turned down the hit. Unfortunately, both men were murdered before more information could be discovered.
Police believe a man named John Vincent Martorano may have information that could be helpful to the investigation. He is currently wanted only for sports tampering.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the original January 20, 1987 special of Unsolved Mysteries hosted by Raymond Burr.
Results: Solved. When the case was re-aired in August, a suspect named Luis Villageliu was watching the segment with a friend. He said that the police would never be able to pin the murder on him. Ironically, his "friend" turned out to be a police informant. Viagellau had previously served time for a 1975 murder. He skipped bail on drug smuggling charges and vanished. However, it is not known if he had any actual connection to the case.
John Martorano, a mob hit man, was later identified as the man who had assassinated Roger Wheeler. The driver was identified as Joe McDonald. In 1995, Martorano was arrested and turned state’s evidence. As part of the plea negotiation, he served about twelve years for more than twenty murders, including Roger's and John Callahan's. McDonald died in 1997 without being charged.
Martorano told investigators that Roger had been killed to prevent him from going to the police about links between World Jai Alai and the Winter Hill gang. In 2003, retired FBI Agent H. Paul Rico, one of the masterminds behind the Wheeler execution, was arrested for first-degree murder and died awaiting trial. James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were also charged with Roger's murder. Flemmi and Bulger were both convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
- Roger Wheeler on Wikipedia
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- Police say a paid assassin may have killed executive
- Florida Man Suspect in Wheeler Slaying
- Game Fixing Plan Cited in Death
- Probe enters ninth year - Wheeler telephone tapes may be clue
- Corruption allegations surface in 'unsolved' killing
- Prosecutors file charges in 20-year-old Tulsa killing
- Wheeler family praises Rico arrest
- Son Of Murdered Tulsa Businessman Reacts To Mobster's Arrest
- Daughter of Roger Wheeler says her father wanted to sell business before he was killed
- Throwback Tulsa: Mob-style murder at posh golf course shocked Tulsa in 1981
- Roger Wheeler at Find a Grave