Bugsy Siegel's 1947 Murder: Has It Finally Been Solved?
10/02/2014 AT 12:25 PM EDT
According to an article in October's Los Angeles Magazine, the killer behind the grisly 1947 murder of the feared gangster, who was instrumental in the creation of the Las Vegas Strip, wasn't a mobster hit man.
Rather, the man who reportedly pulled the trigger on Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel – famously played by Warren Beatty in the 1991 film Bugsy – was a Slavic truck driver and crane operator named Mathew "Moose" Pandza, who was the lover of the wife of Siegel's best friend and mob partner Moe Sedway.
"It's a love story," explained Sedway's son Robbie, who, shortly before his death from throat cancer in July, decided to finally reveal the secret his family had kept hidden since Siegel's death.
For over six decades it was believed mob boss Meyer Lansky had Siegel killed after he blew through more than six times his $1 million budget while constructing one of Las Vegas's first resorts – the Flamingo.
The new article is based on interviews with the Sedway family and footage from a two-hour interview that Robbie's mother Bee gave to documentary filmmakers in 1993, several years before her death. Pandza and Bee were having an open affair when word leaked out that the hot-tempered Siegel wanted Sedway killed.
"I'll have Moe shot, chop up his body and feed it to the Flamingo Hotel's garbage disposal," he reportedly announced.
When Bee learned of the rumored hit planned on her husband, she told him that her lover Pandza could help protect him from Siegel.
Though Pandza and Sedway were both in love with Bee, the two became close friends, and Sedway turned to him when he reluctantly decided Siegel needed to be eliminated.
"Moose, he's got to be gotten rid of," Moe allegedly told his wife's lover, who by then had become his devoted sidekick. Pandza, an avid hunter, was happy to help and soon obtained a .30-caliber military M1 carbine from a buddy who had returned from the war and started brushing up on his marksmanship in the desert outside Los Angeles.
Weeks later, on the evening of June 20, 1947, Pandza quietly walked up the driveway of Siegel's girlfriend's Beverly Hills' home. Siegel was inside on a couch, reading the newspaper. Pandza fired nine rounds through a side window, hitting the feared mobster's head and torso, killing him instantly.
Siegel's unsolved murder soon became Beverly Hills most famous cold case. Does this mean the 67-year-old mystery is finally solved? When asked for comment, Beverly Hills Police Department spokesman Sgt. Max Lubin told PEOPLE he hadn't yet reviewed the article.
"We're not releasing any information about [Pandza's alleged role in Siegel's death] because it's still an open case," Lubin said. "It's never been closed."