It is the night of January 2, 1987 in a residential area of fashionable Santa Ana in Orange County, California.
Jimmy Casino (48) and the girlfriend Shelley Fisher (22) comes home from the cinema. In their house, two masked and armed men are waiting for them.
“Are you going to kill me? Am I going to die now?” Shelly asks in shock.
“No,” replies one of the masked men, “you’re too pretty to die.”
While one man holds Jimmy at bay by pointing a handgun at him, the other begins to rape Shelly. “We get paid to do this,” the rapist whispers in her ear along the way. After the rape, Shelly is tied up with rope.
They then ransack the house and steal credit cards, jewellery, fur coats and other valuables.
They then execute Jimmy with three shots to the head.
The perpetrators steal two of Jimmy’s cars – a Mercedes and a Camaro – and drive off. Jimmy’s Rolls Royce is left in the garage.
Shelly manages to free herself from the rope knots, and runs to the neighbor to call 911. She is taken to the hospital for examinations and securing evidence.
Started top detachable in conservative area
The police investigators initially believe that they are facing an extremely brutal robbery. But the more they dig into Jimmy’s past, the more convinced they become that he was hardly a random victim.
Jimmy Casino was a businessman who never rested, and his great love was money and success. The garage was full of beautiful cars, and he lived a luxurious life. Jimmy was even present at an Oscar ceremony.
His original name was James Stockwell, but he changed his name to emphasize his love for the gambling city of Las Vegas. He always had projects going, and among his more profitable businesses were Mustang Topless Theater – a bar where the female waitresses were, as the name suggests, topless.
The Mustang Topless Theater was controversial in conservative Orange County, and strenuous efforts were made to shut down the bar before it even opened. Despite opposition, the bar became a profitable success for Jimmy, raking in around $150,000 a month.
That meant that Mustang Topless Theater received unwanted attention from The Orange County Mafia.
The police investigators also discover that the top loose bar has illegal aspects to it, such as prostitution, the sale of illegal drugs and money laundering.
Jimmy was making good money, but still not enough to sustain the glamorous lifestyle he had adapted to. Jimmy owed a lot of money to shady men with mafia connections.
The credit card is used
Two days after the murder, the police find the two cars that the killers stole. But the cars have been washed and cleaned of fingerprints and other traces, so the investigators are none the wiser.
Three days later, a shop employee at a shopping center discovers that two men are trying to use a credit card that has been reported stolen. And it’s not just anyone’s credit card, it’s one of the cards that belonged to Jimmy that the killers took. The police move out with large forces when they are notified.
The two men sense danger ahead, and flee to their car. As the car leaves the shopping centre, the police forces arrive. This is the start of a long car chase through the streets which ends with the police managing to stop the car and the two men are arrested.
The men in the car are Joseph Orozco and Mark Corbett. Both have ties to the Orange County Mafia and are regulars at the Mustang Topless Theatre.
In questioning, Joseph and Mark say that they accidentally found the credit card in a car park. After searching their homes, the police find no evidence linking them to the night of the murder five days earlier.
Both are released due to lack of evidence.
A few months later is arrested Richard Morris in connection with another murder. Richard – who also has links to the Orange County mafia – tells in questioning that he has information about the murder of Jimmy Casino.
Richard claims that Mark Corbett – the one man caught with the credit card – had bragged that he was paid $10,000 to kill Jimmy.
But when the police seek out Mark to have another chat with him, they discover that he has left California without a trace.
The main suspect is shot
By going in depth on Jimmy’s many financial partners, the police find Bill Carrolla financier and mafia member who invested in the Mustang Topless Theater.
Jimmy owed Bill a lot of money – at least $200,000. The investigators begin to believe that Bill may have killed Jimmy because of the debt, and he therefore moves to the top of the list of suspects.
On 30 April 1987, the case takes an unexpected turn: A person is found shot dead in a car park. It’s Bill Carroll. He has been shot three times in the back of the head.
Witnesses say they saw Bill sitting in a parked car with two other men. Then three shots rang out, Bill was pushed out, and the car drove off at full speed.
Amazingly, Bill survives, but he loses his sight. In the hospital bed, he refuses to say anything about his own attempted murder to the police.
The investigators are almost convinced that there is a link between the attempted murder and the Jimmy Casino murder. And almost every lead the police have leads them to people with some connection to the Mustang Topless Theater – which Jimmy owned, and where Bill was an investor.
A year and a half later, Bill told the police that he was shot by two hitmen hired by the mafia, because he had refused to sell them cocaine at the Mustang Topless Theater. Both perpetrators were convicted of attempted murder.
Mustang Topless Theater burns down
Although the investigation spins its wheels and gets nowhere with finding the killers, a couple of things happen in 1988 that make the case remain relevant.
First, the Mustang Topless Theater burns to the ground in January.
Two months later, a body is found in a parking lot in Irvine, California. The person killed is “Big George” Yudzevich, a known muscleman for the Orange County Mafia and one of the doormen of the Mustang Topless Theater. He is shot at close range, just like Jimmy Casino and Bill Carroll.
But then it goes quiet and the case remains unsolved.
The investigators get a glimmer of hope for a solution in 2001, when a jailed man with mafia connections – Frank Randazzo – tries to reduce his sentence by claiming to the district attorney that he has the solution to who killed Jimmy Casino.
It is, however, embarrassingly clear that Frank is lying when he tells about the murder, because the story matches neither Shelly’s explanation nor the police’s crime scene report. Frank finally admits that he is lying.
Startling DNA match
In 2008 comes the breakthrough the police have been waiting for for 20 years: Richard Morris – the man who several years earlier claimed that Mark Corbett killed Jimmy for $10,000 – is arrested in Hawaii after driving under the influence of drugs. Part of the arrest procedure is to take a DNA sample and enter it into the US DNA database.
Richard’s DNA gives one hit in the database: From Shelly’s rape. The DNA from the rape was entered into the database a few years earlier.
In questioning, Richard denies having either raped or killed anyone, and at the same time retracts what he said about Mark’s confession just over a decade earlier.
The overwhelming DNA evidence means that Richard is extradited to California to be prosecuted for the murder of Jimmy Casino. He is not prosecuted for the rape of Shelly Fisher, since the statute of limitations has expired.
Still unanswered questions
In the trial, Richard’s defense does not have much elbow room, but leans heavily on the fact that Joseph Orozco and Mark Corbett – the two who used Jimmy’s credit cards after the murder – are the real killers.
The prosecution, on the other hand, has the watertight DNA evidence and Shelly’s testimony. They work hard that Richard was acting on behalf of the Orange County mob, whose goal was to take over ownership of the profitable Mustang Topless Theater bar.
On 30 April 2013 – more than 26 years after the murder – Richard Morris is found guilty of premeditated murder. He is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Today – 36 years later – there are many unanswered questions surrounding the Jimmy Casino case. The biggest question, however, is: Who were Richard’s co-conspirators who helped kill Jimmy Casino?
The true crime series “The Real Murders of Orange County” is available on TV 2 Play.
Tags: Luguber businessman executed girlfriends rape solved murder mystery-