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Father, Real-Estate Mogul, Con-Man? The Assassination of Gary Triano

t’s been a long drive so far, and I appreciate you for hanging in there with me. We’re not even a quarter of the way through. And man, some people are just not road trip people, y’know? So this has been refreshing. We’re officially out of Nevada and moving on to Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon. They don’t call it the “Grand Canyon State” for no reason! Luke and I have already been to the Grand Canyon, though, and we’re really excited to get to our new home. So we’re gonna go ahead and skip the site seeing and get right on into the case.

Unlike a lot of the cases I usually try to cover, this one received widespread media attention due to the victim’s prominence and notoriety, as well as its dramatic nature. So let’s get into it.

On November 1st, 1996 an explosion in the Tucson La Paloma Country Club parking lot blew out windows of nearby buildings and cars. According to witnesses, the explosion could be heard from several miles away. That explosion came from a car bomb.

The red lincoln continental Gary Triano had been driving following the explosion

First responders arrived on scene within minutes, but there was no saving the owner of the vehicle. The car had been destroyed, and the body even more mangled. With a scene like the one they encountered, it would be no surprise if identifying the victim took years. But it didn’t. Despite the power behind the bomb, the exterior of the vehicle was still in good enough condition to discern the make and model, which was a red Lincoln Continental. In fact, the license plate was still attached and fully legible. Because of this, the victim was identified in mere hours, as none other than local business mogul and socialite, Gary Triano, who had been playing a round of golf just before his death. Because the vehicle was still recognizable as it was plastered across every local newsstation, family members learned about Gary’s fate on live television.

Gary Triano's red lincoln continental following the explosion

Real-Estate Mogul Gary Triano

Gary Triano was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. He grew up middle-class, and attended the University of Arizona. It was there that he earned his degree. I would get specific with the type of degree, but one source said law, another said business, and another said accounting. Regardless of his area of study, once out of college, Gary started his own real estate company, and made a series of smart investments, earning him a reputation of success. Outside of his business ventures, Gary was known for his flamboyant lifestyle and opulent parties. He had been married, divorced, and was the father of five children with 3 separate women. According to Pima County investigator, Gene Reedy, Gary had grown increasingly paranoid in the days leading up to his death. “Gary suspected he was being followed… he told people he was being followed by an individual that was driving a green Jeep-type SUV.”

News of his death sent shock and outrage throughout his community in Tucson.

Following his round of golf, Gary was supposed to meet his friends, The Janoffs, at 6 pm at a restaurant called “Encore Med” for their routine Friday night happy hour. The goal was to keep Gary away from his home long enough for 25 or so of his friends to get to Gary’s house in order to surprise him for his 53rd birthday. He never showed.

A report in the Tucson Citizen from November 2, 1996, stated that authorities had located Triano’s girlfriend, Robin Gardner, and informed her of the car bombing. Gardner was actually Gary’s former girlfriend. The two had dated for a year, had a daughter together, then split up a few months before Gary was killed.

At Gary’s home in nearby Sabino Canyon, partygoers were also receiving the devastating news. Guards stood watch as detectives began their investigation within Gary’s home.

After amassing a substantial amount of wealth and making a name for himself, Gary was able to involve himself in more high-profile ventures as a real estate investor throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In the 1980s, Gary acquired the Hacienda Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Nevada. Despite its location on the Las Vegas Strip, the specific area hadn’t been built up yet, and it was less convenient for those visiting to stay or gamble there. The casino also needed some serious updates in order to entice tourists away from the competitors. Gary invested heavily in the renovations and improvements needed to make the hotel a successful one.

With one high-profile restoration under his belt, Gary moved on to others, including San Diego’s Del Mar Fairgrounds, The Crown Sterling Suites Hotel, and the Princess Resort. The Fairgrounds project fell through, but still managed to cement Gary Triano as a major player in real estate and development. His ambitious vision, the publicity received from the project, and the connections made while working on it would greatly impact his future successes. – Which wouldn’t seem to outweigh his penchant for blowing through money.

Throughout the 1990s, Gary owned and operated the Crown Sterling Suites Hotel in Tucson, Arizona. The hotel was known for its lavish decor and high-end amenities. Both celebrities and wealthy travelers were frequent visitors of the hotel, and the opulent parties that Gary was known to host there.

Hearing all of that, you wouldn’t think that Gary Triano would have money problems. But you’d be wrong. Gary Triano filed for bankruptcy twice in his life. The first time was in 1986, and the second time was 10 years later. According to court records, he owed millions of dollars to various creditors, including banks, investors, and individual lenders.

In addition to the financial troubles, he also faced legal troubles. Prior to his first bankruptcy filing, in 1985, Gary was indicted on charges of bank fraud and conspiracy in connection with a scheme to obtain fraudulent loans from a California bank. According to a Los Angeles Times article published on November 2, 1985, Gary Triano pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud a financial institution. This charge was a lesser charge than the original charges of bank fraud and conspiracy that had been filed against him. The article reported that as part of his plea agreement, Triano agreed to cooperate with authorities in their ongoing investigation into the scheme. He was sentenced to 3 years of probation.

The legal troubles didn’t stop there, however. Gary Triano was also the subject of multiple debt collection lawsuits filed by creditors in an effort to recover money owed to them. For instance, in 1991, Triano and his company, Triano Associates, were sued by a developer in Las Vegas. The developer claimed they were owed $232,000 for construction work on a project done in Tucson.

In 1993, Triano and his wife, Pamela Phillips, were sued by a company that loaned them $300,000 for the purchase of their home in Tucson.

In 1994, he was sued by investors that had loaned him $750,000 to finance a real estate project in California. This lawsuit sought $20 million in damages. While the suit was ultimately dismissed, it garnered significant media attention at the time.

All of the lawsuits mentioned, save for the one that was dismissed, were settled out of court. There were many more lawsuits, though due to the private nature of many, it’s impossible to know just how many had been filed against him.

As you can imagine, with that many lawsuits involved, the authorities had no shortage of suspects. Those suspects may have even included ties to “The Chicago Outfit.”

The Chicago Outfit and Al Capone
The Chicago Outfit

Following the widely publicized murder, rumors began to swirl throughout his circles. Given the violent nature, it made sense that Gary’s killer had to have been someone with connections. Likely someone outside of their community. Someone like The Chicago Outfit, a well-known organized crime syndicate (obviously) based out of Illinois. This group has been involved in several criminal activities, including but not limited to gambling, extortion, labor racketeering, loan-sharking, narcotics trafficking, political corruption, arson, and car-bombings. Some of the most famous mob bosses of The Chicago Outfit are none other than Al Capone, Sam Giancana, and Tony Accardo.

Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal, inspiration behind Sam 'Ace' Rothstein in "The Casino"
Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal

So how the hell did someone like Gary Triano become wrapped up with them? Or did he? No publicly available evidence can confirm definitively that he ever was. But those that believed this often pointed to his connections to a Las Vegas man named Frank Rosenthal. You see, Rosenthal was a former casino executive who was best known for his role managing the Stardust Casino, which was owned by the Chicago Outfit. Fun fact – he’s actually the inspiration behind the character Sam “Ace” Rothstein in the movie “Casino,” which was based on Rosenthal’s life. Rosenthal himself was never convicted of any criminal charges related to his activities in Vegas. Nor was Gary Triano.

That didn’t stop people like Dr. Lawrence D’Antonio from speculating. Dr. Lawrence was a Tucson family physician who had known Gary since he was a young boy. He was also convinced that Gary was killed by mobsters. He must have owed them money, and refused to pay.

Unlike Gary’s friends and family, Dr. Lawrence’s opinion of Gary wasn’t so flattering. Sure, he agreed that Gary was flamboyant and good-looking, but there was a darker side to Gary that the doctor wasn’t fond of. “...He’s rotten to the core,” he said. “...He was a con man, he was a thief… and he would rob or steal from anybody, including his own family, his own wife. …That’s the way he was.” And as for the mobsters… well, Dr. Lawrence had a particular one in mind.

You see, Dr. Lawrence had been hired as a caretaker for a man named Neil McNeice. Neil McNeice grew up wealthy. His family had amassed a fortune from uranium mining, and Neil inherited millions of it. He also owned a portion of an Indy race car team. As we commonly see in people who have a ridiculous amount of wealth coupled with boredom, he became hooked on cocaine and heroin.

Neil McNeice
Neil Mcneice

McNeice was described by Dr. Lawrence as a long-time heroin addict with possible connections to Armenian organized crime. So… there’s lots of organizing going on with this story. Maybe they could work on my office next?

Anyway, Investigator Reedy described Neil McNeice as a “completely psychotic, insane guy” when he was on drugs. And, like the doctor, Reedy believed that McNeice was responsible. After all, it appeared he had a motive.

Dr. Lawrence alleged that in the mid-1990s, Gary had borrowed $80,000 from McNeice, and put up, supposedly, his wife’s wedding ring as collateral. Gary Triano had described this ring as a magnificent diamond ring worth $250,000. While McNeice thought he’d been given a diamond ring, he’d actually been duped. According to this story, Gary Triano had given Neil McNeice a ring made of cubic zirconia. He then never paid McNeice back.

For all the people out there that no nothing about jewelry beyond “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” there’s a huge difference between cubic zirconia and diamonds. What’s the difference? Well, cubic zirconia is nearly worthless. It’s one of the least expensive materials you can find for jewelry because it’s synthetic and mass-produced.

A one carat cut of zirconia will cost you around $20, while diamonds start at around $1800 for one carat. As you can imagine, finding out that this thing you believed to be worth $250,000, is maaaaybe worth $100 depending on the setting material, could make any sane person see red. Remove sanity from the equation, and it’s not inconceivable that someone would be willing to commit murder over it.

Dr. Lawrence said “...Neil went absolutely crazy, and he started to tell me, I’m gonna kill him. …I’m gonna kill him. …And when I kill Gary Triano, it will be spectacular. The whole world will know I killed him.” Well, Gary was dead. And the whole world knew. Because it was… spectacular.

Investigators had several questions for the doctor. The main question was “Did you warn Triano about the threats?” The answer? No. “I would never warn Gary Triano. As far as I was concerned, he robbed a man of $80,000 and whatever happened to him was his problem.” So… clearly there was no love lost between Dr. Lawrence and Gary Triano.

The theory didn’t stop at the story of the ring, though. Investigator reedy discovered a workshop with all the components you would need to build a bomb. The builder of the bomb, however, wasn’t McNeice. Instead of doing it himself, McNeice allegedly hired an entire “hit team” of hoodlums to go after Gary. That hit team included model airplane hobbyist Jerry Capuano, McNeice’s bodyguard, and others. Every member of this alleged team had a criminal record.

In fact, McNeice and his bodyguard had their own criminal histories, obviously. They’d both previously been convicted of extortion, and for threatening yet another person that owed McNeice money.

Investigator Reedy even believed he found a witness that saw the hit team in the country club parking lot the day of the bombing. Right up to the time of the explosion, someone sat in their car nearby reading a magazine. This person alleges that they looked in their mirror and saw someone by the bushes, as well as another person standing on a knoll. What they were doing, who knows?

But despite everything seeming to fit together perfectly, lead detective James Gamber wasn’t sold. Not only did he not believe the hit team existed, but he didn’t believe the ring story at all. He insisted that his team had gone down every wild goose chase, and the most likely was also the most plausible. Initially, the focus was on Gary’s girlfriend, Gardner. Their split happening so close to the killing made her almost too obvious a suspect. She was quickly cleared as a person of interest, but during the questioning, authorities locked onto another suspect.

Just weeks after the murder of Gary Triano, in December of 1996, Gary’s ex-wife, Pam Phillips, filed a life insurance claim. And what have I said about life insurance? If you’re gonna get it, tell no one.

Gary’s life insurance policy was for $2 million dollars, which is about $3,866,959.85 today. That’s not an insignificant amount of money. The beneficiaries were Gary and Pam’s 2 children, with Phillips as the trustee. Following the divorce, Phillips continued to make payments. Gary had attempted to cancel this policy, but because he wasn’t the actual owner of it, he wasn’t authorized to make changes. And yet, Phillips insisted, “There was no money motive. There was no insurance motive. …There’s nothing about me, nothing about me that would ever harm a person ever, ever.” Let’s dig into that.

Gary Triano and Pamela 'Pam' Phillips at their yacht wedding off the coast of San Diego

Gary Triano married Pamela Phillips in 1986. The wedding, much like their relationship, was lavish. The two wed on a yacht off the coast of San Diego at sunset. It was a picture-perfect wedding, and they were the couple you’d find in store-bought photo frames. She was a former model turned real estate agent with an alleged net worth of $2 million. Keep in mind, that number comes from Phillips herself during interviews following Gary’s murder.

The beginning of their marriage was indulgent. From the parties they threw, to the trips they took, they truly were living a life of luxury. Following the birth of their 2 children, Phillips stopped working to focus her attention on the children and her new website venture,, an astrology website centered around building client’s birth charts. Still, she’d adapted to the comforts that her husband’s income combined with her own brought her.

Well, it turns out those lavish comforts were more like fleeting pleasures. Let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we? In 1985, a mere year before their wedding bells chimed, Gary found himself filing for bankruptcy amidst a storm of bank fraud and conspiracy charges. Now, after a bankruptcy, you might not be living the life of luxury, but a good chunk of your debts magically disappear. So, let's put ourselves in that frame of mind for a moment. You're a man who's used to a certain amount of wealth, and you know that with the right deal, you can reclaim your throne in an instant. That being said, you can absolutely afford to wine and dine the gorgeous woman that caught your eye, right? Is it smart? Probably not. But is it doable? Clearly.

So, 1985 he declared bankruptcy. 1986 he married Pamela Phillips. In 1991 the couple was sued by a company that loaned them $300,000 for their home in Tucson. Surely anyone could see the writing on the wall. Hard times were ahead. And someone who’s accustomed to eating fresh crab plucked from the ocean isn’t about to switch to imitation, right? Sorry, my mind went straight to seafood. I haven’t had sushi in almost an entire year and it’s genuinely unacceptable. Regardless, the money was gone, or at least it was about to be.

By 1993, the couple finalized their divorce. And let me tell you, it was a contentious one. Several restraining orders were filed against each other, and they engaged in an almost acrobatic display of finger-pointing, with each accusation more daring than the last. Phillips accused Gary of being prone to violence, mixing antidepressents with alochol, throwing things, tearing her clothing, and displaying some stalkerish behavior. She said he drove around with a loaded gun in the front seat of his car.

You would hope that once the pair were legally separated, there might be a cooldown between them. That wouldn’t happen. The two still fought indignantly. Whether it was child support or visitation rights, it didn’t matter. The fighting only worsened when Gary and Gardner returned from a vacation to Mexico in May of 1994, only to find that Phillips had moved to Aspen, Colorado with his children. There was no conversation, no agreement, no warning. She simply took their two children and left. I know I haven’t spoken much about his children yet, but Gary was a really amazing dad. Despite all of the chaos that came with his career, and all the time it demanded, he always made time to be there for all 5 of his children. Taking them to another state was a devastating and unacceptable blow for the doting father. In fact, following Phillips’ move to Aspen, Gary flew his small private plane there as often as he could in order to see his kids. Those trips, however frequent, were always met with strife. The divorcees would argue about visitation rights and child support. Phillips also considered filing a restraining order while in Aspen, saying that a mutual friend of theirs had informed her that Gary had said if it weren’t for the kids, she’d be dead.

But why am I even talking about Pamela Phillips if she moved out of state? Surely that’s a sign she had moved on, right? Y’know… you’d think. But being the child of a long drawn out, vicious divorce, I can confirm that while distance may make the heart grow fonder, it does not heal all wounds. Especially if you’re the type to hold a grudge, or have undiagnosed personality disorders. Just saying.

But here’s where it gets really convoluted– because it wasn’t already, I guess? So typically, the first place an investigation starts is with the spouse, right? “The husband did it” is a common saying for a reason. But all of those red herrings with the crime rings and random nonsense crawling out of the woodwork caused one startling revelation to take a backseat for far too long.

Ronald Young Headshot

In October of 1996 – just one month prior to Gary’s death – Yorba Linda, California police found an abandoned van that had been rented by a man named Ronald Young. Young was wanted in none other than Aspen, Colorado. Now who do we know that lives in Aspen, Colorado? I’ll give ya a hint. It rhymes with Spamella Schphillips. That was dumb, anyway. Who cares, right? What does Yorba Linda have to do with Tucson? And the Aspen population in 1996 was over 5,000 people, so it could be a coincidence, right?

But, back to the van and the criminal record. Inside of the van, authorities discovered a taser, a sawed-off shotgun, and several documents tied to Gary Triano. Those documents included copies of his marital dissolution paperwork, a map of Tucson, Arizona, and a list of people associated with Gary and the cars they drove. The van also contained a receipt from the Ramada Inn hotel near Gary’s home.

As I briefly mentioned at the very beginning of this episode, friends of Gary had mentioned to authorities that in the days leading up to his death, Gary had become paranoid. He insisted he was being followed by someone in a “green Jeep-type SUV.” We’d later learn that Gary hadn’t been mistaken. Ronald Young had been stalking Gary, learning his routine, and plotting his demise. Young had been staying at the Ramada under an alias for nearly 3 weeks in July of 1996.

So who was Ronald Young, why did he have it out for Gary Triano, and was Aspen merely a coincidence?

Well, all of those questions are about to be answered real fast. Ronald Young was Pamela Phillips’ neighbor in Aspen, Colorado. The two met at a backyard barbecue, and quickly became friends. Young acted as her business consultant and helped develop a website for the real estate business Phillips was starting. As time progressed, the two would have an off-again on-again intimate relationship.

As is the ushe for on-again off-again relationships, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In April of 1996 Ronald Young simply vanished. Phillips had gone to her attorney, stating that Young had defrauded her, and she wanted to seek legal action. Doing his job, the attorney reported the fraud to local authorities. Phillips promptly stopped cooperating in the investigation, despite being determined to pursue fraud charges just weeks prior. It was certainly a strange move. Phillips obviously wasn’t one to turn the cheek when she felt she was owed something. Yet, she appeared to be doing just that.

Still, Aspen police pursued the charges and obtained a warrant to search Young’s home for computers, files, and anything else relating to the fraud case. They also gathered evidence from several banks before procuring a warrant for Young’s arrest in August of ‘96. But first, they had to find him.

Then, just months later in October ‘96, the Yorba Linda police discovered the van Young had rented from the Aspen airport. It turned out, Yorba Linda wasn’t random. It was where Young’s parents lived. And as we know, parking a van near your parent’s house isn’t illegal. However, renting a van, not paying, and then also not returning it on its return date is illegal. The rental company reported the van as stolen, allowing the Yorba Linda police department to impound the vehicle. They then contacted Aspen authorities about the stolen vehicle.

It was Aspen Police detective James Crowley who put the pieces together. The map, the documents, the timing… it was all too much to be a coincidence. Crowley contacted the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in Tucson with his findings. It was the break the authorities needed, but there was one problem.

Where the hell was Ronald Young?

His whereabouts would remain unknown until 2005, when America’s Most Wanted profiled him. The episode focused predominantly on the fraud case, but did mention that he was wanted for questioning in regard to Gary Triano’s murder. Within hours of the episode’s release on November 19th, 2005, a call came in to the tip line. As luck would have it, Young didn’t follow the number one rule of being a fugitive: don’t settle into a routine. Young did the exact opposite.

Ronald Young started going by the alias “Kelly Young.” He built a life for himself in the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida. He saw a chiropractor on a regular basis, and even convinced the chiropractor to hire him as his business manager. The chiropractor saw the episode and immediately called the tip line. After all, this man was wanted for fraud, and he was currently managing his books and bank accounts. It would turn out that Ronald Young was using an American Express card to defraud the chiropractor, just as he had done to others so many times before.

Even better than just saying he knew the guy, the chiropractor essentially created the sting that led to Young’s capture. He told the authorities on the other line “I’m absolutely certain this is is the guy. He has an appointment at my office tomorrow.”

By the time former Pima County Detective James Gamber could get off his flight back from filming the Most Wanted episode, he had a voicemail. “We just arrested Young in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You have a flight to Fort Lauderdale in 4 hours.”

Thanks to rows of tall bushes surrounding the parking lot of the chiropractor’s office, the arrest had gone off without a hitch. Young arrived in a taxi and was arrested on fraud charges and as a fugitive in possession of a firearm.

When questioned about Gary Triano, Young did a really shitty job of coming up with a backstory. He only had, what, 9 years to think of something? But he had nothing. When asked what he knew about Gary, Young said, “All I know about Gary is that he was an abusive man, and he abused Pam.” He also said that he had never once been to Tucson, Arizona, but wait. Maybe he had once, but it was a long time ago and had nothing to do with Gary Triano. When asked about all of the evidence recovered from the abandoned van that linked him to Gary, he had no explanation.

With everything they had on Ronald Young though, it wasn’t difficult for authorities to figure it out. After meeting Pamela Phillips, the two entered a professional and romantic relationship. During that time, Phillips would tell him of her –allegedly– abusive husband, and Young had no reason not to believe her. Eventually, their relationship soured when Phillips discovered he had been pulling the wool over her eyes with her business. Phillips reported him to the authorities, only to stop cooperating when the two came to a more mutually beneficial arrangement.

Ronald Young needed money, and he needed to get out of town. Pamela Phillips wanted her husband dead so she could collect his $2 million life insurance policy, and avoid any further arguments with him. Searches of Young’s hotel room, storage unit, vehicle, and laptop corroborated this theory. A forensic accountant was able to determine that Phillips had been making payments to Young from the trust containing Gary Triano’s life insurance payout.

In addition to the convoluted but accessible money trail, Young wasn’t entirely stupid. Sure, he couldn’t come up with a cover story in 9 entire years. And no, he didn’t think to remove any evidence tying him to Gary Triano from the van before simply abandoning it. But hey, he’s not a psychic. – Can you detect the sarcasm here? But, when it came to going down for the crime, Young wasn’t going to do it alone.

Despite having fled his Fort Lauderdale apartment following the airing of the Most Wanted episode, Young held onto some damning evidence. In his hotel room were microtapes with hours of recorded conversations between him and Phillips.

During trial, it was revealed that these conversations both implicitly and explicitly discussed their illegal financial arrangement. They discussed their fears of detection, and even news articles about the death of Gary Triano. In one conversation, Pamela Phillips told Young that the money was all gone, and she would no longer be sending money to him, despite having promised to send him $400,000. Young responded by saying “You’re going to be in prison for murder.”

But, I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself here. Ronald Young had only been arrested on Fraud charges at this time. And as we true crime fans know, it takes FOREVER to get through evidence. Ronald Young went on trial for the fraud charges in December of 2006, and the case was dismissed without prejudice to the nature of the prosecution’s evidence with the judge saying, “It is not appropriate for people to rely solely on hearsay evidence.” He walked free.

On September 6, 2006, Pamela Phillips was publicly named as a suspect in Gary Triano’s death. Aspen police executed a search warrant at Phillips’ Aspen home in association with an investigation being conducted by Pima County Arizona’s Sheriff’s Department. During this search, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives discovered recorded conversations. These conversations included threats, blackmail, money drops, a secret romance, and evidence of conspiracy.

But, the wheels of justice turn slowly, and 2 years later, in September 2008, Pamela Phillips left the U.S. She first went to London before traveling to Milan, Italy, and finally making her way to Switzerland where she lived in a $5,000-a-month apartment in the lakeside town of Lugano. She wined and dined with a well-to-do widower, and generally just enjoyed her life. Her attorneys later told Pima County investigators that her reason for leaving was to be closer to her daughter, who was attending college in Switzerland. Frankly, I call bullshit on the reasoning, considering there’s absolutely no way she didn’t see the charges coming.

In October of that same year, Ronald Young was arrested again in Yorba Linda, California. This time, the chargers were finally first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. And before you say, “wait, what about Pam?!” Just calm.

Pamela Phillips was arrested in Vienna, Austria on December 3, 2009 and extradited back to Tucson in connection with Gary’s murder.

As you’d expect, both individuals got their own trial, with Ronald Young going to trial first. He was sentenced to natural life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Pamela Phillips’ trial was delayed for a while for several reasons. Phillips had been officially indicted, or charged with a crime, in 2008. Then, it took about a year to locate Phillips, who had been laying low in Austria. It then took an additional year to extradite her back to the United States.

Finally, she was back on American soil, and it seemed like things were finally going to move forward. That is, until she was ruled “mentally incompetent” to stand trial. Those that tested her mental ability said that while she was currently incompetent, with some time and help, she could become competent. That finally happened in 2014.

When the trial ultimately came to be in 2014, Young’s case and the fact that he was found guilty was not admissible as evidence in her trial. Still, she was convicted on both first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. Possibly because the prosecution called her own friends to the stands as witnesses who then testified that she often talked about how easy it would be to hire someone to kill Gary? Just a factor.

Phillips was sentenced to concurrent life prison terms with the possibility of release after 25 years for the conspiracy conviction. Now I need a lawyer to explain to me if the “possibility for release” thing only applies to the conspiracy charge… Meaning she’d basically have served her time for that but would still be in prison for the murder charge… or would she just get out of prison altogether? ‘Tis confusion!

As of June 2022, Pam was incarcerated at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville. Ronald Young, as of December 2020, remains in prison at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Tucson. Which kind of feels fair to me? You kill someone in Tucson, you’re condemned to live there in that hellish heat for the rest of your miserable life.

Prison headshots of Pamela Phillips and Ronald Young, convicted  for the murder of Gary Triano

In November of 2009, Triano’s children won a wrongful death suit they had filed against Phillips and Young in 2007. They were awared $10 million.

Like myself, you’re probably wondering what the relationship between the kids from Gary’s prior marriage and Pamela Phillips was like in all of the time the case remained unsolved. Well, during the years Gary and Phillips were married, the 2 kids, Heather and Brian, did grow to love the woman as a stepmother. Following his death, their relationships continued. Heather even lived with Phillips in Aspen for awhile after Phillips invited her to work for her Starbabies company.

Despite living together, the two never discussed Gary’s murder. Heather would help care for her half-siblings, work on developing the company, and spend time with the family. But the murder genuinely never came up. When it came to light that Pam may have been involved in the murder, Heather and Brian were stunned. They had truly come to love Pam. Not to mention what that would mean for their half-siblings. Prior to the trial, when the two eldest Triano children were asked “If this thing ends with Pam being convicted, is that for the two of you, the worst way this could have come out?” Without missing a beat, both responded yes.

Quite understandably, once Phillips was named a suspect, both stopped speaking to her. At the trial, Gary Triano’s sister and two eldest children gave impact statements. Heather said, “Pam, who at one time was my stepmother and my friend, destroyed lives due to her greed and love of money. Pam’s lack of thought for her own children is appalling.” Neither of Pam’s children were present in the courtroom. The Triano family also took issue with the defense’s characterization of Gary as a cheat or a mob man. They said that if Gary Triano was anything, he was a loving and dedicated father who gave back to his community and made it a better place.

I could find no statements from the family members following sentencing, but I can’t say I’d be surprised if they never wanted to speak of it again. It’s devastating on so many levels, and even the closure is just… well, it’s like removing the knife from the wound and inserting a sword instead of closing it up. Wherever the Triano children are, I hope they’re thriving.

With all of the twists, turns, and mobster ties, it’s not really surprising that it took 18 years to solve the murder of Gary Triano. And when justice finally came, it certainly wasn’t the outcome that was wanted. But it was the one that was needed.

This has been the cursed tale of a loving father struck down by a life insurance policy, and a money-hungry socialite with her bitch of a henchman that was about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

For more cursed content, you can find me at my website You can find me across all socials @ThiceCursedPod. Join the Facebook group, discord server, or Patreon through the links on the website. Send me an email or case suggestion to And leave me a review! They definitely help.

Until next time, keep your curses hexy and your hexes sexy.

The Tombstone of loving father and real-estate mogul Gary Lee Triano, assassinated in 1996


Oxygen, Finding Ron Young

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