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Killer Located in Nudist Camp After Missing Bookie Found Buried in Las Vegas Desert

Bruce Weinstein's disappearance and murder case led to mob theories, shallow graves, a nudist colony, and finally, those responsible.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Las Vegas bookmaker Bruce Weinstein had “a really big personality,” his adoring daughter told Sin City Murders, airing Sundays at 7/6c p.m. on Oxygen.

How to Watch

Watch Sin City Murders on Peacock or the Oxygen app.

For years, Weinstein, 46, made a big living as a bookie. But in a shocking turn of events, Lady Luck turned her back on him. On July 6, 1996, Weinstein vanished.

“I got a call from my mother saying that my brother Bruce did not open his office, which is unthinkable in his world,” his younger brother, Steven Weinstein, told Sin City Murders.

Weinstein and his girlfriend, Amy DeChant, had plans to go to Lake Tahoe. “Amy told my mother that Bruce had gone out in the middle of the night to go do something and said, ‘If I’m not back, I'll meet you in Lake Tahoe,’” Steven said.

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Bookmaker Bruce Weinstein vanishes, search begins

The fact that Weinstein left behind his phone, a bookie’s lifeline, and his American Express card, were totally out of character, according to Steven, who decided to fly to Las Vegas that day. He met his mom and they went over to Weinstein's house, where Steven said he told DeChant they needed to file a missing persons report. DeChant filed the report.

Bruce Weinstein featured on Sin City Murders Episode 103

“Amy explained to the missing persons detectives that Bruce would on occasion leave town, but he always told people where he was going,” said retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department homicide detective Phil Ramos.

“She said, ‘He left last night and he hasn't been back and I'm worried about him,’” Ramos added.

Three days later, the missing bookie’s family circled back to the LVMPD. They pointed out that Weinstein had a business and a daughter, Jaclyn Weinstein, who was just 6 years old at the time. He wouldn’t just up and leave her.

Investigators learned more about Weinstein. He was “the life of the party,” his ex-wife, Elizabeth Tuch, told Sin City Murders.

Weinstein caught DeChant’s eye in 1995. They hit it off right away, according to Ramos. She had her own carpet and upholstery cleaning business.

Bruce Weinstein's girlfriend, Amy DeChant, describes a mob-style hit

After a number of attempts, investigators got in touch with the elusive DeChant. She recalled harrowing events she hadn’t mentioned before.

The night before the couple’s scheduled Lake Tahoe trip, DeChant came home at around 7 p.m. and was surprised by scuffling and muffled voices upstairs, she told authorities. “Then she says she hears three gunshots,” Ramos told Sin City Murders.

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DeChant claimed she was surprised from behind with a gun pressed to the back of her head. She believed she heard Weinstein’s body being dragged down the stairs, she told investigators, adding that the men told her to clean up the mess and to not contact the police. She cleaned the place with upholstery cleaning equipment from her business, then hid out at different people's houses, she said.

“She was afraid that whoever had killed him was coming after her next,” Ramos said of what DeChant relayed.

Investigators carefully combed through Weinstein’s house. “We were looking for evidence of a firearm being used, particularly in the master bedroom,” said Michael Perkins, a retired LVMPD crime scene analyst.

No fingerprints, bullets, casings, or impact sites were found. There were substantial blood stains under the mattress. Luminol testing showed traces of blood trailing from the master bedroom to the downstairs door.

Bruce Weinstein missing-persons case becomes a homicide

“This is no longer a missing persons case. This is a possible homicide,” said Tom Roberts, a retired LVMPD assistant sheriff.

A hidden safe in the master bedroom had only $20 in it. There was about $100,000 missing, according to investigators.

Police canvassed Weinstein's neighborhood and turned up no leads. Detectives considered that the crime “may have been a mafia or organized crime hit,” said Roberts.

Investigators discovered that Weinstein had been arrested for illegal bookmaking in Los Angeles years earlier. He had become a Los Angeles Police Department informant.

“Once we learned about the cooperation that Bruce had with the LAPD, it kind of gave credence to Amy's story,” Ramos told Sin City Murders.

Homicide investigators looked into the cases that Weinstein had informed on. But this avenue led nowhere, according to Roberts.

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Detectives found Weinstein and an informal business associate, Ken, had turned gambling into a personal side hustle.

“There was some talk that Bruce owed Ken $5,000,” said former Clark County District Attorney David Roger. "To use Las Vegas terms, that was chump change.”

Ken was found to have a solid alibi, so this investigative line was dropped. About two weeks into the case, the case stalled. Weinstein’s family members were desperate for progress.

“When I went to Vegas, I would literally look in the desert and say maybe he's there,” said the victim’s sister, Robin Weinstein Loehr.

Detectives decided to reinterview DeChant, but she was nowhere to be found. Had she herself become a victim? Or was she involved in her boyfriend’s death?

Where were Bruce Weinstein's remains found?

On August 11, 1996, skeletal remains were found by hunters in an isolated stretch of desert outside of Las Vegas. A strong chemical odor permeated the area.

In a shocking twist, as this body was being removed from its shallow grave, another one was found 400 yards away.

During an autopsy, a .380 caliber bullet was removed from the first body recovered. Dental records confirmed it was Bruce Weinstein. His cause of death was a gunshot. His death was ruled a homicide.

The second body was identified as a man whose death wasn’t linked to Weinstein.

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Bobby Jones and Amy Dechant featured on Sin City Murders Episode 103

A break in the case came across the country when a woman was picked for speeding in Maryland. As the trooper approached the car, “this woman hikes up her skirt,” said Ramos, adding that her maneuver didn’t get her out of getting a ticket.

The woman was DeChant. There was a big bag of $100 bills, news clippings about Weinstein, and another woman’s birth certificate in the car. After the traffic bust, DeChant’s family posted bond — and she disappeared again.

In January 1997, a .380 caliber gun was found in the desert. The serial number led police to its original owner, Robert Wayne “Bobby” Jones. He worked for DeChant, and, like her, he was on the lam.

A warrant was issued for Jones’ home and van, which had the same chemical odor present at Weinstein’s shallow grave. Investigators believed Weinstein’s body may have been doused with cleaning fluid to hasten decomposition.

Amy DeChant, Bobby Jones arrested for murder in Bruce Weinstein's death

To help catch the two fugitives, investigators spread the word about the case on America’s Most Wanted. Jones was found in New Mexico and taken into custody on June 7, 1997. He refused to talk with police.

DeChant was located on January 3, 1998 in Florida, where she was tending bar in a nudist camp. In custody in Las Vegas, she maintained that mobsters killed Weinstein.

Detectives knew that DeChant had access to Weinstein’s hidden safe. “Greed was a motivating factor,” said Roberts.

DeChant and Jones were tried together in October 1998. Prosecutors presented the theory that an extortion plot went fatally wrong on July 5, 1996.

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Amy DeChant, Bobby Jones found guilty, verdicts later overturned

DeChant was found guilty of first-degree murder and given two life sentences. Jones received five years behind bars for his role in the crime, which consisted of giving DeChant the murder weapon and helping her clean blood from Weinstein's home, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

But two years later, both convictions were overturned. A former homicide detective who had testified called DeChant’s account of what happened a “fairy tale,” and Nevada Supreme Court justices felt that he should not have been allowed to give his opinion, according to Sin City Murders.

DeChant and Jones were granted a new trial. For his parents’ sake, Steven Weinstein said he asked prosecutors to negotiate a plea deal.

This time, DeChant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, according to the Las Vegas SunDeChant received a 10- to 25-year sentence. She served 13 years and was released on parole in 2011.

The Clark County district attorney's office dismissed the charges against Jones, since he had already served three years of what would likely be a two- to five-year sentence.

Weinstein’s loved ones keep his memory alive. “My dad had a very Buddhaesque body,” said Jaclyn Weinstein. Her collection of Buddhas makes her feel “connected to him.”

To learn more about the case, featured in the "All Bets Are Off" episode of Sin City Murders, watch the series airing Sundays at 7/6c p.m. on Oxygen.