View Full Version : Remember this story?

06-18-2005, 12:30 PM
The Roger Wheeler story on one of the pre-Stack specials. He was the president of World Jai Alai who was gunned down in the parking lot of his Tulsa country club. There were also 2 other suspicious deaths and police thought all 3 might be related. Here is an article (I have no idea how old) concerning one of the murders I found interesting.

Boston mobster pleads guilty to jai alai murder

Associated Press

MIAMI -- A Boston mobster has pleaded guilty to murdering a former World Jai Alai executive 19 years ago and agreed to cooperate in the investigation of two alleged associates.

John Martorano, 60, pleaded guilty Tuesday before state Circuit Court Judge Scott Silverman to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for the 1982 slaying of John B. Callahan, a Boston accountant and former World Jai Alai president.

Under terms of his plea agreement, Martorano will receive a 15-year sentence if he cooperates and it will run simultaneously with any other sentences he may receive for other crimes he is accused of committing.

Callahan's body was found stuffed in trunk of a Cadillac at Miami International Airport. Martorano told authorities Callahan was killed to keep him from telling investigators about links between World Jai Alai and Boston' Winter Hill gang.

The gang's reputed leader, James "Whitey" Bulger, 71, and his assistant, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, 66, are also charged with Callahan's murder and the 1981 Tulsa, Okla., slaying of Roger Wheeler, World Jai Alai's owner. They are also charged by federal authorities with racketeering.

According to Miami court documents, Martorano has also agreed to plead guilty to Wheeler's slaying. Oklahoma officials have said Martorano has admitted to being the triggerman in both Wheeler's and Callahan's slayings.

Neither of Martorano's attorneys, Frank Rubio in Miami or Francis Di Mento in Boston, immediately returned calls for comment Wednesday.

Bulger, whose brother, William Bulger, was president of the state Senate and now heads the University of Massachusetts, has been a fugitive since 1995 and is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. There is a $1 million reward for his arrest.

Flemmi is being held by federal authorities pending trial.

Awsi Dooger
06-20-2005, 05:28 PM
Thanks for that update crystaldawn. I had no idea that case had been solved. I'm from Miami and remember when it happened. I used to be a big jai-alai fan and would even stroll confidently into the Miami Jai Alai fronton when I was underage. That was the Yankee Stadium of jai alai at the time. Too damn bad it went downhill after the company was too cheap to the players and there were labor disputes.

06-20-2005, 05:44 PM
Hey Awsi! I actually found quite a bit out about it online and although it is sad that he was killed, it would make a very interesting movie! Apparently some Boston mob syndicate was skimming profits from World Jai Alai back when John Callahan ran it but when Wheeler bought it and put an end to that. He also refused to let the mob buy World Jai Alai and apparently thats why there was a hit put on him. They are still looking for "Whitey" Bulger in this case. They also made mention of a former Boston FBI agent, H. Paul Rico, who at the time of Wheeler's murder was the head of security at World Jai Alai. They claim he was one of the ones responsible for ordering the hit and thus the family thinks the government helped some of the key people walk. Here is a link that talks about the family of Wheeler filing a wrongful death suit:

Do you know if World Jai Alai is still around or what happened to it after his death?

06-25-2005, 10:56 PM
Thanks for posting this... it was the VERY FIRST special in January 1987... WOW

Special #1
January 20, 1987
Synopsis: Raymond Burr looks at four real-life mysteries; a Wyoming man found dead under mysterious circumstances three years after he disappeared from home; a 72-year-old Detroit woman who claimed to be the Siamese twin of a member of the Dodge auto family, separated at birth and put up for adoption, and now heir to the family fortune; the professional murder of a Tulsa executive at his country club; and two especially dangerous bank robbers who were then at large. (Repeated August 9, 1987)

06-25-2005, 10:59 PM
I have this case and am looking to add it soon to my archive on the site. Stay tuned. It's interesting viewing it because you're so used to Stack's trademark voice so it's an experience with Burr.

compulsive dvd
06-25-2005, 11:49 PM
I just saw a documentary called Stolen, about some stolen art in Boston. Whitey Bulger's name came up as a possible link to where the art is, since nothing went down in Boston without him knowing about it. Since he's been on Unsovled Mysteries so many times, I knew who he was.

Jersey Girl 7
06-25-2005, 11:54 PM
is that address still valid????? i always see it at the end of the show and was wondering if they still read letters.

Awsi Dooger
06-26-2005, 12:14 AM
Do you know if World Jai Alai is still around or what happened to it after his death?

No, crystaldawn, World Jai Alai is long gone and the sport has sadly declined. I used to visit Miami Jai Alai frequently when I lived there and several times per year every time I visited thereafter. Now I never go and I don't know anyone who does. There are still frontons in Miami and Ft. Pierce but they get much smaller crowds and very little publicity. Mostly the people go there for simulcast wagering on racetracks.

Back in the '70s and early '80s the sport was at its heyday in Florida. They would even show highlights of the key games every night on the sports report. The way the sport is set up, the early games feature the lesser players then maybe games 6 or 7 thru 12 have all the top players. It used to be tremendously exciting, especially the great homegrown American star Joey (Cornblitt) taking on all the traditional Basque stars from Spain. They would have yearly competitions with the best players from Miami taking on the best from Ft. Pierce, or even Hartford, CT which was also a big fronton.

But the company took advantage of the uneducated players. They had no pension or good health care and the salaries were lousy. Finally the players formed a union and went on strike. It lasted 29 months and that killed the sport, unfortunately. They tried replacement players but they sucked. Attendance dipped to near zero. When the players came back the fans did not.

I just found this link with more info:

It says World Jai Alai was bought out in 1993. One of the frontons, in Tampa, is now a Home Depot. I have a special fondness for jai alai because I accidentally wore a Miami Jai Alai T-shirt to my first day of classes at USC in the '80s. One of my profs was stunned. He said jai alai was his favorite sport but no one in his classes ever knew what it was, let alone wear a shirt promoting the top fronton in the country. I'm convinced I got an "A" partially because of that.