The link between Playboy’s Sandy Bentley’s expensive jewellery and the murder of two men in L.A. had been made 9 years ago. Now investigators hope that a new show and a $75,000 reward will help them finally crack the case.
The CBS show “48 Hours Mystery: “Playing with Fire” was aired on Saturday night and has inspired fresh interest in the killing of part-time model and doorman Michael Tardio and his friend, Chris Monsoon. The pair was found in a Mercedes SUV shot at close range. The culprit had attempted to burn the car.
Detectives could not find any evidence they could use and no one in the neighborhood had heard shots fire, giving rise to the belief that the murder took place somewhere else and the bodies then driven to another location.
CBS cites retired L.A. homicide detective Bill Cox, who says he still can’t put the case out of his mind. “I think about it quite a bit more than I should,” Cox said. “In all my 20 years of working homicide, I have never run across a case like this one!”
Tardio and Monsoon are believed to have been trying to secretly sell $750,000 worth of jewellery on the night they were killed. These jewels belonged to Tardio’s then-girlfriend and former Playboy bunny Sandy Bentley, whom he met on the Hollywood club scene. The pin-up girl had acquired the valuable items from ex-boyfriend and Ponzi schemer Mark Yagalia before his $40 million Asbury Capital fund collapsed, who claims to have been “madly in love” with her. She, in turn was “madly in love with his money”.
Yagalia estimates that he spent between $6 or $7 million on Bentley during the 13 months they dated. The money went on a house, furs, cars, Rolex watches and jewellery, including an exact diamond and ruby replica of the necklace and earring set Richard Gere gives to Julia Roberts in the film Pretty Woman, costing around a quarter of a million dollars.
Before meeting Yagalia, Bentley was a live-in girlfriend of Hugh Hefner at his Playboy mansion, together with her twin Mandy. According to Hef’s other girlfriend Izabela St.James, who went on to write a book about her experiences at the mansion, Sandy did not treat the octogenarian well and cheated on him repeatedly. Eventually Yagalia found his “ultimate trophy” and Sandy left Hef for good.
The ill-gotten jewels that he was to give her would later cause the killing of two innocent men. Tardio and Monsoon were trying to unload the stash, which was illegally paid for by Yagalia clients’ money and not his own, as federal authorities were under orders to seize it.
Police hope the CBS show will encourage those who have more information to come forward. “There are people who knew something but maybe were fearful,” LAPD Detective Dennis English told the N.Y. Daily News. “We hope now they’ve matured.”
Neither Bentley nor her Wall Street scammer ex are suspects in the case.
Click here to read more about former Playmates Jennifer Lyn Jackson, Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek, Penthouse creator Bob Guccione and Hugh Hefner’s recent engagement to his 24-year-old girlfriend.
Image: PR PhotosTags: murder