Wealthy businessman Gary Triano had just finished a round of golf at a Tucson country club in 1996. Friends were waiting to throw him a surprise birthday party. But a remote control pipe bomb had been placed in his Lincoln in the country club parking lot…
There was no shortage of suspects. Triano had engaged in a number of shady deals; lawsuits had begun to accumulate. Moreover, he’d taken out a $2 million life insurance policy for his kids. But the beneficiary was his ex-wife, Aspen socialite Pamela Phillips, who he’d divorced three years before.
Triano had been involved in a number of shady business deals, so there was no shortage of suspects
The case remained unsolved for 10 years. That’s when Ronald Young was arrested in Florida on a weapons charge.
He’d had a fling with Phillips in Aspen years before. And police found suspicious tapes in his home implicating them in Triano’s slaying.
It seems Phillips had promised to pay Young $400,000 to whack her ex. But after the explosion, she didn’t pay off. Maybe she was trying to stiff him, but on recordings Young made of their conversations, she expressed fear that police would notice large withdrawals from her bank account.
There was talk of FedEx drops and ATM withdrawals. Phillips was also channeling Young money through her real estate and internet companies, detectives believe. But at one Young can be heard pressing her for more than $200,000. It seems Phillips was trying to go cheap on paying for the successful hit.
When police arrested Ronald Young four years ago, they found incriminating tapes in his home
The tapes spanned a decade, and showed Young threatening to rat her if she didn’t come up with the money. “You’re gonna be in a women’s prison for murder,” he told her, according to an affidavit.
But the tapes apparently weren’t enough to get an indictment. Young wasn’t nabbed for the bombing until 2008, when he was arrested in California. Police had been watching Phillips’ home at the time, poised to arrest her as well. What they didn’t know is that she’d left for Italy a month before.
Phillips was finally arrested in December on an international warrant at an Austrian hotel. She’s fighting extradition, alleging that Young recorded the tapes without her knowledge, and that they shouldn’t be admitted as evidence. But so far the courts don’t seem to be buying.
Young, now 66, goes on trial next week in Tucson for murder and conspiracy. Phillips is facing the same charges. But Austrian authorities may not agree to extradite her if she faces the death penalty. The Europeans, as a general rule, aren’t big on state-sponsored revenge killings.
We’ll keep you posted.