He was one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his time. But Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel’s unsolved murder in June 1947 sparked decades of mystery.
But in 2014, the family of his former best friend, Moe Sedway, has told Los Angeles magazine that they know who was behind the brutal shooting – and why they did it.
Siegel, an American mobster with the Luciano crime family, was shot dead in his girlfriend Virginia Hill’s Beverly Hills home, just south of Sunset Boulevard, on the night of June 20, 1947.
The 41-year-old was reading a newspaper in the living room when a gunman fired a 30-caliber military M1 carbine through the window, fatally striking him in the head and torso.
Iconic black-and-white photos, later released by police, show the glamorous Hollywood gangster slumped backward on a sofa, his head drooped to the side and his left eye blown out.
In subsequent decades, Siegel’s murder became Beverly Hills Police Department’s most famous unsolved case, leaving both historians and law officials perplexed.
It sparked a series of rumors over the circumstances of his death, including that Mob boss Meyer Lansky ordered his murder due to his overspending on the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
He was one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his time. But Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel’s unsolved murder in June 1947 sparked decades of mystery
Siegel, who named the hotel after his girlfriend’s ‘flamingo-like’ legs, had spent up to six times his original $1million budget, including vast amounts of Lansky’s money, on the venture.
But in a new interview, Robbie Sedway, whose father, Moe, was Siegel’s best friend for years, claims the famous gangster was not killed in a dispute over money. Instead, Siegel was apparently murdered for love.
‘It’s a love story,’ said Robbie, revealing his mother, Bee Sedway, was at the center of the dispute.
Bee, who lived her later years in a ranch house in Corona, California, gave a two-hour interview to documentary filmmakers in 1993, which was then obtained by Los Angeles magazine.
In the footage, the 75-year-old told of how she had been introduced to Siegel by her husband Moe, whom she met while working at The Paradise Cabaret in Manhattan and married in 1935.
Six weeks after they met, Moe reportedly told Bee: ‘I want you to meet one of my best friends in all the world,’ before introducing her to Siegel, whose ‘beautiful blue’ eyes ‘fascinated’ her.
However, Siegel was apparently not as enamored with Moe’s new woman, telling his friend: ‘Moey, she’s so pretty, but she’s got that little hairline space between her teeth.’
But in following years, the pair became close friends, with Siegel teaching Bee how to walk properly, introducing her to his fellow gangster friends and calling her his ‘little lunatic’.
This iconic black-and-white photo shows Siegel’s body on a morgue table, with a tag looped on his toe
Al Tannebaum (l-r), Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles and District Attorney Burton Fitts give evidence on Siegel
In the footage, Bee confirmed the star was not gunned down over money, saying he would ‘never’ have been killed for financial reasons.
However, it was only in a proposal for a book called Bugsy’s Little Lunactic – that was never published amid fears it was ‘too dangerous’ – that she revealed the ‘truth’ behind Siegel’s murder.
In the document, also seen by the magazine, Bee explained how Siegel had threatened the life of her husband, who was tasked with keeping track of the money Lanskey was fronting for the casino, which was poorly received when it first opened in December 1946.
She said Siegel had declared he wanted Moe ‘gone’, saying: ‘I’ll have Moe shot, chop his body up, and feed it to the Flamingo Hotel’s kitchen garbage disposal.’
She revealed that she had then called up her lover – Mathew ‘Moose’ Pandza, a truck driver and crane operator – and asked him to help protect her husband from the gangster.
Bee had met Moose, a 6ft 3in native Angeleno whom she described as a ‘great cook’, at a Los Angeles club at a time when Moe was seeing a mistress. The pair quickly fell in love.
She later told her husband that she had met someone and wanted to get married, before he insisted on meeting Moose and agreed on a deal to ‘share’ his wife. Moe and Moose shortly became ‘as close as two fingers on one hand,’ according to Bee’s book proposal.
It was this man – Bee’s lover, Moe’s trusted friend and a non-member of the crime family – who killed Siegel, according to Robbie. Robbie, who saw Moose as a ‘fatherly figure’ during his childhood years, revealed he had asked his mother aged 16 whether she knew who killed the gangster.
It was in a proposal for a book called Bugsy’s Little Lunactic that Bee Sedway revealed what she claimed to be the truth behind Siegel’s murder. Above, Siegel (left) with his attorney Jerry Giesler
‘She said, ‘Moose.’ And I’m like, ‘Moose?’ She said, ‘Don’t ever tell anybody’, he said.
Bee later told him that Moe had finally decided he could no longer live in fear of Siegel following his death threat, Robbie said.
‘Moose, he’s got to be gotten rid of,’ Moe reportedly told Bee’s lover. ‘What other answer is there?’
Robbie added that Lansky gave his blessing to the murder – but insisted that no-one within the ‘family’ could be involved. In the following weeks, Moose reportedly practiced shooting targets in the sand dunes of El Monte, before monitoring police patrols on Linden Drive and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
He then stepped through Siegel’s flowerbeds, rested his gun on Miss Hill’s windowsill and fired at the mobster, is is alleged. He later covered his tracks and was never found out.
When asked why he has finally decided to break his silence over Siegel’s death, Robbie, who was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2007, replied: ‘Everyone’s been wondering for 67 years. I mean, why not?’
Robbie passed away in July 2014 following the interview with Los Angeles magazine. Despite the claims Larry Gragg, a professor of history at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, says that the case still remains open.
In an article he wrote for the Mob Museum in July 2022, he muses: ‘There is more to learn about the Siegel murder in Crime Case #46176 in the Beverly Hills Police Department. Unfortunately, because the Siegel case is an open one, researchers cannot view the file.’