Three suspicious deaths from 1963 have lingering questions by Tamara Pettit
I didn’t expect much when I started researching George Paul’s suicide. It was the third death listed in the cryptic “Letter from a Dead Man” on the back of the Christmas card. Dad never focused much on it, only to say “Chucky” Paul committed suicide. He always felt it really wasn’t a suicide or if it was it was one where Chucky was given no choice. In fact as I look at his notes, all I see beside 11-30-63 WV 80-022 is “Chucky Paul.”
That’s why I was stunned when I searched newspapers from 12-2-63. (11-30-63 was a Saturday night; there was no Sunday Weirton Times; so I figured the obituary would be in Monday’s paper.) The story was on the front page. “Former Weirton Policeman Dies in Public Phone Booth.” George Paul, 48, a well-known former Weirton policeman had shot himself in the head in the phonebooth in Krogers parking lot at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night. There were two witnesses.
According to the story, Paul had left the Weirton police force twelve years prior to his suicide and moved to Las Vegas where he was working as a security guard at the Sand’s Hotel & Casino. He had just returned home to visit family in Weirton. Paul’s brother Nick called the Weirton Police Department just prior to George’s death saying he had received a call from George who was despondent. Within minutes a second call was received by a passerby who said a man was in a phone booth and was thought to have had a heart attack.
The story refers to Paul as known to many in the Weirton community and a popular policeman. The coroner’s jury was scheduled to be impaneled later that week and would include the testimony of two women who had seen the incident occur. The East Liverpool reported on December 7 that the Coroner’s Jury ruled that Paul died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound. The weapon was a 38 caliber gun.
The obituary lists both George and his wife living in Cleveland, yet he was working at the Sands. Like most of the Casinos in Vegas at the time, the Sands was owned by the mob. In the case of the Sands, it was Myer Lansky, a member of the Bonanno family.
There you have it, the three deaths listed and the dates of their death. Where do I go next?? Can the license plates be identified after all these years. While I have the Coroner’s files, do the police files still exist and if so, can I get a look at them. Finally, what commonality links the three deaths because I believe that is the key to the mystery of what Lawrence Wise was trying to tell somebody.