Why Do All Roads--Even Those With Blood Stains--Lead To Las Vegas?

 What do the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Luby’s Café killer George Hennard, the murder of rap musician Tupac Shakur, O.J. Simpson and the Kent State shooting by National Guardsmen have in common?

Each of those events has a connection to Las Vegas. And it’s more than a tangential link, more than the fact that someone who died, watched people die, or committed a crime was just passing through Las Vegas.

Six degrees of Las Vegas? More like one or two degrees.

"We’re like mandatory stop for anyone on a killing spree,' said John L. Smith, Las Vegsa Review-Journal columnist. "We’ve got an exit that says killers and bank robbers exit here.”

There are more, of course: Jimmy Hoffa, John Wayne Gacy, Gianni Versace, Patty Hearst and even Rambo, otherwise known as Bo Gritz.

There may be no other city in the country or world with that kind of infamous pedigree.

The real question is: why?

Nevada, said UNLV historian Michael Green, "appears to be a magnet for those kinds of people because there’s no other state like it."

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Green, Smith and Larry Dale Gragg, author of "Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture", joked that Las Vegas marketing gurus might not look to some of the less savory aspects of the city to sell it to tourists.

Yet, people are definitely drawn by the gentle prospect of danger, said Larry Dale Gragg, history professor and author of 2013's "Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture".

"The idea that you might bump into a mobster still appeals to some people," said Gragg, who has visited Las Vegas 56 times.


Michael Green, professor of history, UNLV

John L. Smith, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Larry Dale Gragg, professor of history and political science, Missouri University of Science and Technology; author of “Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture”

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