The bizarre case of the biggest casino mogul in Las Vegas, and the less than brilliant plan to kidnap his daughter.
July 26th, 1993 began as a typical and relatively uneventful day. 26-year-old Kevyn Q. Wynn worked a shift in retail operations at the Mirage Resort, exercised at the Mirage Hotel gym, and then met with her family for dinner. After, she began the drive home to the gated Spanish Trails Country Club in which she lived, ready to relax in preparation for the day ahead.
Around 10 pm she pulled up to her two-bedroom house and nothing, at first, seemed out of place. She gathered her belongings and exited the car. This was when July 26th, 1993 became anything but ordinary and the events that soon transpired would not only shock the surrounding Las Vegas community but negatively impact the lives of all involved for years to come.
In her home, Kevyn was accosted by two men in masks who were ready and waiting for her arrival. Armed with a gun, they taped her eyes shut and forced her to remove everything but her underwear. What happened to Kevin Wynn next was rather strange and not at all what she anticipated. Leaving her unharmed, the men proceeded to photograph her along with the taller of her two assailants, placing sunglasses over her eyes.
The shorter man may have sensed her confusion as he told her, “You are my insurance.” Suddenly, their motive became clear. Kevin was not their primary target; they planned to use both her and her photos as leverage as they contacted her father, wildly successful casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn, to collect on her ransom.
Kevyn put her clothes back on and was tied up, placed in her car, and driven into the darkness of the night. A short time later, around 11 pm, phone calls originating from a local 7-Eleven were made to Steve Wynn, informing him of what he needed to do to ensure his daughter’s safe return.
In 1993 Steve Wynn, chairman of Mirage Resorts Inc., was considered the top-paid Chief Executive within the United States according to Fortune magazine. His job provided him with unparalleled access to multiple, highly profitable casinos, including the Las Vegas-based Mirage and Golden Nugget. In other words, he was an ideal target for those willing to kidnap for a large sum of money. However, as he pulled up to his driveway and answered the kidnappers’ call, he angrily informed them that despite his power and position he did not have ready access to their $2.5 million demand.
Instead, Wynn offered $1.45 million, the amount he had in his casino vault on that night. They agreed and he returned to the Mirage Hotel and Casino, and while still on the phone with the criminals, followed their instructions and walked inside.
Upon Wynn’s request, associates handed him a white plastic bag filled with just shy of one and a half million dollars worth of neatly stacked $100 bills. The bag was heavy, but he later described holding it, “like a baby with his arms around it,” knowing that if anything happened to that money, his daughter’s safety could be in jeopardy.
Wynn dropped off the cash in the parking lot of a saloon one block away before receiving directions to Kevin’s location at McCarran International Airport. Two friends met him there, but he approached her black Audi alone, fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending; after calling her name, she answered back, “Dad, is that really you?”
Alerting the Authorities
It took only 3 hours from the time of Kevin’s attack to her return, and Steve Wynn did not report his daughter’s kidnapping until after paying her ransom. There is some speculation as to the exact reason. It might, of course, be in part because of the compromising photographs of his daughter that the two men threatened to release if he alerted the authorities.
Additionally, it could have been a combination of the reasons he provided in court: “I felt if I used my cellular phone, they could hear me and it would mean her death” and those he offered to an investigator: that he lacked faith in the ability of local police. Whatever the incentive, it appeared to be the right call, as his daughter was returned to him, alive. Unfortunately, many similar cases have had a different and all too tragic ending.
Ray Cuddy: The Kidnapping Mastermind
The mastermind behind Kevin’s kidnapping was Ray Marion Cuddy. Cuddy was a retired circus performer who worked the blackjack tables and managed health clubs in Newport Beach and Las Vegas. He was known for his expensive taste in sports cars, as well as his daily use of alcohol, cocaine, and various hallucinogens. Unfortunately, with these tendencies rarely don’t lead to problems.
Cuddy liked to spend money but he was broke; in fact, he was in debt. Although he had been awarded $500,000 for charges against an ex-business partner, Cuddy never received these funds as an appeal resulted in a reversed judgment. He survived in the meantime by borrowing money from friends, one of them being Spyro Kemble. The bad news for Cuddy was that Kemble eventually wanted his money back. It was just two weeks before the crime when Kemble contacted Cuddy with this request.
Cuddy left home the day of Kevin’s attack, telling his son he was going “to pay off a friend.” After collecting the ransom, Cuddy went to Newport Beach, California where Kemble lived. He used Kemble’s credit card to cover a room at the Marriott, and it was Kemble’s Mercedes that Cuddy was driving when he was later apprehended by the police.
Spyro Kemble: The Suspected Driver
There is a reason to believe that Spyro Kemble was the one who dropped Kevin Wynn at the airport for discovery following the payment of her ransom. Further, a search of his Newport home unearthed $500,000 of the ransom money. He also accompanied Cuddy as he purchased a $200,000 Ferrari Testarossa just days after the crime. It was during the last cash payment for the car that law enforcement arrested Cuddy; Kemble was not with him at the time of his arrest.
Surprisingly, investigators failed to pursue leads on any potential involvement Kemble may have had in the case; instead, he testified on behalf of the prosecution. The FBI focused on bringing charges against accomplices of Cuddy’s who were later convicted: Jacob Sherwood and Anthony Watkins. Evidence linked to Kemble was all but forgotten.
Jacob Sherwood and Anthony Watkins: Confirmed Accomplices
It was Ray Cuddy and Jacob Sherwood who physically assaulted and photographed Kevin Wynn. Anthony Watkins sat in a parked car at a fast-food restaurant keeping an eye out for trouble. At first, it appeared to be a relatively well-thought-out plan, but upon closer inspection, evidence of the men’s involvement became glaringly apparent from all angles.
A taxi driver identified Cuddy as one of the two men he observed making phone calls at a 7-Eleven that night. Investigators traced the source of the calls made to Steven Wynn to that same business. Further, surveillance showed Cuddy’s car exiting the parking lot where Kevin Wynn was found less than half an hour before her discovery. Even further damning, the installments for Cuddy’s Ferarri had included large sums of $100 bills, the same type of currency provided in the ransom, and in the car he drove to the dealership was an unloaded gun.
Cuddy’s arrest took place at the beginning of August, but Sherwood and Watkins were not picked up until late September. Lawyers earned convictions for each in May of 1994, for charges such as extortion and money laundering among others related to Kevin Wynn’s abduction and ransom. Although Sherwood’s legal representatives pointed the finger at Spyro Kemble, a logical choice, their attempts to direct blame away from their client were ultimately unsuccessful.
Where Are They Now?
Anthony Watkins received a 6-and-a-half year prison term which started in 1994. Sherwood’s release came in 2010. Cuddy remained in jail until 2015, after which he entered a Las Vegas-based federal halfway house for supervised release.
He cannot legally come into contact with either Kevin Wynn or her family. He cannot approach them, their homes, or their businesses at distances closer than 500 feet. These protective measures may be wise, as he has been seen riding up and down the Strip on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a route which takes him past the expansive and luxurious resorts affiliated with the Wynn family. Then again, all those years in prison may have become a strong deterrent to any future criminal activity.
Many may wonder why Cuddy, reformed or not, would return to Las Vegas at all. As the scene of his crimes, reminders of his previous life surely exist on every street corner. That is a good question.
Cuddy’s lawyer, Mitchell Posin, believes it was somewhat out of his control; inmates are typically discharged in the same location as their conviction, barring any special requests and Cuddy, who had limited connections before his imprisonment may want to remain close to the few family members or friends he has left.
When asked his opinion further as to whether or not Cuddy remains a threat to the Wynn family, Posin claimed: “He had no malice towards them, this was all business for him. I sure don’t see him as any danger to the Wynns.” Likely, for Kevin and her father who remain robbed forever of the safety and comfort most take for granted within their own homes, his past actions, whether or not done in malice, were damaging enough.
In the News Again
Over the years, Steve Wynn went on to become more and more successful in the business world; he created Wynn Resorts, his own casino and hotel enterprise sixteen years ago and soon after secured, and has since maintained, a spot on Forbes list of billionaires.
Recently, however, the patriarch of the Wynn family has again had his image plastered all over the news, and this time, he is no victim. In fact, The Wall Street Journal has reiterated this fact as dozens of individuals have come forward with details of inappropriate conduct of Mr. Wynn against them.
Despite denying these charges as “preposterous,” in February of 2018 Steve Wynn relinquished his position as CEO and Chairman of Wynn Resorts. Not long after, he sold all his shares within the company. His now ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, has held onto hers. Though experts estimate that Steve Wynn is still worth around $3 billion, one is left to wonder whether or not this sizeable profit came at a much higher cost.