The Playboy Murders is examining the unsolved murders of Hollywood nightclub doorman Michael Tardio and his friend Christopher Monson, who were shot dead in the neighborhood district of Studio City in Los Angeles, California.
Tardio was the boyfriend of Playboy model and celebrity Sandy Bentley, who had become famous alongside her sister Mandy Bentley after the pair appeared on a cover of Playboy magazine. The Bentley twins had spent time living with Hugh Heffner at his mansion between 1999 and 2000.
After leaving the Playboy mansion, Bentley became involved with Wall Street wizz kid and Ponzi schemer Mark Yagalla.
Yagalla was convicted in 2002 of stealing $50 million of his clients’s money and was sentenced to five years in federal jail.
Yagalla had showered his girlfriend, Bentley, with numerous expensive gifts, including cars, jewelry, watches, furs, and housing, all of which added up to about $6 million.
The federal authorities and a court-appointed receiver ordered Bentley to return some of the gifts in an attempt to recoup some of the losses incurred by Yagalla.
Michael Tardio wanted to sell ill-gotten jewelry for girlfriend, Playboy star Sandy Bentley
In the meantime, Bentley had started dating Tardio, and the cops suspect he persuaded his girlfriend to let him sell some of the jewelry before the authorities could seize it.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
Tardio recruited his friend Monson to help him sell about $750,000 worth of jewelry. The police believe that they had set up a meeting with a so-called potential buyer, but these individuals then shot dead and robbed Tardio and Monson.
The two victims were found on September 2, 2002, in a burnt-out Mercedes SUV. Their charred remains had been riddled with bullets.
Cops suspect killers in the Playboy Murders were from the Hollywood nightclub scene
So far, the murders have remained unsolved. Tardio had worked at the Garden of Eden nightclub, and both men were prominent figures within the Hollywood nightclub scene and the police believe the killers may have also been a part of that scene. Tardio had not advertised the jewelry sale but had relied on word of mouth.
In 2011, the LAPD took a fresh look at the case, appealing for witnesses to come forward and offering a reward of $75,000 for information. At the time, LAPD Detective Dennis English told reporters, “We believe the nucleus of this case is around the Garden of Eden.”
English also said, “There are people who knew something but maybe were fearful. We hope now they’ve matured.”
Yagalla and Bentley were not considered suspects in the murders.
The Playboy Murders airs Monday at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.