Did Disgraced Cop Kill Boxing Champ Sonny Liston?

'So, you've come to ask me if I killed Sonny Liston'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2016 3:36 PM CDT
Snitch Says Sonny Liston Was Murdered by Disgraced Cop
Sonny Liston lands a body blow to Muhammad Ali in 1965. Police say Liston overdosed on heroin in 1970, but was he actually murdered by a disgraced cop?   (AP Photo/File)

"So, you've come to ask me if I killed Sonny Liston," a large tattoo-covered man asks the ESPN writer standing at his door outside Las Vegas. That writer, Shaun Assael, has written a book called The Murder of Sonny Liston, and the Undefeated has an excerpt. It's widely accepted that Liston, a former heavyweight boxing champ, died from an accidental heroin overdose in 1970. But some Vegas "bookies, mobsters, and cops" still wonder if he wasn't murdered. Vegas police sergeant Gary Beckwith was called out of bed in the middle of the night back in 1982 to meet with a man named Irwin Peters. Peters was a former snitch for the police who had worked with a cop named Larry Gandy. Now he wanted to inform on Gandy.

Gandy was an old-time cop who inspired awe in his coworkers but left the force after a police brutality lawsuit. Peters told Beckwith that Gandy then turned to a life of crime, robbing drug dealers and burglarizing houses using his real estate appraiser's licence while doing a Daffy Duck impression to hide his identity. He also said Gandy "bragged" about killing Liston by shooting him up with heroin. Beckwith didn't put much stock in Peters' story—until he started digging into it. Addresses given by Peters matched up with open cases, and a number of victims recalled a suspect who sounded like Daffy Duck. That's how, many years later, Assael found himself at Gandy's front door, asking about the former champ. Read the full story here. (More Longform stories.)

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