Sunday, August 1, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Kidnapping Dims Dazzle In Las Vegas -- $1.5 Million Paid To Free Daughter Of Casino Owner


LAS VEGAS - When he was a small boy, Steve Wynn was dazzled by the bright lights of the glitzy Las Vegas Strip.

Now, a powerful gaming magnate, he has come face to face with the dark side of the dazzle.

He answered a phone last week at his $730 million Mirage Hotel and Casino and a voice politely uttered a chilling statement:

"Mr. Wynn, we have your daughter."

His 26-year-old daughter, Kevin, had been kidnapped from her town house in a luxury community guarded by gates. Her kidnappers demanded a ransom that has been reported between $2 million and $2.5 million.

Details of the kidnapping, a ransom payment of about $1.5 million and the safe recovery of Kevin Wynn two hours after the call are just beginning to break through the secrecy that has shrouded the case. The family has not talked to reporters.

But life will never be the same for Wynn's family, his wife Elaine, and daughters Kevin and Gillian.

No arrests have been made, although the FBI and Las Vegas Metro Police report dozens of leads and believe three people may have been involved.

An FBI spokesman has all but ruled out an inside job. Rumors are rampant on the street, running the gamut from a couple of opportunistic crooks to someone trying to frighten the aggressive business tycoon.

The FBI and state gaming enforcement officials warned casino executives last week to rethink their security arrangements. Few cities have so much cash so readily available.

Wynn proved that Monday night when he went to the casino cage at the Mirage Hotel, his flashy showplace on the Las Vegas Strip, and withdrew $1.5 million in cash to pay the ransom.

He was instructed to drive to Sonny's Saloon, a block from the Mirage. He could not do so because of a degenerative eye disease, so an employee dropped off the money.

The cash was picked up by two men and Kevin Wynn's location was then revealed. She was found bound and gagged but otherwise unharmed on the back floor of her car in the parking lot at McCarran International Airport, four miles from her home.

Wynn, 52, first came to Las Vegas at the age of 10,, gaping at the neon lights. Wynn's Mirage helped transform the Strip, touching off a $1 billion building boom in the late 1980s that made Las Vegas the nation's fastest-growing city.

Wynn now is building the $430 million Treasure Island resort, next to the Mirage, which, ironically, is intended to share in Las Vegas' growing family market.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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