Friends and family of a well-known Elvis tribute artist are hopingt detectives will finally be able to close a double homicide case from 1993. So far, the murders of Dana Mackay and Mary Huffman haven’t produced any arrests.
The homicides of Mackay, an Elvis performer, and Huffman, a former beauty queen, made national headlines as police explored several possible motives for what looked like a professional hit.
MacKay looked like Elvis, sang like Elvis and was widely regarded as the best Elvi of his era. He was the first Elvis tribute artist hired by the long-running “Legends in Concert” show on the Strip, and often took his act on the road, even to other countries.
Like his idol, MacKay had a lot of girlfriends, but former Mrs. Nevada Mary Huffman, a blonde beauty, is the one who lived with MacKay at the sprawling home they called mini Graceland. When their bullet-riddled bodies were found in the house in Oct. 1993, the tale proved an irresistible lure for national tabloid TV shows.
“It was this cry that I can’t even explain to you,” said Misty Vargas. “It was so terrible. Anybody who has ever heard a mother mourn for her child knows what I am talking about.”
MacKay’s daughter, Misty Vargas, was a youngster at the time, but remembers hearing her grandmother’s gut wrenching wail when she got news of the murders. These days, Misty is a mom herself, living in Elko, and is now 37, the same age as her father when he was killed. She is frustrated because the case is still open.
“Because I know exactly who did it, and I know the cops know exactly who did it, but he’s allowed to get away with it because of his connections,” Vargas said.
“I have no doubt in my mind, beyond a shadow of a doubt I am positive who had this done,” said Danny Koker, a friend of Dana MacKay.
Koker was MacKay’s best friend. The I-Team interviewed him at his custom car shop in 2009, before he landed his own TV show on the history channel. Koker says police originally theorized the two were murdered because they walked in on a burglary, but the only item missing from the house was a cache of documents that MacKay always carried.
“There was money in the house. There was jewelry in the house, but the only thing that was MIA was the file,” Koker said. “You know, there is nothing valuable to a burglar about paper. You can’t go to the pawn shop and sell it.”
Someone initially told police that MacKay was involved in drug trafficking but when a cold case detective met with Koker years later, that theory had been ruled out.
“I told him years ago, the department told me it was a drug deal gone bad and this and that. He looked at me and said no. There were no drugs in Dana’s house. there were no drugs in Dana’s system.”
At the time of his murder, Dana MacKay was embroiled in a bitter legal dispute with his partners in a landscaping business. MacKay had a connection in California where he bought palm trees at a discount price and hoped to make a big score because of a planned beautification project on the Strip. MacKay’s friends and family say he’d received death threats.
One of his partners was former car dealer, now custom home developer Tim Stonestreet. police learned that Stonestreet was in Aruba when the murders occurred. Stonestreet’s lawyer in 2009, John Spilotro told the I-Team his client had been “cleared” of any involvement in the killings and that police should focus on MacKay’s drug connections instead.
Law enforcement sources familiar with the contents of the case file told the I-Team there are strong indications this was a murder-for-hire plot. Someone paid the killers to do a job on MacKay. Detectives have interviewed at least two prison inmates, one of whom is serving a life term for an unrelated murder for hire job.
Also in the file, speculation about whether there could be a link to another sensational crime — the kidnapping of Kevyn Wynn, daughter of casino mogul Steve Wynn, who was snatched from her home in 1993 and held for ransom, just a few months prior the the MacKay murders. Three men went to prison for the plot, but investigators wonder if a fourth suspect got away.
Cold case investigators remain confident that the murders can be solved with more input from the public. Loved ones already have their minds made up.
“My dad was telling people before he died, if something happens to me, this is the person responsible,” Vargas said.