Al Bramlet Murder: Where Are Tom and Gramby Hanley Now?

Image Credit: Las Vegas Review Journal

In February 1977, Al Bramlet, an influential labor union leader in Las Vegas, was abducted and murdered. His body was later discovered in a remote area, bearing signs of a brutal execution. The case sent shockwaves through the community, highlighting the dangerous undercurrents in the world of labor disputes and organized crime during that era. In Investigation Discovery’s ‘Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?’ episode, ‘The Hitman’s Wife,’ the events preceding Bramlet’s death and the subsequent apprehension of the killer have been thoroughly investigated.

Al Bramlet Disappeared From the Airport and Was Later Found Dead

Elmer “Al” Bramlet was born on February 18, 1917, on a small farm near Jonesboro, Arkansas. Seizing an opportunity for a better life, he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. By the 1940s, he had settled in Los Angeles, California, working as a bartender. His involvement with trade unions began during this period when he started working as a business agent for the Culinary Union. In 1946, seeking better employment opportunities, he relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, a city ripe with potential for someone in his line of work.

Image Credit: Mayhem in the Desert

Bramlet became pivotal in the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas. His leadership transformed the union into one of the most influential labor organizations in the city. Bramlet was known for his relentless efforts to secure better wages, improved working conditions, and comprehensive benefits for his members, who primarily worked in the burgeoning hotel and casino industries. Under his guidance, the union’s membership grew from 1500 to 22,000, and he played a crucial role in negotiating significant labor contracts that benefited thousands of workers. Bramlet’s aggressive tactics and strong negotiating skills earned him both admiration and controversy, but his impact on the labor movement in Las Vegas was undeniable.

By the 1970s, Bramlet had become the unopposed leader of the union. Under him, the legendary 1976 strike against the hotels on the Las Vegas Strip took place, marking a significant labor victory. On February 24, 1977, he was returning from a union-related trip to Reno, Nevada, and landed at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. He called his daughter around 4:30 pm and told her he would get home shortly, but he never made it home. His disappearance became national news, prompting a widespread search effort.

On March 18, 1977, two hikers along the desert near Potosi Mountain in Nevada noticed something unusual beneath a shallow pile of rocks. When they investigated, they discovered a dead body and immediately informed the police. The police were able to identify the body as that of Al Bramlet and promptly told his family. Bramlet had been shot six times, once in each ear, and had succumbed to his injuries.

An Anonymous Tip Led to The Capture of Al Bramlet’s Killers

The police began their investigation at the site where Al Bramlet’s body had been found. There were very few clues for the police to go ahead with and little to no evidence linking anyone to the scene. This was when the police got a tip from a man named Clem Eugene Vaughn, who told them that Tom Hanley and his son, Gramby Hanley, had kidnapped Bramlet from the airport. Vaughn stated that Bramlet was handcuffed, gagged, and placed in a car that Vaughn was driving. He further claimed that they took Bramlet to a remote location in the desert, where he witnessed Tom shooting Bramlet in the backseat before burying him in a shallow grave.

Image Credit: Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

Due to his confession, Vaughn received immunity for his involvement in the crime. The police discovered that the motive behind Bramlet’s murder was far more complicated than they had initially imagined. Between 1975 and 1977, Las Vegas was plagued by a series of bombings targeting hotels on the Strip. These bombings were part of a broader campaign of intimidation and violence orchestrated to leverage union demands. Allegations surfaced that Bramlet had been involved in organizing these bombings as a way to strengthen the Culinary Workers Union Local 226’s position against hotel management.

Vaughn suggested that Bramlet had hired Tom and Gramby to carry out similar bombings at the Village Pub and Starboard Tack, but the police thwarted these plans before they could be executed. Bramlet had promised the duo a total sum of $17,000 for their efforts, paying $7,000 upfront and pledging to pay the remaining $10,000 upon successful completion. However, due to the mission’s failure, Bramlet refused to pay the remaining sum and the duo decided to kill him. This refusal to settle the debt ultimately resulted in his brutal murder.

Tom Hanley is No Longer Alive, and Gramby Hanley is Not Publicly Active Today

Gramby Hanley

On April 29, 1977, both Tom and Gramby Hanley were arrested by the police in Phoenix, Arizona. Initially, they denied any involvement in Al Bramlet’s murder. However, in June 1977, the police produced substantial evidence, including Bramlet’s items recovered from Tom’s house. Despite making various appeals to prove their innocence, the evidence against them was overwhelming. On March 2, 1978, they changed their plea from not guilty to guilty and entered a plea deal with state prosecutors.

They agreed to come clean about their involvement in the 1975-1977 bombings and testified against various union leaders who were instrumental in escalating the violence at the time. Both received life sentences without the possibility of parole on the charges of kidnapping and murder of Bramlet. However, they negotiated to serve their time in a federal prison in San Diego rather than the Nevada State Prison in Carson City, where their lives were at risk. In 1979, Tom died in jail. Gramby eventually entered a federal witness protection program and remained under the radar for several years. In 1982, he resurfaced to testify about illegal trade activities before a U.S. Senate panel and has since remained elusive.

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