America’s Most Wanted tip leads to collar
On February 27, 1998, Tony Ray Amati made a top ten list. Not the Letterman list, the FBI list. He was named a FBI top 10 most wanted criminal. He is one of the more unusual serial killers in recent memory.
In early 1996, a 19-year-old Amati, along with older accomplices Troy Sampson and Edward Jones robbed a gun store in Las Vegas, Nevada. They removed $30,000 cash and about 75 guns and were seemingly able to get away with the crime. Then things took an unusual and deadly turn.
Amati, potentially accompanied with Sampson and Jones approached a homeless man in a Las Vegas parking lot on May 27, 1996. Apparently unprovoked, they fired 20 rounds into Michael Matta, a 27-year-old homeless man.
They didn’t stop there. On July 28th they killed again. Just blocks from the first scene they randomly shot John Garcia who was working in his garage. Again, there didn’t seem to be any motive for the brutal killing.
The spree continued in August of 1996. The masked trio shot Pizza Hut worker Keith Dyer multiple times for no apparent reason. He also wounded co-worker Stacey Dooley who would later be a significant witness in this homicide. The three laughed and danced around as they pumped bullet after bullet into Dyer. While fleeing Amati cut his hand on the bumper of a car and left a blood trail that investigators found. Responding cops swabbed the blood and submitted it for evidence.
In October, Las Vegas police, unaware of the ties to the murders, made a UC buy of stolen guns. The sellers were Tony Ray Amati, Troy Sampson, and Edward Jones. The cops were able to get a search warrant and recovered 30 firearms from the home of trio. Sampson and Jones were arrested but Amati went on the run. Ballistics comparisons were made from the guns recovered from the search warrant and they matched ballistics from the murders. The hunt for Amati escalated.
Years passed and Amati was no closer to being brought to justice. In 1998, Amati’s case was shown on the then popular TV show, America’s Most Wanted. A tip was quickly called in and passed on to the FBI. On March 1, 1998, the FBI, acting on the tip, arrested Amati in an Atlanta hotel room without incident.
The blood recovered from the Dyer homi was a match for Amati. Unfortunately, the evidence against Samson and Jones just wasn’t sufficient to go to trial. That was not the case for Amati. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.