Robert McGuigan Talks of How Gambling Killed His Son – Part III of This Woo Report

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Robert McGuigan Talks of How Gambling Killed His Son – Part III of This Woo Repo International Correspondent Jenny Woo concludes her riveting report on Robert McGuigan and how gambling addiction ultimately lead to his son’s untimely death.  This is Part III of the series. 

Part I can be found here

Part II can be found here

Robert: She said she was sorry for what she did. I said, “I know you are.” But at the same time, where my head was at I said, “Yeah a little late.” That was the reality of the situation.

For 3 years Jenny, I was a basket case. I started drinking heavily. I started to pull away even from my friends and just had a hell of a time coping. Finally one day, it was like a light went off like it did before when I was playing cards, it was time to quit. The light went on and they said, “Robert, this is not what Jason wants. He would not want this and you have to do something in regards to him in his memory.”

It took me over 5 years after his death that I was able to visit his grave. I put everything away that we used to do, the football games, the fishing and everything else. It was just too hard on me. But now I can. I’m over that.

JENNY: Good.

ROBERT: It wasn’t until 2006 when I thought, “You know. I gotta do something in memory of the boy. I don’t want this to happen to some other kid.” That’s when I started speaking about gambling addiction. I ran into an organization outside of the city on gambling and realized, “Oh my God. All the signs were there. He’s missing school. He’s not getting sleep. He’s not being with his friends. Spending more time on the computer. Playing the games and doing the betting.”

Had the education been there in the schools – and I’m talking middle school and high school, which we don’t have. Had there been education there - because had I learned a little bit more and had known more at that time - then maybe I would have been able to help my son. I would have been able to see some of those signs had there been some education in place. There wasn’t and there still isn’t 10 years later.

JENNY: The awareness isn’t there yet.

ROBERT: Yes, the awareness of the addiction. You have high schools, middle schools, and colleges throughout the United States that have programs already in place for alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex addiction, bullying. But nothing on gambling and that needs to change.  That’s where I come in.

I finally started realizing and learning more and more about the gambling addiction. I also learned more and more that – “My God what is happening to our youth and to our kids?” I was starting to realize then and that’s why I said earlier, “I can close my eyes right now and I can see my son throwing those dice.” I can see now the signs that yes he was addicted at that time. He had that addictive personality just like his dad and just like his uncle.

More and more I started going to conferences across the country. I started doing more speaking. I started learning more and more about the addiction. This is scaring me Jenny. I’m so scared for our youth because they have not been taught. They are not being taught the other side of the coin, the darker side of the gambling, and what can happen. How you can become addicted. How it can start with a game of cards and go from a game of cards to horses to the parlay to the bookie or from that pair of dice to the Blackjack tables to the gambling to the bookies to the betting.

Then there’s the 19 year old that killed him. He was addicted. Do I blame him? I hurt inside. I’d like to talk to that man and ask, “Why? Over a bet?”

JENNY: So you had not been able to talk to him?

ROBERT: No. He hung himself the morning of the trial so there was never a trial. Three kids were murdered and it was premeditated all over an offshore bet through the Internet.

JENNY: Can you tell us a little bit more about what exactly happened? Was it your son owing money to this 19-year-old kid? Was it this 19-year-old kid getting greedy and wanting your son’s money?

ROBERT: I’m going to step back a bit here to what was happening with Jason during that period of time. What ended up happening Jenny was when Jason was 19, he started betting. At that point there was a lot of communication between family members so he was old enough that he was betting with my brother. My brother is saying, “Now you have to pay me. Different ballgame.” Well apparently Jason decided not to pay. So my brother cut him off. Jason then went to another bookie. Got cut off. Went to another bookie. Got cut off. The reason he was getting cut off was because he wasn’t paying the bookies. I wonder where he learned that from.

JENNY: Your brother.

ROBERT: Yup. So now he’s cut off and needs that fix. Well he’s getting that fix from the Internet. All of these sites that you can go to. All of these different bets that you can pay $25 - $50 to and get the bet of the week. You can get this play of the week. This is the play on sports today for baseball, football, or basketball. We’re going to give you the odds and the spreads. Well he was getting all of these. Then he was doing the offshore betting. He got hooked up through the Internet with the offshore betting.

He ran into a 19-year-old student (Meng-Ju Wu) from the UW at the casino’s Blackjack table who knew nothing about sports betting. He didn’t even know the sports teams. My son was teaching him how to sports bet. What does he do? He set the kid up. Each of them had an account and had money in those accounts. He was supposed to place a bet between the Pittsburg Pirates and the Cleveland Indians. Prior to my son meeting him, which was only 6 weeks before the murders took place – he only knew the kid for 6 weeks – the kid had already burned through over fifty thousand dollars that he had in his checking account for college. Jenny how many kids do you know that are 19 years old that are going to the University that have fifty thousand in their checking account or more?

JENNY: None.

ROBERT: Exactly. He had over seventy something thousand. So what had happened was he lost over fifty thousand at the tables up at the Ho-Chunk and he was trying to win back the money that he was losing. He thought the way out was with Jason. Jason started showing him how to place the bets. He set him up an account offshore. They knew each other’s passwords, they knew the account number, they knew the whole nine yards.

Going back to the point of the murders. Jason was supposed to call in on the baseball game between the Pittsburg Pirates and the Cleveland Indians. For some reason – the money was already in the accounts – no money was changing hands at all, which is not what you’re led to believe through the media. So the bet wasn’t placed.

What was happening with Meng-Ju Wu was his parents were already alarmed what he had previously gone through before meeting my son. They were concerned with his loses and where that money was going. They knew he had a gambling problem. They were flying into Madison and they were in the country to buy a business. They were extremely wealthy. They had already purchased him a one-way ticket back to Taiwan. They were pulling him out of school and they were taking him back to Taiwan because he had a gambling problem.

In reality what happened in terms of the murder the police theorized – because this never went to trial – they theorized what he had done was he waited for the kids to come home from the casino that Wednesday evening. He waited for them to come back to the house with the intent of basically robbing and killing them. It was all a premeditated murder because when Jason and the two young men got back to the house – again the police theorized – he was already in the house waiting. The doors were unlocked, he was a welcomed guest and he was known by the other two kids. But they think he was already in the house and waiting because Jason dropped the two kids off at his house and then went to his girlfriend’s for 2 hours. This is when the kids went in the house. They figured that one was sleeping on the couch and the other young man was sleeping on the floor. They were able to determine – of course the time of deaths approximately – that while the kids were sleeping that he went and shot the young man on the couch first and made sure he was dead. When he fired the shot the young man that was sleeping on the floor jumped up and he shot him, he started to run and he shot him again and of course he fell down and died. He then waited approximately 2 hours until Jason got home. Jason came in a different entrance, he sees the kids dead on the floor, and the blood and everything on the couch. He (Meng-Ju Wu) went and confronted Jason when Jason walked into his bedroom.

There was another side room to the bedroom - another bed and everything. That’s where they figured he was waiting. When Jason came home, Jason was known to also carry a large amount of cash on him, which is where the robbery motive comes into play and he confronted Jason and shot him twice.

Again during the investigation when they arrested him in New York, he had almost gotten away with murder. When they arrested him in New York he had a number of a $100 bills and a number of bills in his wallet with Jason’s fingerprints on them. The gun that was used to shoot him, my son and this young man purchased the gun 2 weeks before. My son has never owned a gun and never had a gun. The reason he purchased the gun – my son was driving around in a $60,000 Cadillac Escalade and with $18,000 worth of stereo and TV equipment inside of it. It was customized and he was afraid someone was going to steal it. Him and Meng-Ju Wu went through a town near Madison and Meng-Ju Wu helped him pick out the gun. That was used 2 weeks later to kill Jason.

They caught the young man (Meng-Ju Wu) less than 12 hours to go before he was to leave for Taiwan. The murders happened around Thursday morning in the early hours after they had gotten back from the casino. They didn’t release the names right away of who was killed. They had released the names of the kids that were killed and put the pictures in the paper, which was about 2 days later. It was either late Saturday or Sunday when they released the names. But they found casings from the gun, a banana peel and a receipt from a local grocery store.

What had happened, after the murders were committed was he headed back home and he stopped at a grocery store at the murders. So he’s at Verona, Wisconsin, then he drove to Madison, Wisconsin – to a total of about 4 to 5 miles prior to him getting right when he got to the grocery store, he walked inside and purchased a banana.  He was hungry. They gave it to him in a plastic bag with the receipt in it. He was staying at an apartment in downtown Madison. He got back to his apartment, then drove into the back parking lot, parked his car and then went into his house. Well what he did – he still had the banana peel in that plastic bag. He then took off his sandals that he had been wearing, threw those sandals – brand new pair – in that plastic bag in with the receipt and the banana peel in the plastic bag. The reason he took the sandals off? There was blood spatter from the shooting.  He threw that out in the dumpster behind his apartment building along with part of the case to the 9 mm glock. They found the directions for the glock down in the backseat of a rented limo that his parents had rented when they got into Madison that day. Then on top of that, after he threw all that stuff in the dumpster, he then went around to the front of the building to try and get into the restaurant, which is located right next door but it was locked. They found across the street from where he lived, there was a submarine shop and a Quiznos. Quiznos had a security camera in front of the building. Well that security camera had a view of down in front of the building and also across the street.  They saw him trying to get into the store and then we saw him going up to his apartment. So they were able to determine what clothes he had on and everything else. Then when they released the pictures of the kids that’s when the police detective got a phone call from his daughter who worked at the Copps grocery store. She said, “These kids are always coming in here getting a large amount of money orders.” So they went to Copps grocery store and lo and behold they were able to pull up the film and there he was purchasing the banana.

JENNY: Really?

ROBERT: Yeah it’s amazing. They never did find the gun. Then they released information that they were looking for a couple of vehicles, they had an idea of who had killed them and they were saying they thought he was still in the area. At that point they had already zeroed in who it was. They were on their way to New York to try and catch him before he hopped on a plane to Taiwan. Had he gotten on that plane – they caught him less than 12 hours to go – had he gotten on that plane he would have gotten away with murder.

JENNY: As far as Meng-Ju Wu’s parents, do you know if they knew what their son did and then were trying to hurry up and get him out of the country?

ROBERT: No. They had no inkling. As a matter of fact – what sealed the whole case was that they caught Meng-Ju Wu in a lie. He had said that he was staying at the hotel room the night of the murder. Then when they were interviewing his mother, his mother said, “Oh no no, he didn’t stay here that night. He stayed at his own apartment.” So they caught him in a lie. She didn’t know. They had no idea. No inkling what he had done.

The tickets that they had to fly to New York because that’s where he had been living – he had gone to high school there. He was Taiwanese but he attended high school there. His aunt lived in Queens, New York. He had told his folks that he wanted to spend an extra day with his aunt before he flew to Taiwan. So he went ahead of them from Madison and his parents were going to meet him the next day. So that’s what happened there.

Then the investigation, they had him nailed from one end to the other and then of course he hung himself the morning of the trial. It took over to get him back from New York by extradition. It was like a zoo.

JENNY: Before he hung himself in jail, did he show any remorse? Did he ever try to reach out to you at all?

ROBERT: No. Of course, we had the preliminary hearings and everything else where they have him in court a few times going over stuff. Then of course he pleaded “not guilty” and then the trial was set. But he would not even look at anyone. When he walked into the courtroom in handcuffs and his leg shackled, he never even bothered to look into the gallery at all. He kept his face down the whole time. I would have of course liked to have talked to him but never did. Actually I would have liked to have rung his neck.

JENNY: Of course!

ROBERT: He never said a word. The interesting thing about the whole thing was that he was on suicide watch prior to the trial.

JENNY: Really?

ROBERT: Whatever reason, they released him off of suicide watch.

JENNY: I wonder why that was.

ROBERT: Well after Meng-Ju Wu hung himself in jail and I got the call that morning about an hour before the trial was to begin, it devastated me. You know people say, “It saved the county a lot of money and it saved the state a lot of money by him not having to go to trial.” But wait a minute here. What about me? What about the other families? We never got a trial. We wanted that trial to come. We wanted to see that man found guilty. We wanted to hear the gavel come down and him sentenced to a life in prison. That would have been our closure. We had never gotten that closure. This has hurt all the families. We never got a chance. It’s like he copped out.

JENNY: Well that’s exactly what he did. He couldn’t face and take responsibility for what he did. And the only other decision he had in his mind was to take his own life.

ROBERT: Correct. You go back to your heritage. He had dishonored his family. And by the way, he was their only child. The net worth of that family was 300 million dollars that the police were able to determine over in Taiwan. That’s what they could find.

- Jenny Woo, Senior International Correspondent

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