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Twenty years after a federal prosecutor was mysteriously gunned down at his Washington home, officials increased the cash reward to $2.5 million for information leading to the capture of his killer, who remains at large.
Thomas C. Wales was shot and killed in his Seattle home on Oct. 11, 2001. The 49-year-old federal prosecutor was shot several times with a handgun through a basement window by an unidentified shooter as he sat at his desk working on his computer. He succumbed to his injuries and died in the hospital the following day.
At the time of his death, Wales worked in the Western District of Washington as an Assistant United States Attorney for more than 18 years. He specialized in white collar crime cases.
On the 20th anniversary of Wales’ murder, officials are hoping a boosted cash reward will renew interest in the case — and encourage someone to come forward with information leading to an arrest.
“The Department of Justice will never forget Tom’s contributions to the department and the cause of justice, nor will we forget the tragedy of his death,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a statement on Monday. “Although two decades have passed, the Department of Justice remains committed to this investigation. Somebody knows something about this murder, and we want to do everything we can to encourage them to come forward now.”
No one has been officially charged in Wales’ death. The case, which is being investigated by a number of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Seattle Police Department, and the Department of Justice, remains open and active.
“The addition of these resources, including attorneys and investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington and FBI, will put the department in the strongest possible position to solve Tom’s murder,” Monaco added.
Wales, who grew up in Southborough, Massachusetts, was also active in a number of civic organizations in Seattle. He served as a member of the Seattle Planning Commission and also sat on the Mayor’s Citizen Advisory Committee. The fraud prosecution lawyer left behind two adult children, officials said.
“Tom Wales was the federal prosecutor and our father,” his son, Tom Wales, said during a media campaign to raise awareness for the cold case investigation in 2001. “His murder remains unsolved and we need your help to find his killer.”
Authorities suspect, however, the federal prosecutor’s murder was likely a revenge hitjob, triggered by a courtroom grudge. In the years since Wales’ killing, the FBI have theorized that a commercial airline pilot hired a drug cartel to carry out the prosecutor’s assassination, the Seattle Times reported.
The pilot, James Anderson, was indicted by Wales in 2000 over the fraudulent alteration of a military helicopter. The case, however, was ultimately dismissed. Anderson later accused Wales of misconduct and sued for compensation of legal fees he incurred, according to the newspaper.
The pilot, who now lives in Delaware, has refrained from publicly commenting on the case. His defense attorney, however, has maintained his client is innocent over the years.
“He is an innocent man and an honest man,” Anderson’s lawyer, Larry Setchell, told the New Yorker in 2007. “Tom Wales was liked by everyone, including us. We were not mad at him.”
A spokesperson for the FBI told Oxygen.com that, "After 20 years, the Seattle Prosecutor Murder Task Force continues to pursue as a top priority the investigation of the murder of federal prosecutor Tom Wales. This joint effort by the FBI, the Seattle Police Department, the Department of Justice, and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office covered thousands of investigative leads. The Task Force encourages anyone with information to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-CALLFBI. We are hoping the doubling of the reward will encourage people to come forward with tips."
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