Holder reiterates resolve to find killer of Seattle federal prosecutor
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sought the public's help Wednesday in solving the decade-old slaying of Seattle-based federal prosecutor Thomas Wales.
Seattle Times staff reporters
The Department of Justice is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the slaying of Thomas Wales. Tips can be submitted by phone, mail or email:
Phone: 1-800-CALL FBI
Mail: FBI — Thomas Wales, P.O Box 2755, Seattle, WA 98111
A website with information on the case can be found at www.fbi.gov/wales
Seeking Information in 2001 Murder of Tom Wales
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asked for the public's help Wednesday in solving the decade-old slaying of Seattle-based federal prosecutor Thomas Wales, putting his weight as the nation's chief law-enforcement officer behind a push to unravel one of the FBI's most frustrating cases.
"Tom was a dedicated public servant, a committed advocate, and a loving father and friend. Although this case remains unsolved, and Tom's killer remains unknown, our resolve to uncover the truth ... has never been stronger," Holder said at a news conference in a conference room dedicated to Wales' memory.
Wales' daughter, Amy, 32, flanked by her brother, Tom, read an emotional letter written to her father.
"There are people out there who know who killed you," she said, and appealed for them to come forward.
"If they can summon the courage, I will promise to advocate for their safe harbor, and when they come forward they will know me by my gratitude and my compassion. And so to those with information, however small it may be, please help us. I beg you to find the courage in your heart to right this wrong.
"If you'd like to meet, I will sit with you, and I will speak with you. I will share stories with you, so you know that he was not just an anonymous somebody. He was our father."
Holder was in Seattle specifically to appeal for public help in solving the homicide, a demonstration that the Department of Justice is still keen to find Wales' killer.
Also at the news conference were Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, whose detectives are working with the FBI, and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Mayor Mike McGinn, Councilmember Tim Burgess, former U.S. Attorney Mike McKay and former Mayor Greg Nickels also attended.
Scattered through the back of the room were a number of Wales' colleagues.
The media campaign, tied to the 10-year anniversary in hopes of jogging people's memories, will include TV and newspaper ads and the use of social media such as Twitter and the FBI's Facebook page. The FBI opened a new Website, www.fbi.gov/wales, to gather tips.
The site says profilers at the FBI's Behaviorial Analyst Unit (BAU) believe publicity around the 10-year anniversary could trigger reactions in the person responsible for the crime, or someone who knows something about it.
"The anniversary and renewed media attention could prompt a reaction in anyone involved in the homicide," said Susan Kossler, the BAU special agent assigned to assist with the case.
"He may appear tense or uneasy. He may make unexpected or inappropriate comments about the murder or about Wales," Kossler wrote. The killer might be preoccupied with the case and want to talk about it constantly, she said, or the very mention of it might make him shut down.
"Any stronger than normal reaction, any significant deviation from the norm is what people should be looking for," Kossler said.
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said the message to the public is: "What you know may matter."
The Oct. 11, 2001, shooting in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood was overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks, and the case did not receive the attention many in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle thought appropriate. It took a push by Wales' colleagues and a new U.S. attorney for the case to be assigned the status it has now.
However, while the investigation now holds what the bureau calls "major case status" — including dedicated staffing, funding and a name, "SEPROM" (an acronym for Seattle Prosecutor Murder) — it stalled not long after Wales, 49, was found, gravely wounded, at the computer in his basement after neighbors heard gunshots.
There remains a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Greg Fowler, the special inspector from the FBI's Portland office now overseeing the investigation, said the agents are convinced that someone, somewhere, has a piece of information that will crack the case. That someone might not even know they know it, he said.
"The example that Tom set throughout his life, and the uncertainty surrounding his death, must not — and will not — be forgotten," Holder said. "And, today, his work — to advance the cause of justice and to protect public safety — is now ours to carry forward."
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