SEATTLE- Sixteen years after federal prosecutor Thomas Wales was shot to death in his Seattle home, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Wednesday the unsolved occurrence remains a top priority of the Justice Department.
Rosenstein joined other federal and local law enforcement officials in a conference room named for Wales to plead for anyone with knowledge about the killing to come forward. Several big-name law firms and some of Wales’ former colleagues said they were increasing the reward for information to $1.5 million.
“It can not accept for Tom’s family, friends and colleagues to remain in a state of doubts about how he died, ” Rosenstein said. “It can not accept that his murderer remains unpunished.”
Wales, an 18 -year veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle and president of the gun-control group Washington CeaseFire, was shot through a window as he worked in his basement the evening of Oct. 11, 2001. The killing happened at a time when authorities were focused on the terrorist attacks of a month earlier.
Neighbors heard the gunshots and insured a human hustling to a parked vehicle, but no one was ever apprehended. Some shell casings were left with, and while authorities decided the murder weapon to be a Makarov pistol outfitted with a replacement barrel, the gun itself apparently hasn’t turned up.
Several days over the years authorities have pleaded for the public’s help in solving the example, including on some anniversaries of the killing. They’ve taken out advertisements in gun-industry publishings and released a sketch of a human with a chipped front tooth who was find dragging a small, nylon suitcase through Wales’ upscale neighborhood shortly before the shooting.
Jay Tabb, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Washington state, said the investigation remains active. He said a task force served virtually 50 subpoenas in the past year. Examiners have several hypothesis about the case, some of which they’re “very fond of, ” but they can’t resolving the occurrence without assist, Tabb said.
The news conference was “aimed at someones we believe potentially know something about this, ” Tabb said. “People talk; people are not very good at maintaining secrets . … Just a little bit of information could change the outcome of the investigation.”
The FBI has been offering a$ 1 million reward since early in the investigation, but on Wednesday, Mike McKay, president of the National Association of Former United States Attorneys Foundation, announced that several prominent statute firms and individuals were offering an additional $525,000. That included $100,000 apiece from Williams& Connolly, DLA Piper and Perkins Coie.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who served as Seattle U.S. attorney under former President Barack Obama and who knew Wales, pledged $10,000 toward the $ 50,000 gift of her former firm, Quinn Emanuel, McKay said.
A commercial airline pilot was once identified as possible suspect. The pilot had been involved in a business that sought to build civilian helicopters use military portions. Wales had prosecuted the company and the pilot for fraud; the company pleaded guilty, but Wales eventually dropped charges against the pilot.
He has always denied any involvement in the killing.
The case is the subject of a new podcast, “Somebody Somewhere, ” which questioned the FBI’s commitment to finding a murderer. Rosenstein, who was also in Seattle for a forensics seminar Wednesday, said the series was unrelated to the timing of the news conference or the DOJ’s decision to restate its commitment to the investigation.
Amy Wales, the slain prosecutor’s daughter, said she had no doubt about the department’s efforts and commended investigators for their service “at a time when the Justice Department and the FBI are constantly maligned for partisan or self-interested reasons.”
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