Federal investigators unable to crack a two-decade cold case involving the murder of Seattle federal prosecutor have upped the reward to $2.5 million.
Thomas Wales, 49, was shot through the basement window of his Queen Anne home on October 11, 2001 by an unidentified shooter.
The reward was upgraded from the previous amount of $1.5 million after 20 years was considered ‘too long’ without any solid information on the murder or the parties responsible.
The announcement to increase the reward was made at the 20th anniversary ceremony at the Tom Wales park, named in his honor, where a Japanese maple tree was planted.
A $2.5 million reward is being offered for more information on the murder of Seattle federal prosecutor Thomas Wales who was killed by an unidentified gunman on October 11, 2001
Wales was an 18-year veteran prosecutor for the Western District of Washington and the president of the gun-control club Washington CeaseFire
Wales was shot several times through his basement window and had died after sustaining fatal injuries to the neck and torso
The handgun used to kill Wales was said to be a Makarov semi-automatic handgun, according to authorities, and had left Wales with fatal injuries to the neck and torso.
A Japanese maple tree, one of Wales’ favorites, was planted in his honor at the Tom Wales memorial park that was opened on the 10th anniversary of his death
Nicholas Brown, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, announced the new reward at the ceremony with $2 million being offered from the Justice Department and the additional $500,000 from the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys.
‘Twenty years is far too long for this crime — this attack on the American justice system — to go unresolved,’ Brown said at the ceremony, according to Fox 13.
Brown is the sixth attorney on the case and believes that ‘fresh eyes’ on the case might help with the investigation.
The Department of Justice also released a statement on the anniversary of Wales’ death.
Nicholas Brown, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, has stated that the 20-year mystery has taken ‘too long’ and needed ‘fresh eyes’ for the case
The reward fund was upgraded to $2.5 million on Monday following an announcement at Wales’ 20th anniversary memorial service
‘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 Monaco said in a press release.
‘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.’
Over the years, there have been multiple theories relating to the murder of Thomas Wales.
Wales was an 18-year-veteran attorney of the Western District of Washington who prosecuted on white-collar crime and the president of gun-control group Washington CeaseFire.
The most prominent theory surrounding Wales’ murder was a revenge hit from a pilot who Wales had prosecuted in a case after he and has business partners had allegedly forged documents and violated FAA safety rules to convert a military helicopter for civilian use
A neighbor said he believed the suspect to be male after he witnessed a suspicious man in the neighborhood weeks before the murder. He was believed to be a hired hitman and described as being in his late 30’s or early 40’s, slim build, black hair, tobacco-stained teeth and a chipped left front tooth
The shooter had snuck into Wales’ backyard and shot several bullets through his basement window where he had been writing emails.
They had used a Makarov semi-automatic handgun, according to authorities, and had left Wales with fatal injuries to the neck and torso.
The FBI have long believed the theory that a pilot who Wales had previously prosecuted for fraud had enlisted the help of a Mexican drug cartel to hire a hitman to kill him, according to the Seattle Times.
The pilot and his business partners were indicted by Wales in September 2000 after they allegedly had forged documents and broke FAA safety rules to alter a military helicopter for civilian use.
Wales was unsuccessful in his prosecution and the case was ultimately dismissed.
The pilot, however, was unsuccessful in seeking damages and claims misconduct by Wales.
The theory continues to state that the pilot was also smuggling drugs for the cartel who ran out of western Washington.
It is believed that the cartel then hired a man who owed money to a drug ring they had ties with to murder Wales.
The alleged hired hitman then enlists another man, coined ‘Suspect #1’ in court documents, to be his lookout.
Shawna Reid, a woman said to be romantically tied to Suspect #1, appeared in court in August of this year and was charged with perjury after lying about information on the murder. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
The pilot, who now lives in Delaware, has denied his involvement in the murder as he claimed he was on the phone at his house when it occurred.
The former girlfriend of a man identified as ‘Suspect #1’ named Shawna Reid claimed that she had more information on the murder as her boyfriend was believed to be on lookout while the murder occurred.
A former distributor for the drug ring named Jeffrey Shauers, 54, provided further information to the FBI on the suspected shooter.
Shauers said that he believes the suspected shooter was a former inmate of his at the McNeil Island Prison in the late 1990’s.
He had befriended the man and had both became involved in the drug cartel business.
Shauers claimed that the man seemed capable of violence and that a 2004 sketch released of the suspected killer matched his former fellow inmate.
The sketch was created following a description from Wales’ neighbor who believes they saw the suspected killer weeks before the murder carrying a black nylon suitcase.
He was described as being in his late 30’s or early 40’s, slim build, black hair, tobacco-stained teeth and a chipped left front tooth.
It was also reported that the killer was seen riding a bicycle after leaving the scene of Wales’ murder.
Shauers and his wife Angela have been continuously interviewed by the FBI over the years but have claimed they have no further involvement with the murder.
The murder investigation remains one of the largest as over 50,000 reports have been put into the case file over the years.
‘The Seattle Prosecutor Murder Task Force continues to pursue as a top priority the investigation of the murder of federal prosecutor Tom Wales,’ a statement from the FBI said.
‘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.’