Family of Murdered Federal Prosecutor Hopes New $2.5 Million Reward, Investigation Catch Killer
In his 18 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle, Thomas Wales never lost a case. But the meticulous, hard-charging prosecutor had a softer side, too. He was a doting father to kids Tom and Amy.
"He was very tender and very sweet and loving as a father, very attentive, compassionate, and just a really good listener too," says Amy, now a parent of two herself. "Our ability to love deeply is a reflection of how we were brought up. And the love we had in our household."
Wales was also the type of father who would read bedtime stories that he'd tweaked so that the female characters were the protagonists as often as the males.
"He was a fantastic girl dad," Amy says in this week's issue of PEOPLE. "He made our childhood magic. He would absolutely protect us, hold us close."
Amy remembers how her father would take her to soccer practice and stop at Dairy Queen on the way home. She also recalled the compassion he showed when they went fishing together and accidentally snagged a sea gull.
"There are waves crashing on the shore and it's dark but my dad was determined to help the sea gull," says Amy. "And he waded out perhaps 50 to 75 yards. A long distance to hold the sea gull and unhook it. He cared deeply about any animal, person who was suffering."
It all came to an earth-shattering end when Amy, then 22 and living in the U.K., got a call that her father — who always made sure everyone else was safe — had himself been killed.
On the evening of Oct. 11, 2001, Wales, 49, was fatally shot inside his family's Seattle home. Authorities believe the shooter, using a Makarov semi-automatic handgun fitted with an aftermarket barrel, crept into his Queen Anne backyard around 10:40 p.m. and fired several shots through a glass window while Wales was writing emails in the basement.
Today, the case has yet to be solved, but federal authorities are hoping to change that. On the 20th anniversary of Wales death, the Department of Justice increased the reward for finding Wales' killer to $2 million, and the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys put up an additional $500,000.
"There are many cases that have been pending for a long time where the public contributes information they might think is insignificant but it actually helps us fill in the last piece of the puzzle," says Nick Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington. "We're hoping that $2.5 million incentivizes people to bring that sort of information forward."
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In addition to the reward, the Department of Justice announced that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington where Wales worked will join the long-established Wales task force of agents and officers from the FBI, the Seattle Police Department and the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
To learn more about the murder of Thomas Wales and the $2.5 million reward, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up the current issue, on newsstands Friday.
For Amy and her brother, Tom, there is continued hope as well as a commitment to see this case through to the end.
"This case is solvable," says Amy. "I think it's important for people to understand if they have information that there are authorities out there, that there are people out there, who will create safe harbors for them and really ensure that they are taken care of.
"I also think it is important that whoever killed my father know that we continue to bring our father's teachings forward, and that Tom Wales is not gone, that his legacy lives on and the strength that I have in me is because of him. And no matter what they thought they could do, they did not destroy Tom Wales' teachings or the love he had for his children."
"My job is to stay strong, and I'll do that lovingly and easily because my dad lives on in me," she says.
If you have information on this case, contact the FBI: 206-622-0460 or firstname.lastname@example.org