Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Stobert "Toby" Holt Case

This was another case that I caught on 48 Hours so I had to do a little research. It was also another case in which I felt some vital information was left out of the story to possibly slant it one way or another.  After watching the 48 Hours I was totally left wondering how Toby Holt was found guilty.  While I still question his guilt, either through research, or maybe I just missed it on the show, I found a little more, but not much.

Robert Wiles, the son of a wealthy business owner, disappeared on April 1, 2008.  Robert was a pilot and high up in ranks at his father's business National Flight Services (NFS) in Lakeland Florida.

Two days after his disappearance Robert's father, Tom received a text message from Robert's phone to check his email.  When he did so he found an email asking for a ransom of $750,000.  The email was signed "Group X."

Toby Holt was the last person to supposedly see Robert Wiles.  Toby Holt also worked for NFS.  He was eventually indicted on 1st degree murder, kidnapping and extortion.  Ultimately he was convicted of MANSLAUGHTER and sentenced to 30 years.  Robert's body has never been found.

The evidence?  The prosecutions biggest evidence that they used in trial was a picture taken of Toby's car at a toll booth on the Florida Freeway.  Toby's cell phone was not active but supposedly Robert's phone was and was coming off the nearby tower at that time.  The picture is unclear and you cannot tell what it is that Toby is doing other than his arm is up.  Toby claims that he was likely taking a drink of something.  Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't.

The prosecution also used a lot of inter-work emails passed between Toby, Robert and other co-workers to show there were issues between Toby and Robert.  They used a timeline of emails and cell phone usage to show actions, or lack there of concerning both Toby and Robert.  

Co-workers stated that it was odd that Toby remained at work past 4:30 that day as he was rather proficient in leaving at that time and it was reported only Robert and Toby's cars remained in the parking lot as the last person left.  Toby claims after leaving work he went to Hooters but there was no video of him entering or exiting and waitresses said they did not recall him.  He said he later went to an Outback but again there is no proof.  There was proof of him entering and exiting a hotel several times that day and the next few. He was staying there.  Prosecutors say that at 8:41pm on April 1st Toby contacted a Home Depot and that at 8:54 someone bought plastic sheeting and two rolls of duct tape with cash.  However, as far as I could tell no one could say that it was Toby that bought these items.

The defense claims that Toby last had contact and/or saw Robert between six and six-thirty on the evening of the 1st.  They agree with the fact that Toby had mistresses but as most defense attorneys do, and should, point out an adulterous does not mean murderer.  They are quick to point out that the amount that was supposedly demanded in the ransom ($750,000) was exactly the amount of money that Tom Wiles had in "kidnapping" insurance through the company and that Robert knew this.  They also had at least one witness who claims that Robert had discussed faking his own kidnapping.

Now, in most of their claims you could look at them as standard defense tactics.  I personally am not so sure.  Through my research I found a site that had a power-point program that was compiled by the FBI to show in court.  Within that program there were some of the inter-work emails.  Prosecutors claimed to show these to show that there was tension between Robert and Toby.  I found it to show that, yes, there was discord among co-workers, but not just with Toby. I took away from those, as well as statements from others, that Robert was all but a "spoiled, rich kid" who truly did not know very much about the business that he was holding a high position in and that he felt entitled to that position because it was his father's company but that he did not do things properly or as others had felt that he should. The defense also pointed out a hairdresser of Robert's who claims to have over heard him talking of the kidnapping insurance and the possibility of faking his kidnapping. 

Prosecutors claim that Toby, as well as Robert and others, knew of the kidnapping insurance and the amount.  This just does not set well with me.  Why would someone who was looking to get even with Robert's father, or was just a deviant person in general ONLY ask for the $750,000 that the insurance covered?  It is kind of like how Jon Benet's parents were asked for the exact amount of her father's bonus in the supposed ransom note.  If you are out to "stick it" to someone, why would you ask for an amount they can recover and if you aren't planning to do that, then why do it at all?  

I also have a problem with the fact that Toby was indicted for first degree murder and yet when convicted he was convicted of manslaughter.  That is as if the jury thought he may have done something but the evidence for it was not there.  If in fact Robert was kidnapped, and as the prosecution claims was murdered, and extortion was involved than would it not seem obvious it was pre-planned and carried out, to which qualifies as 1st degree murder?  There is no doubt that Robert Wiles has never been seen since April 1, 2008.  There is also no doubt that SOMEONE asked for $750,000 for his return.  If you are to believe that this "someone" is Toby why not convicted on 1st degree??  

Every case (past, present and future) in Florida now often seems to be compared to the Casey Anthony trial and I too am guilty of doing that sometimes, and this is one of those cases.  I am floored at how with what little evidence was available in this case that Toby Holt sits in prison while she walks free from all the evidence against her.  

Robert Wiles' body has never been found and if or until it does surface there will  likely still be those who wonder if he is still actually alive.  

21 comments:

  1. Two things I was always wondering about:

    1. When Toby drove through where the camera was and it showed him to possibly be using Roberts phone, if he had it to his ear, wouldnt he be talking to someone? And if so, wouldnt records be able to find who the call was placed to, and then find out from that person about who it was on the other end? Weird that Toby would use the phone to 'talk', which youd have to do if it was to his ear as proclaimed.

    2. If this case gathered such high publicity, if anyone else went into the Hardsware store to purchase those items of duct tape and sheeting, SURELY that person (if not Toby) would come fwd and say yeah I purchased those items. Thats not something U would forget.

    All up though I agree its difficult to convict Toby from what I saw on 48 Hours. With no forensic evidence anywhere its amazingly hard to convict this guy, in my opinion. Some points do point to him being very suspicious, but not enough to be found guilty.

    James.

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    1. How could you guys miss the fact that at the time he went through that toll toby's and Robert Wile's phones were synched up pinging off the same cell towers ? The time that phone call was made corresponds to the time the ransom call was made from Roberts phone to Roberts dad. Now that's damming, how could that be explained away? Robert and Toby' phone together post kidnapping running down the road.

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    2. Ok... so lets say someone that YOU knew was kidnapped and missing and the only evidence that they have is that your phone and the victims phone was pinging off the same tower and they decided to go after you for the kidnapping, and ultimately murder. Would you then say that was enough evidence when in fact you were innocent? That's what you are saying here. The pictures they showed were not clear to even show he was on ANY phone, let alone Roberts and supposedly his own was turned off.

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    3. 1. the picture of holt at 6:04pm (two days after Robert was last seen) correlated to the time Robert's phone was used to check Robert's voicemail from 6:04-6:10pm, the time undisputedly when holt's phones were not 'active' meaning holt was not using holt's phones at 6:04pm to call or text or check his own voicemail yet at 6:04pm Robert's phone was active and Robert's phone was using the same towers as Holt's phones when Holt was seen with something pressed against Holt's ear minutes after a call and text was sent from Robert's phone containing ransom demands in the form of a text and after a missed voice call was sent/made to Tim from Robert's phone. In my opinion holt was making subsequent ransoms and checking for a response via voicemail all between 5:46pm-6:10pm (two days after Robert was last seen) using Robert's phone and got caught on tape doing so.

      2. the home depot thing is very telling, first holt called information for the home depot and then minutes later Duct tape and Plastic sheeting items were paid for with cash minutes before that home depot closed and Holt was placed from information in cell towers within close proximity of this sale--what I draw from this is that holt didn't have a clue what time the store closed and at the last minute Holt went in and grabbed whatever Holt could and left and then minutes later Holt checked into a hotel and then left again and didn't return for 3 hours at a time Holt claimed he was first at a hooters drinking beers from 6:45-8? and then cruising parking lots for women and then at an outback steakhouse from 9:00 to 10:00pm. but Holt was never at that steakhouse or hooters according to surveillance and witnesses Holt wasn't there. he was calling gun stores 3-4 hours before Robert went missing and Holt owned a gun and Holt was en-route to that Home Depot and then right after Home Depot closed seen on surveillance at that Hotel to check in then left to do whatever with Robert's body between 9:00 and 12:00 that night. That's my opinion based on how I understand the facts in the case.

      If not only Holt is guilty then holt was deeply involved. Meyer looked innocent, grief didn't look so innocent and many of them had a motive. Tim should have cleared house so to speak. I would be interested to know who kept their job or why.

      I love 48 hours! it's always fascinating!
      cheers,
      mike c.

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  2. I have to agree with you on this. I think we live in a society that makes every one's actions and comment suspect when something happens. To add to this you have attorneys and detectives alike that will often stop at nothing to prove a hunch they have and do whatever it takes to do so.

    I often tease my husband that he cannot die before me, especially in a suspicious circumstance because I'd probably be in jail. For one if my computer was searched not only would this blog on crimes would be found but MULTIPLE searches of other crimes and criminals. I have spent DAYS on Wikipedia just going through particular tags for murder of some sort just reading up and hearing cases. If my DVR was searched they would find that other than a few shows on standard television mainly I record off Investigation Discovery. I joke with him and tell him that I'm looking for ways NOT to kill him since most of those people are caught. But, what happens if he were to die?

    This goes not just for my husband, who we all know I would be the first person of interest with, but with anyone else I have had issues with or I just simply do not like. I am a pretty vocal person, and if I don't like you, you know it and my family calls me a grudge holder. So what happens if one of those people die under suspicious circumstances?

    Cases like this are kind of scary. I cannot say he wasn't guilty... but I cannot say he was.

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  3. After watching 48 hours, I strongly believe Toby is innocent.

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    1. I agree with you on his innocence. Everyone can speculate about Robert's phone, but the truth is - IT'S SPECULATION! Robert Wiles' phone was NOT "in" his car - it just pinged off the same towers for crying out loud. Does anyone have any idea how many people can ping off of a tower in their vicinity at a given moment? I just think the justice system can appear very pathetic & pure lazy at times. Answers aren't making themselves known, so let's adjust what's there to answer what we don't... If he's as guilty as they say - then they should've been able to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I hope TRUE Justice is eventually served for all involved. I just happen to think this isn't it.

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  4. I just watched this on 48 Hours tonight and gotta say, this guy Holt looks/behaves like a sociopath. Always smiling and those eyes! Holy crap, his eyes are scary.

    Then his ex-wifey saying he was "such a nice guy" when in all accounts, she didn't even really know him at all if he was screwing a DOZEN other women whilst married to her. She's in denial, or stupid, or both. At least she had the good sense to divorce him immediately upon hearing he had 12 mistresses from the investigating police.

    This guy's guilty in my mind. I hope he doesn't win his planned appeal or get a reduced sentence. He needs to rot in jail.

    He also NEEDS to tell the Wiles family where their son is so they can get the closure they deserve.

    WTF was Robert's PHONE DOING IN HOLT'S CAR???!!!!!!



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    1. You are a scary and ignorant person. Let's hope you never make it on a jury.

      Eye gazing and analysis of how someone "looks" isn't admissible for a reason.

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  5. Susan.. YOU AND ME BOTH!

    The truth of the matter is that I used to be like the majority of the poplulation where we all want "justice" (which means we want who ever the media or law enforcement is suspicious about to hang. I used to get caught up in the media (Nancy Grace for one) where the more circumstantial evidence and the more character assininations were put out there, then I bought into it.

    The Casey Athony case caught my attention and I joined that "justice band wagon"...up till then I never knew about wrongful convictions.

    In researching that case, brought to my attention many other cases where exonerations were given. In these exonerated cases I learned that "circumstance" made the person look guilty, and I also learned that law enforcement is mostly believed in their opinions of who did it or that a murder occured (instead of natural, or accidental)

    I then learned that once law enforcement has formed their opinion, they easily influence the coroner, then DA. Then the public witchhunt begins... I saw in many cases this was the common thread. Many news conferences with law enforcement would say enough to make the public cast doubt against the person of interest. A statement where we are told that the person of interest is "uncooperative" which turned out to be that they werent cooperative at all. They told their story once twice three times which fell on deaf ears and because law enforcement though the person was lying, they felt within their right to say that the person is "uncooperative".... They dont ever explain to the public what "uncooperative" means. They mislead the public by implying that the person wont deal with them or gets a lawyer..

    I researched many cases since then and sadly, it seems like we have an epidemic of wrongful convictions and convictions that were given on natural and accidental deaths.

    There is no more "reasonable doubt." If there is a chance or an oppurtunity that someone could have done something, then he is going to go down, even without any physical evidence. In comes "character." God forbid that couples have life insurance for each other, even though they have children.. This seems to be a popular "motive." God help a person who is or did have any affair, or "secret" ..

    I have come to see that if you are objective, and open minded and can assess "reasonable doubt" and state that you arent convinced on someones guilt then you usually are looked at in bad light. People believe that you are either a bleeding heart, or a person who believes crime should be allowed. It seems that "gang mentality" in the pursuit of justice mean that you have to believe and agree with any law/gov official in terms of the persons guilt.

    In this case, I was shocked that he was convicted because his arm was raised in a video. Thats basically what convicted him.

    I am shocked that the investigators can say that Roberts phone was used at the exact time, yet they cant show who he called. I would have needed to see the corresponding number to be able to say in my heart that he was the perp. Surely the records if they were there at all, could have shown the receiving phone number, time, etc.

    In many exonerations I saw that the accused had an alibi that couldnt be corroborated by anyone so it was assumed he mustbe lying...

    We need to bring awareness to any potential jury member anywhere in North America. We need to stop teaching our children that circumstance is good evidence and coincidences equal guilt. We need to stop making people feel like they are bad, if they dont agree with allegations against a person, so to feel pressured into going along with convictions.

    Im like you Susan, I cant say for sure he didnt do it, but I certainly am not convinced he did.

    In a case like this I would rather have a guilty man walk, than an innocent man lose his freedom/life for something he "May" have done..

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    1. That was beautifully said. I am a cj/forensics grad student but lean more towards the prosecution, you reminded me of the way we should Always look at cases. I agree with u completely, thankyou!

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  6. There are several things which seem to point toward an inside job.

    1) The ransom money was supposed to be left at a place inside the aviation business building under the control of a trusted person. No one tampered with the money presumably because it was under surveillance.
    2) The ransom amount was equal to the amount that the kidnapping insurance covered.
    3) The ransom note was sent from Robert's email account. If the kidnapper was the older drunk mechanic who could barely keep a job, would he know how to write an email from Robert's account which flowed so well. Did they compare samples of Toby's emails to this one to verify similarities in style? Did they subpoena the IP addresses used to access the email account?
    4) The handgun which Toby said he didn't keep in his car was found hidden under the hood.
    5) The tollbooth photo. Forget whether Toby's holding Robert's phone or not. What are the chances he would be roughly within a few hundred feet of the place where Robert's cell phone was making a call on the turnpike and he wasn't involved?
    6) His inability to find anyone who remembered seeing him the night Robert disappeared. If he went to Hooters and Outback, where are the credit card records? If he paid cash, find out what he ordered that night and check and see if a single patron ordered the same things that night.

    The struggle for the jury may have been that they weren't sure if Toby acted alone, NOT if he wasn't involved. For me, he was clearly involved in this, but it is unclear whether he acted alone and what his role was in the disapearance of Robert.

    Ralph

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  7. You can't make up your minds for sure from a tv show. You'd have to heard everything that took place and was exposed in the courtroom. They don't show all of that on the show.
    However, having the phone when a person is missing is very odd and points to Toby. If he was working with someone else....he is sure keeping tight lipped about it. Hopefully Robert's body will be found eventually and tell the story of what happened.

    Very sad all around.

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  8. I happened to catch this episode again on television the other night and I struck again how the hairdresser who claimed that Robert talked of faking his own kidnapping was dismissed so easily. I know that families do not like to think their family members would do something like this or things like suicide and they will fight tooth and nail to get the "justice" they want and I see that in this case. Robert's family had money and they kept the investigation going in a direction that they wanted. I cannot say for sure that he did or did not fake his own kidnapping but the fact that the family didn't think it was plausible should have meant nothing.

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  9. I personally know Toby. I went to high school with him. He was always a polite, studious, go-getter. There is nothing scary about his eyes. He never exhibited any sociopathic tendencies that I ever witnessed. He had alot of friends and cared about people. Nor was he violent or vengeful. He also was not spoiled by any means. One time he was wanting to come to my house for a visit but too young to drive a vehicle and had no one who could bring him, so he rode his bicycle the 12 miles (one way) because he had told me he was coming over. He always seemed like a good guy. I hope he did not do any of the things he was accused of. I also hope he has the ability to get his case back into court if he is innocent so that he doesn't have to spend time in jail if he did not commit this crime.

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  10. There is a pretty damning web of circumstantial evidence in this case. Holt had motive, means, and opportunity -- and was the likely the only person to have all three. Holt REPEATEDLY lied to police, and when caught in a lie, could furnish no good explanation.

    -he said that he left work at 6:30pm on April 1st and went to Hooters for a few beers. Video surveillance shows that he never entered or exited Hooters. Waitstaff do not remember him.
    -he said that he cruised around for women, then went to Outback, was served by a certain waitress, and paid by credit card. But his credit card was never used and restaurant receipts show no trace of him. The waitress does not remember him.

    Meanwhile:
    -his cell phone is used from work at 8:35pm, long after he said he'd left. He tells his wife he's not coming home that night.
    -his cell is used again to call Home Depot at 8:41pm. Now, he's on the move and his cell pings close to the store. When asked about this, Holt claims that he was inquiring about mini-blinds for the office -- during the time when he claimed he had left the office, drunk a few beers, and was cruising for women. Sure.
    -at Home Depot, someone buys duct tape and plastic sheeting with cash at 8:54pm. It's the last purchase that day, and a sign that Wiles is already dead.
    -minutes after this purchase, Holt checks into a nearby hotel, then immediately leaves for close to 3 hours. He cannot account for his whereabouts.

    The ransom e-mail isn't sent until late the next day. This is unusual -- kidnappers who seek money are highly motivated to move quickly and typically have a ransom note prepared. They don't want to hold the person longer than needed. It's clear that the kidnapper knows the office well, and so the suspect pool is small. The only person engaged in a workplace vendetta against Robert Wiles was Toby Holt. E-mails show that he was trying to get other employees to badmouth Wiles and get him transferred. They also suggest that Holt was inflating prices on jobs and siphoning money. Holt was, after all, living beyond his means. He drove a BMW and had a dozen girlfriends. He had the most to lose if Wiles -- the one most invested in protecting his family's business -- uncovered his activities and halted his financial stream.

    The kidnapper's follow-up text, directing Wiles's father to read his e-mail, was sent from Robert's cell a day later, on April 3rd. Multiple calls/texts were made from both Holt's cell and Robert's cell during a drive to Orlando. The two phones pinged off the same towers along the way. Unless you believe that there were two cars driving side by side along the same route, at the same time, at the same speed for 1.5 hrs -- and one of them contained Holt and the other contained Robert Wiles and they never noticed each other -- you have to conclude that both phones were in the same car. This choreography gets fancier when you realize that there isn't any time overlap among the multiple calls/texts. This is consistent with a single user switching between two phones, but inconsistent with two users in two cars making multiple calls independently. The smoking gun is that photo of Holt on the phone at the very time and location that Robert Wiles's cell was being used to access his voicemail. Once you place the two phones in the same car, it's clear whose phone Holt was using (esp. since Holt's phone was off).

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  11. Holt constantly tells lies that are easily debunked. He says he paid with a credit card, when it's easy to show otherwise. He says that there are no firearms in his car, right before FBI agents search it and find his gun. Such "magical thinking" indicates not only a certain stupidity, but also a disconnect with reality. He tells lies and hopes against hope that things will work out. He lies to all these women. He lies at work. He lies to police.

    The previous poster is right in noting his chilling expressions -- who smiles when talking about murder, and when his own guilty verdict is pronounced? Holt smiles with his mouth, but not his eyes. He uses his face the same way he uses his words -- to lie.

    The jury was right to convict on manslaughter. There's no evidence of an intent to kill, but all the same, Robert Wiles likely died on April 1st as the result of workplace violence. The ransom demands on April 2nd and 3rd were just an afterthought, a cover-up, a hopeful piece of magical thinking.

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  12. I watched the episode for the 2nd time today. And for the sake of others who are innocent and in jail I did not see enough to convict him and the FACT that the family still clings to the idea he could walk in the door anytime and has not had a ceremony or any type of closure such as a wake etc and his body has not been found, means they still cling to him being alive yet say they believe he was killed. I certainly hope this guy gets a new trial with a new jury!

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  13. C'mon people...are you kidding. We SHOULD NOT be able to convict someone and take way their freedom without a body, any DNA evidence that a murder has even occurred!! I think his parents BOUGHT this conviction just so they could sleep at night and feel like they did something. I think there's a good chance Tobi was set up and Roberts laughing at everyone from some beach somewhere!
    Geez!!

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    1. Give me a break! Why do you think people hide the bodies of people they murder and destroy evidence? Because people like you believe they should get away with it if there isn't a body. There was a body and then there wasn't due to them. He is right where he belongs.

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  14. give me a break...this guy is so GUILTY. The only way he wasn't convicted of first degree murder is because that couldn't prove he planned on killing Robert. Nevertheless, the jury did find him guilty of killing him. All the evidence proves he killed Robert. The people that believe he is innocence is so very ignorant. Unfortunately there are always going to be people like that who believes a person is innocent even is the person who died came back to life and actually said that person is the one who took their life. And just because bodies aren't found doesn't mean murders aren't committed...there are killers that are very good disposing of bodies.

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