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.