COMING UP ON 48 HOURS MYSTERY: A MILLIONAIRE'S SON IS KIDNAPPED - THE RANSOM IS $750,000
SATURDAY, MAY 12 (10:00 PM, ET/PT)
It's a parent's worst nightmare. On April 3, 2008, millionaire business owner and family man Tom Wiles opened an e-mail. His life would never be the same. "We have Robert. If you hope to see him alive again, you must follow our instructions without deviation!" The ransom note demanded $750,000 for the safe return of his 26-year-old son. The note was signed, "Group X." "Remember we are watching everything, and if you think you can outsmart us, it will cost your son his life."
Robert had been working at the Wiles' family business, National Flight Services, an aircraft maintenance company with offices across the country and clients worldwide. Robert was a rising star, working in the Lakeland, Fla. branch. He was last seen in his office before he vanished.
Despite being warned not to contact authorities, the Wiles family brought in the FBI immediately. However, against FBI advice, the family wanted to pay the ransom. So the FBI set a trap for "Group X."
The authorities would investigate the family, past and present employees, friends and would even raise the question, did Robert stage his own kidnapping?
Almost one year into the investigation, the FBI was stuck - there was no body, no DNA, no evidence of a crime scene. They gathered a Florida task force of local detectives, and began looking back at everything anew, both inside and outside the company. They combed through 17,000 pages of information. There was one former employee who had been fired for drug and alcohol abuse who seemed a perfect suspect. He died during the investigation.
Then, 18 months after Robert Wiles had vanished, the combined forces of the FBI and local law enforcement honed in on a remarkable discovery. Matching cell phone records with video surveillance, they determined someone was using Robert Wiles' cell phone, days after he disappeared. They concluded it was Toby Holt, the one-time trusted employee Tom Wiles had hand-picked as his point man for the FBI. In December 2009, Toby Holt was charged with murder, kidnapping and extortion.
"We were there to put the pieces together," Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Tommy Ray told 48 Hours. "There was no smoking gun in this particular case." On Jan. 31, 2012, almost four years after Robert Wiles vanished, Toby Holt was found guilty of manslaughter and extortion.
48 HOURS MYSTERY correspondent Peter Van Sant interviews Robert Wiles' entire family, as well as the key investigators. Van Sant speaks with Toby Holt, in his only interview about the case. Holt still maintains his innocence, telling Van Sant, "I absolutely had nothing to do with Robert Wiles' disappearance."
The primetime broadcast entitled "Ransom" will air on Saturday, May 12 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
48 HOURS MYSTERY's "Ransom" was produced by Allen Alter and Paul LaRosa. Peter Schweitzer was the senior producer. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer of 48 HOURS MYSTERY.
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