This week Mystery in the Sunshine State examines the disappearance and apparent kidnapping of 26-year-old Robert Wiles from the office where he works.
Robert was doing well in life and with his work, where he was the likely heir to the family business. They operated an aircraft service company out of an office in Lakeland, Florida, and all seemed to be going great.
The company, National Flight Service, was based out of Ohio but Robert liked the sun and fishing in Florida so was learning the ropes at their office in the state. There was a little bit of friction between Robert and some of the employees, who felt his lack of experience meant he was not always the best person to make decisions. His father Tom also had a little bit of a problem with a mechanic he was forced to get rid of due to him being drunk on the job.
Then suddenly, the whole family was thrown into disarray when one day they receive a ransom note for Robert from a group calling themselves “Group X.”
The note demanded $750,000 be left in the Lakeland office in return for getting Robert back again alive. Tom Wiles contacts the FBI right away and tells them he will pay the ransom.
However, the FBI were suspicious of the ransom as the office was a hard place to get away from. They rigged the place with cameras, place a box filled with coffee the same weight as the cash on the desk and had a SWAT team at the ready. Tom got local trusted employee and operations manager Toby Holt to help.
Nobody came to collect the cash but the FBI did make a breakthrough when they realised that Robert’s phone was being used by the apparent kidnapper. They traced it going through a toll both and then on another journey they managed to identify the car, it belonged to Toby Holt!
Looking into Holt’s activity they found he bought rolls of duck tape and plastic sheeting on the night Robert was last known to be alive. Computer records also showed he was active in the same building as Robert that night.
Married man Holt claimed he was out for dinner and paid cash but the FBI did not believe him. He charged everything to his card, even when he was buying condoms before visiting his girlfriend on the side.
The case proved very tricky for prosecutors due to the lack of evidence but the phone records were key, with Robert’s phone going everywhere Holt went after the former disappeared.
Eventually a jury found Holt guilty of manslaughter and he was given a 30 year prison sentence.
Mystery in the Sunshine State airs on Thursdays at 8:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.