Posted in: Crime

What Happened To Robert Wiles?

Robert Wiles

Lakeland, FL – Back on April 1, 2008, a handsome young man from an affluent family disappeared without a trace. Robert Wiles, 26, is described by his loved ones as an athletic, charismatic, adventurous person with a fierce love for life; the water and flying particularly.

Robert had been working at the National Flight Services location in Lakeland, Florida at the time of his disappearance. It was part of his family’s multimillion dollar business. Robert was gradually being groomed to take over one day.

An astounding $750,000 ransom demand was sent from his cell phone, assuring Robert’s safe return in exchange for the money, and signed by Group X. Because of the nature of the family business involving travel to some rather risky places, they have ransom insurance policies on the employees, including Robert. Ignoring the advice of the FBI, Robert’s father, Tom Wiles, gathered the funds and traveled from Toledo, Ohio to Lakeland, Florida.

The ransom exchange came and went, without any attempt to retrieve the money on part of Group X.

48 Hours Mystery of CBS aired an episode titled “Ransom” outlining a thorough examination of the case. The report, by Peter Van Sant, illustrated a few potential theories surrounding the alleged kidnapping of the young man.

Tom, his ex-wife, and their two daughters fell under scrutiny, as it is common for loved ones to be considered and ruled out as suspects in these types of crimes. Other potential suspects emerged, one a disgruntled ex-employee fired over drug and alcohol addiction. The dismissed mechanic, Steve Lindsey, swore Tom would suffer, due to refusing to rehire or work with him. However, Lindsey denied any criminal involvement in the loss of Tom’s son.

Robert’s assumed killer, 44-year-old Stobert “Toby” Holt, Jr., had been a co-worker and the last reported person to see him alive. Holt was convicted and sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison. The jury deliberated for only four hours. Holt’s future loomed on charges of kidnapping, extortion, intent to inflict bodily-harm, and murder.

A Polk County Circuit judge slapped Holt with two consecutive 15-year sentences of manslaughter after the jury returned with guilty verdict. Consecutive sentencing means that when a criminal defendant is convicted on multiple counts, the sentences for each must be served one after the other, not concurrently. However, Holt still asserts his innocence to this day.

Holt and Wiles

The punishment would seem to fit the crime if not for the fact that the case was won with no body, no forensics, and no cause of death (if dead), no weapon, no witnesses, no surveillance, no ransom pick up, no financial trail, and no outright motive. The only tangible connection had to do with Wiles’ cell phone. But Holt argued that he understood phones could be traced, and wouldn’t have been so stupid to have kept or used it had he committed the alleged crimes. But he was ultimately convicted in the same state where Casey Anthony, who faced considerably more evidence and a body, walked away from the trial of her deceased toddler, Caylee, without so much as a neglect or child endangerment charge; waiting over 30 days before contacting authorities to report the missing girl.

The remainder of the case against Holt was purely circumstantial. Circumstantial evidence is evidence in which an interpretation is made of events and items and presented as a likely factually assessment of how the crime occurred. It is not like a fingerprint at the scene of a crime or a smoking gun in the criminal’s hands.

You can’t help but ache for the Wiles family. However, the trial came off as though the community wanted to hang someone, anyone close to the case for the crime. A manner of resolution needed to occur. You have a missing young man, his forlorn and very influentially wealthy family, a few coincidences, a couple of possible suspects, one of whom (Lindsey) dies of lung cancer during the lengthy investigation, and an implacable, unwavering refusal to assume Robert just chose to disappear.

Is it possible the family, shrouded in incredible grief and encumbered with unresolved questions, are simply too emotional to accept other possible alternatives to the case?

Although unlikely, it is not impossible to assume someone has disappeared and is still alive, whether of or against their own will. There have been several cases over the years that have proven this to be true.

The kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 is one example. At 11, Dugard was abducted from the street while walking home from the school bus stop. She was discovered alive 18 years later in the company of a sex offender and his wife. While detained by her captors, Dugard was kept in a concealed area behind the home, overlooked by several visitors to the home, and mothered two children.

In 1985 a young bookkeeper named Denise Bolser vanished alongside a ransom demand. In this case no actual kidnapper existed. Bolser had orchestrated her own disappearance and was stumbled upon 17 years later, when private investigators connected her to her alias Denise James. Her vanishing act had been part of a supposed effort to flee her employers. Bolser feared for her life, claiming the people she worked for had been embezzling and she’d discovered it. She was later fingered for stealing the $12,000 from the firm.

Australian native Gabriel Nagy incurred a life altering head wound in 1987, one that left him with no memory of his previous life. In his fugue state, he roved about the country for nearly two decades, working odd jobs. Gradually his amnesia subsided and he was reunited with his family.

There are often extreme and rare cases of eccentrics or children from backgrounds of privilege who opt to fade from society in order to escape from the pressure and expectations of their everyday lives.

To this day Robert Wiles has not been found, dead or alive.

What do you think happened to Robert Wiles? Do you think it’s possible he chose to leave his life and create another one elsewhere? Do you think it’s possible if he had been killed that someone else may have been responsible? Do you think the jury failed to consider the circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt?

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19 Responses to “What Happened To Robert Wiles?”

  1. John Anthony Cameron

    I think we may have uncovered what happened to Robert A Wiles here in Montana. You can follow my Facebook page and see what I have been involved in for the past three years. Recently, we connected serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards, 6-14-1933, to the killing of Robert Wiles and the set-up of Stobert Holt. Edwards was 75 years old in 2008 and had been killing nonstop since 1945. He was from Ohio, lived in Lakeland in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and was married with 5 children. He was arrested June 30, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky for a 1980 Wisconsin Lover's Lane murder. He confessed to 5 murders spanning 19 years in two states and demanded to be executed in 2010. He got his execution date of August 31, 2011 but died April 7, 2011. We befriended him before his death, after we connected him to a 1956 lover's lane murder in my hometown of Great Falls, Montana. We followed his life of murder the past three years. The Robert A Wiles Ransom note and Text messages from his phone were made by Edwards. Edwards kidnapped, killed and staged phony ransom notes his entire life. He had an incredible high IQ. Edwards was busted after Robert disappeared and before Stobert Holt was arrested. Edwards MO was to hold the body for months if not years and plant it so it would implicate others. Since he was busted in Louisville, June of 2009, he most likely took Roberts body to Kentucky near Stobert Holts hometown. We have notified the FBI, Holts attorney and the Lakeland, Florida prosecution. What they do with the information is another thing.

  2. Deb Laveson

    Lakeland is where that woman disappeared in the 50s. She was at a barn dance. There was a livestock building nearby.

  3. Deb Laveson

    If by admit, you mean did he ever give a straight answer? I believe Ed said "I never killed no one in Montana." So, by that, you can be sure he is only admitting that he shot them. I have seen that to be something Ed does when he wants to tell the truth. He believes nature caused their deaths. He can accept responsibility to having put the bullets into their bodies, but he wasn't asked that. So he only answered as truthfully as he could.

    John thinks I'm full of shit on this, but hey. I've had 3 years to think about it as well.

  4. Zoe Shurtliff

    so if Edwards did kill Robert and now he's dead, than there is nothing Holt can do, and if they find the body near Holts home, than that would seem like more evidence against him. That would be just horrible.

  5. Carla Finkle

    This case should be attacked from a legal standpoint. There is no evidence against this man!

  6. Kathleen Wagner

    I'm sure the FBI will put tons of manpower on the case when my 26-year-old son vanishes after talking about faking his own kidnapping and cashing in on the family's insurance. I'm sure it's not because Robert's parents are rich. Right?

  7. Matt Turley

    You people are fucking idiots. This article was written by a moron, who forgot to mention that the FBI, searched Holt's vehicle and found a gun, hidden under the hood. They have a tollway photo of Holt driving through talking on the phone. Yet his cellphone wasn't in use at the time. But Roberts phone was. So holt driving alone was using Roberts phone. Roberts phone was also traced to be in the same vicinity as Toby Holt's cellphone. Also that gun they found was also after Holt lied to the FBI about not owning a gun. Yet they find it hidden under the hood. He's guilty as fuck, and you people are dumbfucks.

  8. Joe MC Cormick

    Are you people all brain dead this guy is guilty as your comments are ignorant. He was driving around with the cell phone for 3 days. Wake up he's a killer.

  9. Joe MC Cormick

    Toby Holt new about the ransom drop and that the FBI was waiting for him, that's why he didn't try and pick the money up. I hope he dies in prison for not telling the family what he did with Roberts body.

  10. Anonymous

    There seem to be a LOT of missing information that would add to this case.Example no mention of tracing where Toby was going that day when they got the photo of him using the cell phone at the border crossing.
    Then if they did trace that did they start investigating possible Toby Holt accomplices or friends.Another example is tracing any calls made on either cell phone that perhaps lead to cross border information.

    I had my own sort of theories a couple of them.Perhaps Toby talked to Robert about that Ransom insurance and convinced Robert a scam would work.That way he could basically get Robert to disappear on his own making it impossible to tie Toby directly into it.Then Toby would know where Robert was hiding out,went there and shot or killed him.
    Bottom line is i believe he is dead and the body is very far away over that border crossing.They should have used helicopters and search over the border for any suspicious areas that a body might be hidden.Judging by the videos i saw it looks like a ton of marshy land areas that people would never venture or stumble onto a dead body.They could use dogs as well no mention of that either..

    No i don't believe he is alive in another country because spending your life in prison is not fun,Toby would have coughed up that information by now even if he was in on it with Robert.

    I think all you need is to look at his constant smiling,that is NOT normal for a guy who says he is innocent and neither of a guy in prison,he sort of looks psychotic.

  11. Cassandra Elizabeth Turcotte

    Just caught this on television today – a re-run of 48hrs. I have to say I'm convinced he's still alive and somehow managed to orchestrate his own disappearance. Why would some random hairdresser just up and tell the investigators that he talked to her about organizing a false kidnapping?

    In my opinion, everything about Holt's case can be explained with ways Robert could have set up. As far as his not having an alibi – isn't it simply possible that nobody can account for seeing him for 4 hours. I know I certainly don't have proof of my whereabouts 24/7. On top of that – he's already in prison for 30 years, once he was convicted he would have no reason to not come out and say "Listen, yes, I did it, the body is _____". It'll be interesting to see what happens if he's allowed a re-trial (if that's happened already or not.. I'm not sure).

    This "kidnapping" is far too weird to just be a kidnapping. There was no proof of a fight (from someone who was a soldier!), no blood, no body has been turned up in six years…. I don't believe it.

  12. Anonymous

    Imo the FBI did not do a very good job,it more or less seemed like they followed some book of code instead of using their heads.Perfect example is that drunk guy that was fired was obviously buying tons of alcohol,HOW and what type of currency,a bank card,was that traced?Was he cashing cheques,where were those cheques cashed ect ect,just not enough work done by the FBI.

    Another thing i thought about was the gun hidden under the hood.Toby claimed it was in case he went through a dangerous neighborhood,well his GF said he would NEVER take a life,i think she is very naive.I would have lol if i was the prosecutor because i would have asked ,so if you were suddenly in trouble in a bad neighborhood,how the heck do you get out of your car ,open the hood and get the gun out before that danger already has you in trouble or dead?

    Also his answers were too precise like he was told to answer in a way his lawyer told him rather than talk from the heart about a murder.Example all his answers were NO NO NO.Toby had time to think about the case himself,especially after being the last guy to talk to him,he could have and should have said something or anything,like where Robert was perhaps going ,but instead it was a quick NO.

    I believe 99% that one way or another Toby was definitely involved in Robert's murder ,weather he actually did the killing idk.

  13. William E Roth

    The case was presented in a legal court, and a jury of his peers convicted the defendant from a legal standpoint. People are convicted all the time on circumstantial evidence. It is part of the American legal SYSTEM. What point are you trying to make? Read Joe MC Cormick's comment below, in case you missed that very crucial piece of evidence that they failed to mention later after mentioning very early that Holt was a trusted person and thus fully aware and actually a part of the FBI plan to catch the person who retrieved the ransom money. No one did because Holt was supposed to but knew he would then be caught. Does it not raise suspicion in you that they never again heard from the so-called Group-X after Holt admitted to having the phone from which the calls were being made???

  14. Tami Unruh

    By all accounts this was a close family, i can't imagine he would do something so cruel as to just leave and let them believe he's dead. I believe he's either dead or still being held against his will somewhere.

  15. Billy Reid

    I am convinced that Toby Holt definitely killed Robert Wiles . There are far too many coincidences for it to be a coincidence . Holt's poker face and his calm , unruffled demeanour remained unchanged throughout the police questioning and his trial , giving little away. His expression changed little during the guilty verdict , but when being led away by the court officers , his so-called default smile turned into a slight frown ; indicating that he was no longer in control of the situation and that his bad deed had caught up with him. When presented with the cell phone evidence , Holt said that he watched " 24 Hours " and knew exactly how these crimes were investigated , so why then would have been stupid enough to carry the missing person's phone around – he proffered. So why exactly did he carry the phone around ? The jury didn't buy his mitigating after-timing and neither did the Judge . The fact is that most killers who have pleaded not guilty , and who are consequently found guilty , invariably plead innocence from their prison cell , and are very careful not to let their emotions run wild – and thereby let their mask fall. Justice was done in the end – and Toby Holt got his his just reward.

  16. Jim Mueller

    I worked for the company before and met Rob Wiles. there is no way he disappeared himself. Someone was definitely responsible for this and Toby is the only person that the facts point to.

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