10:40 a.m. Two eyewitnesses see a man fleeing from the direction of Kathleen Smith's condo. The man leaves a perfect footprint in a flowerbed a few yards from the condo's front door.

10:42 a.m. Tempe Fire Department dispatches two engines to SceneOne Condominiums, Kathleen's residence.

10:30–11 a.m. Witnesses see Robert Ortloff at Fiesta Flowers, about 10 minutes from the Kathleen Smith crime scene. No one notes any sign of injuries to Ortloff.

Robert Ortloff in 1982
Robert Ortloff in 1982
The SceneOne Condominiums in Tempe, where Kathleen Smith was murdered in 1984.
Paul Rubin
The SceneOne Condominiums in Tempe, where Kathleen Smith was murdered in 1984.


E-mail paul.rubin@newtimes.com, or call 602-229-8433.

11:15 a.m. Richard Schibler checks himself into Tempe St. Luke's Hospital to receive stitches for his cut left ring finger.

Early afternoon Ortloff and others are informed at Fiesta Flowers about the fire at Kathleen Smith's condo and the discovery of a body inside. Ortloff claims to have injured himself sometime afterward in the back of his shop.

4 p.m. Tempe police speak with Ortloff for the first time and notice the scratches to his neck and that he is limping (broken toe).


February 1984 Robert Ortloff and Kathleen Smith start ROKS Incorporated hoping to become Subway restaurant franchisees.

June 1984 Ortloff embezzles $7,500 from his grandfather.

October 1, 1984 Ortloff repays grandfather with ROKS business funds.

October 5, 1984 Kathleen Smith is murdered.

January 1985 Someone puts a homemade bomb in a Subway owned by key Smith murder case figure Rick Schibler.

June 1985 Ortloff's live-in girlfriend, Jennifer Spies, gives immunity-protected statement to prosecutors, then abruptly leaves Arizona for California. Does not implicate Ortloff directly in murder.

September 1985 The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declines Tempe PD request to seek murder indictment against Ortloff.

November 1985 Tempe PD and FBI meet in strategy session about Ortloff and the two cases (murder and attempted bombing) in which he is the prime suspect.

January 1986 Ortloff is arrested in the mail-bombing of U.S. Army Specialist Thad Gulzcynski at Fort Hood, Texas.

June 1986 A federal jury in Waco, Texas, votes 10-2 to acquit Ortloff of all mail-bomb charges. The judge orders a mistrial.

August 1986 Ortloff is convicted of all mail-bomb charges, and later is sentenced to 50 years in prison.

March 1993 The Office of the Inspector General releases its findings on a major scandal inside the FBI crime lab. One of those excoriated is bomb expert Tom Thurman, a key witness at Ortloff's 1986 trials.

January 1999 Ex-prosecutor-turned-murderer Fred Tokars is transferred to a federal prison in Wisconsin, where Ortloff is serving time.

March 1999 A friend of Tokars tells members of Kathleen Smith's family that Ortloff has confessed to Tokars that he murdered the young woman.

April 1999 Ortloff is not granted parole and is told he will have to wait 15 more years for reconsideration.

July 1999 Tokars tells a Tempe police detective that Ortloff confessed to him.

May 2003 Ortloff is indicted on first-degree murder and other charges by a Maricopa County grand jury.

February 2008 Ortloff's murder trial begins in the courtroom of Judge Warren Granville.

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bill w.
bill w.

Alan Bell is a well known attorney to myself and other colleagues of mine. He has a sterling reputation as an ethical and dedicated lawyer. His many accomplishments are impressive. He is also a distinguished philanthropist.


I'll always love you Fred. Call me. Remember who you are and that all good intentions get twisted in this day and age.


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Fred Tokars is an honest man with a lot of personal integrity. Those closest to him, and there are many, know him to be a true friend, patient, gracious, and forgiving. I will always love this true friend and miss him forever.

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