Parker then was to murder the young man in such a way that it would look like a suicide.

Four prosecution witnesses testified at the retrial that Ortloff had told them about knowing how to make a pipe bomb. The witnesses included former fiancée Jennifer Spies and Anna Carpenter Gulczynski.

Ten days after the first trial ended in the hung jury, Anna married the soldier.

During her second round of testimony, Anna claimed that the handwriting on the outside of the bomb package was Ortloff's, something FBI experts hadn't been able to state with certainty.

And, according to Anna's new testimony, her relationship with Ortloff had been so serious that he had "talked about marriage."

Thad Gulczynski, who now is an FBI agent, told New Times in a 2005 e-mail that he "didn't have much of an impression [of Ortloff] because I only saw him for five minutes, if that. Nothing stuck out at that time for me to have an opinion either way . . . I know he wanted a better relationship with her, and she said no, she was with me. One way to deal with that would be to get me out of the picture. Didn't work."

(Gulczynski and Carpenter divorced years ago.)

Ortloff's defense at the retrial was ineffective.

His attorneys sought no forensic experts to try to counter the powerful testimony of the FBI experts, whose cloak of infallibility dominated the courtroom.

The sum of the defense was to put Robert Ortloff on the stand and hope for the best.

They got the worst.

Ortloff said he and Anna had been dating several times a week before the mail-bombing, though he also claimed he found time to see other women.

Ortloff insisted he'd never been "in" love with Anna.

He admitted he had drawn the map, "hoping to have somebody who wasn't from Mesa, Arizona, find out about [Anna's brother] Michael Carpenter."

"Find out what?"

"Whatever he could."

Ortloff said he never gave Parker the map, and that the snitch probably had gotten it by going through his legal papers at the jail. He swore that he never engaged in conspiratorial talk with anyone about killing Anna and Michael Carpenter.

Under cross-examination, Ortloff conceded that his relationship with Anna Carpenter had been "serious" and it had been her idea, not his, to cool things down shortly before the Fort Hood bombing.

"Were you jealous of Thad?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yeah, a little bit," Ortloff said. "I'm not jealous in being upset with Thad as much as being upset with the situation."

Ortloff didn't contest the devastating FBI testimony that his fingerprints were on the bomb package, which led the prosecutor, an Army lawyer, to comment, "That leaves one a conclusion that the bomb packaging — the box and the packaging — came from your Fiesta Flowers shop in that you had handled the box and packaging in some manner prior to it being mailed. Is that fair?"

"It had to be, yeah," Ortloff answered.

"So you don't contest the fact that the bomb mailed to Thad Gulcyznski at one time or another, the actual packaging was handled by you?" the prosecutor asked.

"That would be the only explanation."

Inevitably, Ortloff faced (and still does, more than two decades later) the looming question:

Who mailed the bomb to the soldier if not him?

"I've been locked up for six months," Ortloff replied at the trial, "and don't have the ability to find out like you people."

On August 15, 1986, that jury found Ortloff guilty.

Shortly after Ortloff's conviction, Tempe police asked the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to charge him with Kathleen Smith's murder.

But on October 1, 1986, a homicide prosecutor advised the cops, "There was inadequate evidence of participation, no reasonable likelihood of conviction, intent, or participation on the part of Robert Ortloff."

A probation officer wrote to the judge before the October 3, 1986, sentencing that Ortloff "believes [Kathleen Smith's father] David Smith is responsible for setting him up, and had the bomb sent to have Ortloff incarcerated."

That must have sounded wacky.

But the officer didn't know (nor, yet, did Ortloff) that David Smith had instructed a private investigator in February 1985 to bribe police or anyone else, with the ultimate goal of getting Ortloff prosecuted for murdering his daughter.

"I want this son of a bitch convicted, okay, before I have to kill him," Smith had said on tape to the investigator and others.

Also before sentencing, Tempe police sent a synopsis of their investigations of Kathleen Smith's murder and the attempted Subway bombing to the court, noting that Ortloff was "the prime suspect" in each.

Judge Walter Smith (no relation to Kathleen Smith) imposed the maximum sentence of 50 years, with no possibility of parole until at least 1999, 13 years down the road.

Ortloff was shipped off to a federal penitentiary in east Texas.

His legal saga was only just beginning.


In 1987, Ortloff's attorneys lost the appeal of his mail-bombing conviction with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after making what appears to have been a meager effort.

Ortloff started to visit the prison law library in Texarkana with great frequency, and sought transcripts of both of his trials, but he wouldn't get them for years.

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4 comments
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.

KW
KW

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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wacokid
wacokid

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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