Tokars said Ortloff subsequently gave him "bits and pieces" of information about Smith's murder over the next month and showed him a police report about the 1984 case.

"Did he give a reason why he killed her?" the detective asked.

"Jealousy and money," Tokars replied. "And once she found out that he stole money from the business, she was gonna turn him in to her father and the police, and they were gonna criminally prosecute him. Are you familiar with this?"

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.


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"I'm very familiar," Magazzini said.

With increasing detail, Tokars described how Ortloff and Kathleen Smith had gotten into a big argument at her home on the morning of October 5, 1984, "and basically [she] was gonna throw him out, and so they just got into a fight and he hit her over the head. Then he said that he left and went and got the gasoline and came back and basically disposed of the body by burning it."

In another discussion some days later, Tokars claimed, Ortloff said he "actually planned on doing it. I guess he had gloves and he also took rope with him, and his plans initially were to strangle her, but it didn't happen that way."

Ortloff allegedly told him that being busted for stealing money from the ROKS Subway business account was going to cost him everything, and that "he just couldn't control his emotions, the built-up jealousies over the years of having Kathleen having everything and him not being able to have stuff."

"Did he advise what he used to burn?" the detective asked.

"He used gasoline," Tokars said, adding that in Ortloff's amended account he had described bringing the gas with him into the condo.

"And he made a wick out of toilet paper, which, according to him, would last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, depending on the strength of the gas he was using." In a second interview, Tokars would expand the alleged wick's time span to up to an hour.

(Tempe fire inspectors later would say that the wick theory, while technically plausible, would have allowed Kathleen's assailant no more than a minute or so to get out of the ignited condo, not an hour or anything close to that.)

The reason for the wick, Tokars continued, was "that no matter what happens, he was back at the flower shop by 10:30, 10:40, when the murder allegedly occurred, or at least when the fire started, if you will."

Tokars volunteered, "I can tell you he went there wearing athletic clothing, like athletic shoes, shorts, and a T-shirt because he said a lot of university students lived there and he wanted to blend in."

This was a very important comment.

Remember that Lisa Pickett and her grandmother Ina Weisbaum described a man fleeing from Kathleen's condo wearing exactly that outfit. Unfortunately for prosecutors, it turns out that the sneaker print that the mystery man left in a wet flowerbed in front of the pair was about four sizes smaller than Ortloff's size-13 foot.

Tokars said he'd be willing to take a polygraph test, and that all he was seeking was "protection" from Ortloff and other inmates.

"Hey, Tom, are you interested in pursuing this?" Tokars asked at the end of his first performance with the detective.

"Oh, yes," Magazzini replied. "Very much so."

The transcript of Fred Tokars' 2004 testimony against murder defendant Dustin Honken in the Iowa case is strikingly similar to the story he told Detective Magazzini and soon will be telling at Robert Ortloff's trial:

In both cases, Tokars says he's not looking for any breaks or special deals from the government. Like Ortloff, Honken confronts him about being a former prosecutor and judge, and threatens to spread that news among other inmates if he doesn't help with legal matters.

Tokars initially begins to work on one case for Honken/Ortloff but reluctantly is drawn into discussing their unsolved murder cases. Over time, he confronts Honken/Ortloff with inconsistencies in their stories. He is frightened of where this might lead, but Alan Bell urges him to play along. He reads only small portions of legal documents provided by the men.

Honken/Ortloff's original plan had been to strangle their victim with a rope, but instead ended up bashing him/her over the head with a blunt object.

It was almost note-for-note.

On July 22, 1999, three weeks after Magazzini spoke with Tokars, Robert Ortloff wrote to the U.S. attorney in Wisconsin that someone had "rifled through legal files in my possession."

Ortloff said he was missing documents that showed how the Smith family and Tempe police "were working in concert to falsely link me to a murder and how that [unsolved murder case] is interwoven with my federal conviction."

Without mentioning Fred Tokars by name, he described how "an ex-lawyer and judge gave me the name of an attorney to contact," and that Ortloff had sent that lawyer (Alan Bell) documents "which echoed most of my civil rights statement, which was stolen."

Perhaps, Ortloff knew he was in a pickle because he had confeessed to Tokars — who no longer was in the general population at Oxford — and he had to document his "concern" about the missing documents.

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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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