Close friends of Tom Wales hopeful for justice after possible break in the cold case

SEATTLE - It has been 18 years since the assassination of federal prosecutor Thomas Wales, but many in the region still remember him and his contributions.

Close friend Bill Harwood says oftentimes people exaggerate others in death, but he says Wales needed no exaggeration.

“Tom was an incredible individual, he was a natural-born leader but yet he could have so much fun,” Harwood said.

A new development that an Everett woman has reportedly been charged with lying about a suspect's statements in connection with Wales' killing could potentially be a big break in the cold case.

Friends are encouraged by the news.

“We’ve been waiting for 18 years for something to break. I don’t have all the details, but we have our fingers crossed that this is the beginning of the process that will lead to justice,” Harwood said.

Harwood went to high school and then Harvard with Wales. He says even back then he knew Wales would make waves.

“When he believed in something and he was passionate about it he gave all of himself,” Harwood said.

Before the murder, the 49-year-old became a well-known community and political activist, campaigning hard for gun control, an unusual step for a federal prosecutor.

“All the innocent victims of gun violence, it’s something he felt passionate about for a long time,” Harwood said.

Outside of the courtroom, he worked for Washington Ceasefire and was outspoken about his views on guns.

The unsolved assassination of Wales has haunted friends and family for so long. That sentiment is shared by many prominent figures.

Former US Attorney John McKay stepped into his role right after the prosecutor’s murder.

“His office was covered by yellow police tape, it was very traumatic for myself and my new colleagues at the time,” McKay said.

McKay also said that Wales was highly respected and loved within his office. State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez used to work within that office.

“He was gregarious, he was fun, he had a good sense of humor and his integrity was beyond question,” Gonzalez said.

The case also means a lot to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“Tom Wales was a federal prosecutor, a civic leader, a colleague, and a strong advocate for responsible gun laws - before he was gunned down in his home. Beyond his advocacy, Tom was a loving father and a personal friend who meant a lot to me personally. We can solve this murder,” Durkan said.