Fred Tokars is dead. He has lived for the past 28 years in federal prison. He died in prison — the past decade, he lived under the protection of the federal witness protection program. In 1997, Tokars received a life sentence for murdering his wife, Sara Tokars.
In 1992 Tokars and I shared an executive suite of offices with other attorneys on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. A tall gaunt man, he often came to the office in faded blue jeans accompanied by a wrinkle tee shirt, and a pair of brown penny loafers, which he wore without socks. His mother, a non-lawyer, was his only office employee. She dressed similar to her son. I do not think I ever saw her with her hair professionally styled, or wearing a dress.
It struck me that while clients were in and out of my office, I saw very few clients visit with Tokars. One day when I went to the restroom, a familiar face walked into the room. I recognized him as Johnny Ford, Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama, where I had attended undergraduate school.
I struck up a conversation, letting him know that I cast my first ballot for him in 1970 to become Mayor of Tuskegee. He thanked me. I was curious to know who he was there to see and was shocked when he said, “Fred Tokars.” Hardly anyone came to see him, at least, not during daylight hours. Nevertheless, Tokars appeared to prosper.
Sara Tokars received fatal gunshot wounds in front of the couple’s two sons, ages four and six after they had arrived home from sharing Thanksgiving Day with relatives in Montgomery, Alabama. Fred Tokars stayed behind in Montgomery, stating that he had to meet a client in Alabama on the following day.
The murder began to unravel quickly when the police snared a crackhead who worked for Tokars and had been recruited by Tokars to find a gunman, Curtis Rowe, to place a hit on Sara Tokars.
Sara threatened to file for divorce and expose her husband’s role in a major drug ring in the Atlanta area. She had discovered where Fred stashed his cash and records of others involved in this criminal scheme with him. Additionally, Fred had a $1.75 million insurance policy on his wife, who did not work outside the home.