Produced by Jonathan Leach and Caroline Sommers
Real Life NCIS agents report the murder of a 10-year-old seaman's daughter who has plagued the agency for three decades and the "unsolvable" assassination of the son of one Navy man and the promise to his family to solve the case.
NEVER FORGET: TAMMY WELCH
Few cases have hit NCIS agents as devastatingly and sustainably as 10-year-old Tammy Welch. Her story was barely written when she was murdered on August 27, 1984.
Tammy and her sister Jennifer were playing outside in a courtyard of an apartment when her family moved to a Navy home in Jacksonville, Florida, talk to her mother and leave Tammy alone outside. When she left again 30 minutes later, Tammy lay face down in the grass and dead. She had been brutally strangled and attacked.
The identity of Tammy's murderer would remain a mystery and, like so many unresolved cases, remain for years in the hope that one day justice will be served.
Michael Welch | Tammy's Dad : I always thought that Tammy would someday be someone special. … she was … an extraordinary child.
The grief of Tammy's father Michael, who was at sea murdering his daughter, her mother Nancy, and her younger sister Jennifer was unbearable.
Jennifer Welch | Tammy's sister : She was a spark. But it was the spark that made you feel everything about her. … Tammy and I loved ̵
Jennifer Welch : The loss of a sister hit me terribly. … It was not time to say goodbye. It was not time to move on. Every time I remember dancing, jumping and playing, it keeps rolling around the corner of the house.
1984 WJXT REPORT: Just a few minutes earlier, neighbors had seen how Welch played with her … younger sister. … Next, someone knew she was dead.
Michael Welch : As a father who has lost his daughter, it is very difficult. I never dreamed it would happen.
To date, Tammy's mother has never recovered from the loss of her daughter and left Michael and Jennifer to tell her family's painful story.
Jennifer Welch : Someone killed my sister Tammy … and my family deserves answers.
Lou Eliopulos | NCIS Investigative Review Specialist : There were … suspects at the top of our list. … But without physical evidence, there was no way to lock in or exclude one of them.
The original investigators interviewed every suspect in 1984. However, the case was officially closed with no clues and no new evidence less than a year later.
Lou Eliopulos : We feel compelled where a Navy depended on being killed while the service member operated their land … to investigate and resolve this case. … That motivates us.
From the day she was murdered, Tammy's case would haunt NCIS agents.
Jennifer Welch : Lou of NCIS … would stay in touch with me. … It was one of the things you could see that they carried my burden as well.
Lou Eliopulos : The reason we conduct this investigation is to judge the evil.
Lou Eliopulos : It's hard to turn your head around … how lucky this person was.
In 1999, NCIS Cold Reaction Team reactivated Tammy's case, which was determined to bring justice to her family.
Lou Eliopulos : We knew there was a killer out there. … We wanted to do everything possible to solve the case.
Lou Eliopulos : I can not tell you how many times you go through the photos and investigation reports to look for the clue you may have missed.
The investigators suspected that Tammy's killer had left DNA at the scene. The investigators were looking for forensic evidence – something that was not possible in 1984.
Bridgette Matter : In the 1990s, DNA was used to investigate crimes. It was a tool they had not used before.
Crime equipment from the crime scene did not produce any results, but when agents searched Tammy's shirt, they were hit.
Bridgette Matter : … Analysts actually found a … foreign DNA profile … This DNA did not belong to Tammy and had to be owned by the killer.
This new DNA profile would be crucial for NCIS in finding Tammy's killer.
Alan Mizrahi | Assistant State Attorney, 4th Judicial Circuit: When NCIS took over the investigation of the case, they tried to find every man in the apartment complex to try to obtain their DNA so that they could compare it to the DNA samples taken from Tammy.
But fifteen years had passed – and these suspects could be everywhere.
Pam Hazel | Assistant State Attorney, 4th Judicial Circuit : They literally flew around the country to search each of these men for … DNA cheek swabs to see if they could be compared to the evidence in the case.
NCIS was able to obtain DNA from more than a dozen potential suspects – including a key person from 1984: the construction of superintendent Marty Simms.
Lou Eliopulos : Simms was suspected of a neighbor who lived near the site of the corpse. She said she saw a maintenance man passing by. … He was interrogated pretty hard by our special agent.
Prosecutor Alan Mizrahi : Marty Simms … had the master key for all apartments in the complex. It would have been easy for him to enter and leave the apartments, and it would have been easy for him to take Tammy Welch with him and take her to an abandoned apartment.
Lou Eliopulos : Marty's alibi was that he overslept that day and did not come out of the apartment. His wife … confirmed that he was in bed at the time.
And when Simms & # 39; DNA did not agree with the new DNA profile, he was dismissed as a suspect.
When the investigation resumed, the agents shifted their focus to Welch's neighbor, James Jackson. He had been released in 1984, but until 2002 he had accumulated a long list of criminal convictions.
Prosecutor Pam Hazel : Jackson had been in the military earlier in his life. … and he was a cook.
Lou Eliopulos : James Jackson … was married and had two children, including a daughter at Tammy's age. … He stated that he knew nothing about the case and that he slept in his apartment … at the time her body was found.
When NCIS spoke with Jackson, he denied having ever known Tammy Welch, and readily provided his DNA to agents; but he was not a game either. Apparently in a dead end the case was close to getting cold again. Then NCIS got a call that would change everything. Lou Eliopulos: I received a call from the lab. And they said, "Good news and bad news, good news is we've found the contributor to the DNA, the bad news is that it's me."
For some unexplainable reason, a forensic analyst had transferred his own DNA to Tammy's clothes when the case was reopened.
Prosecutor Alan Mizrahi : One of the analysts … somehow put some of his DNA on this blouse … by sneezing or just talking. … Small particles of saliva can leave your mouth and land on evidence.
Agents worried that with this compromised DNA would they ever find Tammy's killer?
In 2004, however, a new suspect emerged – a former neighbor with a bizarre story about what happened on the day Tammy died.
A NEW SUSPECT?
Lou Eliopulos : One of the things you look at when reading the file in a cold case – you look at people who fit in [the] investigations. … Twenty years after the murder, one person called us and wanted to know … if the case is clear or not. … that was Michael Carver.
Bridgette Matter : Michael Carver was a friendly neighbor. He was a sailor who lived in the same apartment complex on the other side of the courtyard. … Tammy Welch knew Carver because she went to his house and played with his pets.
Twenty years after Tammy's murder, NCIS was contacted by Carver, who told the agent for the first time that Tammy had visited his home the day she died.
Lou Eliopulos : He was to help the family move and he … was visited by Tammy and said he was on his way there. Instead, he watched a television program and never came by.
After Carver learned what had happened, he told the agent that he had rushed into the courtyard and tried to revive Tammy. When the investigators arrived, he left the scene.
Bridgette Matter : Because Michael Carver had been silent all along … the investigators were very suspicious. Of course they thought he could be the killer. … and they had thought … that the murder could have taken place in his apartment.
Gregory Ford | Executive Assistant Director, NCIS Criminal Investigations : If we have an individual who offers … help … before … years, the investigators are rightly skeptical. … We take nothing for granted.
Agents soon realized that it would have been impossible for Carver to kill Tammy at his home and carry her body undetected across the yard. The agents realized that Carver was simply a victim of his own conscience.
Lou Eliopulos : Michael Carver … always felt guilty that he did not stop by … and helped the family move. … He believed that he could have prevented Tammy's death.
Bridgette Matter : Because of the compromised DNA, the killer was still out there. … So the investigators still had to find out who actually did this.
Prosecutor Alan Mizrahi : The time spent on this case to track false leads was enormous. Basically, years of false evidence has led detectives and crime labs not to hold Tammy Welch's killers accountable.
Lou Eliopulos : This case had to be resolved. You work so hard and you almost feel like you deserve a break.
In 2012, science would finally catch up with the investigation when Tammy's case received a substantial grant for advanced DNA testing – opening up new hope for identifying her killer.
Bridgette Matter : They used these advanced DNA tests for Tammy's sexual assault kit. … The study examined only male DNA.
Less than a year later, investigators discovered a partial DNA profile that excluded all male suspects – with one exception.
Lou Eliopulos [at his office desk]: … What we see is the DNA. … In this apartment complex lived only one person who corresponded to the unknown copy of Tammy Welch … and that was James Jackson.
Lou Eliopulos : I wait all these years. We finally have the break. And the break was incredible.
Jennifer Welch : I received the call from Lou at NCIS. He said, "We have him." I mean, you wait until you hear those words.
Bridgette Matter : In 2013, the Sheriff's Office of Jacksonville announced the arrest of James Leon Jackson.
JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF JOHN RUTHERFORD [to reporters]: I would like to announce an arrest in this vile murder case, which has been unresolved for 28 years.
James Jackson was charged with Tammy Welch's death for first-degree murder and sexual assault.
JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF JOHN RUTHERFORD [to reporters]: I would like to point out that they … have the Naval Criminal Investigative Service … really helped us hold the murderer of this child accountable.
But NCIS soon learned that the new DNA evidence linking Jackson to Tammy's murder would prove less than definitive.
Prosecutor Alan Mizrahi : Since DNA had deteriorated so much over the years, the Crime Lab could only compare a partial DNA profile.
Lou Eliopulos : It is not specific to a person. It is a fatherly connection. So that does not necessarily mean it's James Jackson's DNA. It could be James Jackson's father, James Jackson's son, James Jackson's cousin, everyone on his father's side.
NCIS interviewed all male relatives of Jackson. One by one, they were eliminated as suspects, and the agents were convinced that James Jackson was the killer. Jennifer Welch: When we were in court, part of me was very scared because the word "partly." … you can not get a partial cut. You can not do something in part, so it was huge.
Gregory Ford : With a partial DNA link in court … you never know how a jury will interpret this evidence.  Prosecutor Pam Hazel: Even if you have the perfect evidence. … you never know what's going to happen. … and in this case we had – less than perfect evidence.
After years of legal delay, Tammy Welch's alleged killer would finally put James Jackson on trial in 2018 for murder. In addition to the new DNA profile, the investigators would need hard evidence to win a conviction. And what they found was a confession – written in ink.
Bridgette Matter : Thirty-four years after Tammy's murder, the investigators discovered something that was extremely bizarre. While James Jackson is waiting for the trial, he is detained … and he gets the tattoo "Tammy Welch, 1984" on his lower back. 1984 is the year of her murder.
Lou Eliopulos : We thought that was significant. … The cross, when you look at it, actually looks like a wolf. … The muzzle with the eyes and the nostrils. … Typically, a wolf is considered a predator.
Jennifer Welch : The moment they told me he had tattooed their name … him … I had absolutely no doubt … the man I'd see was their murderer after all.
During his trial of facing the death penalty, 66-year-old Jackson continued to proclaim his innocence:
ADMINISTRATOR: Did you know that Tammy Welch  JAMES JACKSON: No. Never, knew – never knew her family.
Jackson testified that he had no idea about the "Tammy Tattoo" and claimed that he had asked a tattoo artist in prison. A remedy that was written without his knowledge.
JAMES JACKSON [in court]: It was a little girl … I would not kill a little girl.
But one of Jackson's prison colleagues testified that he confessed to killing Tammy while waiting for the trial.
INMATE / WITNESS [in court]: I just told him, "You can tell the truth." And he said, "If I do that, I'll never get out of jail."
But it was a testimony to Tammy's younger sister Jennifer, whom the prosecution had hoped would weigh on the jury's hearts.
Prosecutor Pam Hazel : Jennifer Welch testified the last time she saw her sister alive. … It was extremely emotional for everyone in the courtroom.
Jennifer Welch : I really wanted to … learn how to really forget. … I was a little girl who saw this every day.
JENNIFER WELCH [in court]: I walked on and then I saw her shoes and then she just lay there.
Jennifer Welch : But I absolutely would not and could not forget … because I wanted to be the voice she would never have.
Lou Eliopulos : On the 30th of November … the jury got the case and … they are for several in consultation hours … and the longer they are gone, the more nervous you become. … You never know what a jury will do.
Jennifer Welch : It felt like saying, "That's not good." … and my father actually started getting to the point where "we just lost".
After a three-day trial and nine-hour deliberations came to a verdict: blame for first-degree murder.
Jennifer Welch : The minute they said "guilty" … I was just like, "Oh my god, it's over." … I had waited 34 years – to hear a word. And I understood it.
Michael Welch : I have always said that hopefully I would live long enough to bring this person to justice.
Prosecutor Pam Hazel : One month later, the jury returned to hear the trial. … Michael Welch could finally say … James Jackson, what he had taken from this family.
MICHAEL WELCH [at sentencing]: In a few days we will celebrate another holiday, and I will stand there and find myself a free seat for the 35th year. … [In tears] Not a day goes by when daddy does not think of you Tammy Jean, my sweet daughter.
Jennifer Welch : I just remember that I thought, "I know what it's like to lose a child sister. I know what it's like to lose a best friend. God, leave me alone Never feel that you have to lose a child. "
When it was time to decide on Jackson's fate, all but one juror decided to spare his life.
Prosecutor Pam Hazel : I'm not sure if anyone says he does not deserve death. The jury only recommended life in prison.
It was a decision that Tammy's father found difficult to accept.
Michael Welch : I told the Florida attorney that justice was blind. … They gave him mercy for some reason. He gave her no mercy [emotional].
Lou Eliopulos : That was his daughter … and until you're in his shoes, you know, I can not give him that. And I can understand exactly where he's from.
Jennifer Welch [emotional]: Every time I think of her, the tears I cry. That's the love she gave. … that's her return.
Today, the memories of Tammy remain alive in the hearts of her family, who choose to remember her not because of the lost life, but because of the life that should have been.
Jennifer Welch : I've decided to name my daughter Tammy Jean. … To honor them, you would have to take their name and give back the world, Tammy Jean.
NEVER FORGET: RICKY WILTROUT
"We owe respect to the living, we owe the dead to the dead." That's the motto of the NCIS agents. To speak for the victims who can not speak for themselves is their mission in the quest for justice. Some of the worst cases these agents face are parents who lose a child. And the disappearance of Ricky Wiltrout was one of those cases.
Lou Eliopulos | NCIS Investigative Review Specialist : Ricky … had left the 10th grade. Everyone in the neighborhood knew him, they had lived there for years.
Ricky Wiltrout had a hard life from the start.
Special Agent Tony Suchy | NCIS : His mother said that he had fallen and landed on his head – as a small child, which led to some mental impairment.
Special Agent Bill Heath | NCIS : I think Ricky's chronological age and his mental age were a bit separated. He was considered a bit slow.
In 1997 Ricky lived at home with his parents Richard and Mary in Norfolk, Virginia. Ricky's father was a Navy man, and Ricky, a young man of 30, worked in the grocery store of the nearby Naval Base.
Lou Eliopulos: He worked as a bag boy and collected food carts at … The Navy Commissioner. He was very proud of his job. He carried his ID card with him everywhere.
Pilar Burns | Ricky's boss : Never have any complaints. Everyone just likes it. We just like him. He was just a nice person.
Ricky and his brother Scotty grew up in a working-class district called Glenwood Park.
Gregory Ford, Deputy Director, NCIS Criminal Investigations : Glenwood Park is a subdivision within the city of Norfolk, but it is surrounded by the Norfolk Naval Station. … There are railroad tracks on which the young people of the region gather during the day and in the evening and do what young people do.
That meant partying – sometimes with a troubled crowd. But Ricky always came home.
Lou Eliopulos : Ricky was very close to his parents, especially his mother.
Special Agent Tony Suchy : Spend a lot of time with his mother I would say he was a mom boy.
Lou Eliopulos : Sometimes he spent the night fishing, but he always called.
Special Agent Tony Suchy : He has never been away from home for more than a few hours without reporting to his mother. And she kept the back door open for Ricky.
Special Agent Tony Suchy : And then, on September 11, 1997, he did not come home that night. And he had not been home since. And I could not help but reach for Mary.
Greg Ford : This case was an absolute mystery to the family. Where was Ricky Wiltrout?
WHERE WAS RICKY?
The morning after the disappearance of Ricky Wiltrout, his mother stepped into action.
Special Agent Tony Suchy : Mary began to conduct what I would call her own investigation. Sie fing an, mit so vielen Freunden von Ricky zu sprechen, wie sie finden konnte. Und es war dieselbe Frage, die sie stellen würde: "Wo war Ricky?"
Special Agent Tony Suchy : Sie hat der Norfolk Police Department gemeldet, dass Ricky vermisst wurde, aber was ihr gesagt wurde – und es ist wahr – ist, dass Ricky 30 Jahre alt war … und er seine eigenen Entscheidungen treffen konnte. Es gab also wirklich keine Untersuchung per se.
Als Wochen zu Monaten wurden, schien Ricky Wiltrout in Luft aufgelöst zu sein – bis Februar 1999.
Special Agent Bill Heath : Einige Vermesser arbeiteten an Bord der Norfolk Naval Base in einem waldreichen Gebiet. Und sie stießen auf Knochen. … Und dann wurde NCIS benachrichtigt und ein Team von Agenten reagierte auf den Wald, um zu bewerten, was wir hatten.
Lokale Nachrichten berichteten über die Geschichte. Und beobachtete Rickys Bruder Scotty, der NCIS anrief.
Lou Eliopulos : Er… sah, wo sich die Überreste befanden, wusste, dass es sich um einen Bereich handelte, in dem sie herumhängen, Alkohol trinken, Gewehre abfeuern und rauchen würden Dope. Er wusste, dass sein Bruder in dieser Zeitspanne vermisst wurde und gab eine Beschreibung seines Bruders.
Scotty berichtete NCIS, was er wusste, aber es wurden keine sofortigen Maßnahmen ergriffen. In der Zwischenzeit durchsuchten die Ermittler den Tatort weiter nach Hinweisen, die möglicherweise erkennen lassen, um welche Knochen es sich handelt.
Special Agent Bill Heath : Eines Tages wurden sogar 20 Marines zum Tatort gebracht, und sie wurden bestellt. Gehen Sie auf Ihre Hände und Knie, kriechen Sie durch die Bürste und finden Sie Knochenfragmente.
Spezialagent Bill Heath : Wir haben nur ungefähr 56 Knochen von seinem Körper gefunden. Und Sie möchten, dass 206 einen vollständigen Menschen hat.
Unter den Entdeckungen: Der Kopf fehlte. Aber es gab einen Teil des Kiefers, einige lose Zähne, einen Oberarmknochen mit einer Schusswunde und einen Wirbel in der Nähe des Halses – mit Hinweisen auf scharfe Gewaltverletzungen.
Special Agent Bill Heath : I Ich meine, hier hatten wir Knochen mit einem Schuss, wir haben auch Knochen mit einer eingeschnittenen Wunde. Genau was ist los? … We had lots of unanswered questions.
Special Agent Bill Heath: Many of the time I've been awake literally at 2 a.m. staring at the ceiling going "What am I not seeing here?" I'm missing something.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: We rank our cases and work on our cold case homicides based on solvability factors. … This case was actually rated as zero: unsolvable.
But then, a few months after the discovery of the bones, Special Agent Tony Suchy came across that interview with Scotty Wiltrout, which had been filed away.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: The next step has to be to find Scotty Wiltrout, talk to him again and flesh it out to get some details about what he had said.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: I wasn't able to find Scotty right away. … He had moved to Tennessee with his parents. … And as I'm reaching a point of frustration, Scotty Wiltrout calls from Tennessee. … To me it was almost unbelievable. I don't know if I would call it luck, but certainly serendipity has struck here.
Mary Wiltrout was also on the phone.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: Mary talked to me for a long time about her son, Ricky, and the fact that it was so out of character for him to disappear.
Soon, Special Agent Suchy was on his way to Tennessee to meet Mary. She told him more about Ricky and the night he went missing.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: She made me coffee, fixed me something to eat. I held her hand as she cried.
There was a strong connection from the start. Suchy promised Mary he would one day bring Ricky home.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: And the more she talked, the more my intuition was screaming that more than likely I had the remains of her son and her son had been murdered.
Mary provided details on how to get Ricky's dental records and other key information.
Special Agent Bill Heath: She was able to give us names of individuals from Glenwood Park that had Ricky had been seen with at a local bar that night. She knew them by name … so we had a starting point with individuals that were last seen alive with our potential murder victim.
Marcus Gilmore, Eddie Hughes and Randy Shell — all friends of Scotty Wiltrout and no strangers to law enforcement.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: The first thing we did is ran criminal history. And all these guys had a record. One of the guys, Marcus Gilmore, had a particularly violent criminal history.
Lou Eliopulos: Marcus is a bully that has grown up in that neighborhood … and he threatens people. And then he has a group of subordinates that are scared to death of him.
Special Agent Bill Heath [to Special Agent Tony Suchy]: We had a suspect pool ready-made.
Lou Eliopulos: If you find the last person that saw him alive then you found the killer. … And so, you know, those are good leads that are coming in.
But they needed more. Special Agent Bill Heath made a stunning discovery when he went to the local police to check whether Gilmore, Shell or Hughes had permits to purchase a gun.
Special Agent Bill Heath: So, the Norfolk P.D. guy ran all the names through for gun permit purchases. He came back in about 10 minutes, he said I got one hit. I said, "What's the name?" He said, "I've got a Marcus Gilmore." … So, I asked the sergeant. "Do you have a date of purchase on that form?"
He did. Marcus Gilmore had purchased the gun two weeks before Ricky's murder.
Special Agent Bill Heath: So, I'm walking out of the station with that in my hand. I called Tony. I said, "Tony, the case is solved. Now we've just got to prove it."
In February 2000, dental records confirmed what the Wiltrout family had feared.
Special Agent Bill Heath: A forensic odontologist on the staff at the Medical Examiner's Office was able to examine the partial jawbone … and based on those X-rays and his exam he identified the remains as Ricky.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: My heart sank for Mary because I had to call her now and tell her not just that her son was dead, he didn't run away — he had been murdered.
But just as NCIS was beginning to make progress, world events brought the investigation to a standstill: the bombing of thein Yemen, and the 9/11 attacks here at home.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: After the attack on the USS Cole in October of 2000, there was a shift … where we were focusing on counterterrorism. And cold case homicide investigations were delayed. That only intensified after 9/11.
Special agents Tony Suchy and Bill Heath would have to wait nearly three years to unravel this tragic story: what happened on the last night of Ricky Wiltrout's life?
Special Agent Maureen Evans | NCIS: These guys were his friends: Eddie, Marcus and Randy. … And Ricky died thinking that he was with his buddies.
A PROMISE KEPT
Special Agent Tony Suchy: In the spring of 2003 we were finally able to refocus our resources on cold case homicide investigation. Which specifically included the Wiltrout case.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: At this point we thought we knew that our close circle of offenders were Marcus Gilmore, Randy Shell and Eddie Hughes.
And investigators knew exactly where to find Marcus Gilmore, the assumed ringleader: he was already in jail, serving time on drug charges.
Special Agent Bill Heath: Someone that's scared of him — less likely to talk about him. … He was incarcerated and could not be a physical threat to other people that we might be able to locate and interview.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: Now it's … time for our showdown.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: We're involving literally dozens of investigators to go to several different states to do … simultaneous interviews and interrogations within this 48-hour window.
Maureen Evans was one of several NCIS agents brought in to track down associates of Marcus Gilmore and the two remaining suspects, Randy Shell and Eddie Hughes.
Special Agent Maureen Evans: So, the day of the showdown … we were assigned the duty of trying to find Eddie Hughes … and interview him in reference to what he knew about the murder of Rick Wiltrout.
Special Agent Maureen Evans [outside the nightclub] So myself and my partner came down here to try to find Eddie at this location. … My partner's on this side and he basically says "Mo, look over … your shoulder." And sure enough, I did, and Eddie Hughes was actually walking down the street right behind us.
Special Agent Maureen Evans: I think initially when we interviewed him he was apprehensive. But then, all of a sudden, he just started telling us everything that he remembered that night. It was almost like it was a relief to him.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: He cracked, if you will. He gave the story that Ricky Wiltrout had been murdered by Marcus Gilmore and Randy Shell and that he had witnessed the homicide and was too afraid to say anything until firmly asked.
Special Agent Maureen Evans: We found out during that interview … how scared he was of Marcus … we had to reassure him that Marcus was in jail. And he was going to be in jail for a while.
Now agents needed to talk to Randy Shell and see if the stories matched up. They did.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: This is what we learned from Randy Shell. They're drinking at Nick's Bar. … It looks like they closed the bar down so it's right around midnight, maybe a little after midnight. And they decide to take a walk down the railroad tracks. … They actually cross over now into Naval Station Norfolk property.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: They had at some point walked down the tracks … Rick was walking first. Marcus Gilmore was directly behind him and then there was Randy Shell and Eddie Hughes.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: Marcus Gilmore took out a newly purchased … .44 revolver. And without provocation, shot Ricky Wiltrout in the back of the head. He died instantly, fell to the ground.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: Randy Shell says he's somewhat panicked by seeing Marcus Gilmore with a loaded gun.
What happened next stunned the agents.
Lou Eliopulos: Randy Shell takes the revolver from Marcus and fires the remaining rounds into the body.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: He said he was afraid of Gilmore and he had to show loyalty and so instead of shooting the bullets into the air he shot him into Ricky's back.
But for Marcus Gilmore, the night was still far from over.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: This is the place where Marcus Gilmore waded into the water and threw that handgun as far as he could into the ocean. Right behind him were Randy Shell and Eddie Hughes. My best guess is that dawn is breaking and this has been a long night for all of them.
Special Agent Bill Heath: Tony and I would discuss the fact that there appeared to be no motive in this case. We often wondered if it was just Gilmore wanting to try out a new gun.
Special Agent Maureen Evans: I mean it's a very sad story. … He was hanging out with his buddies, he had a couple beers … and then Marcus just decides to end his life.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: This seems to be a case of … bullying taken to the extreme. Murder for sport.
Marcus Gilmore entered a plea to charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm. He got 15 years. Randy Shell pleaded guilty to the same charges and got 13 years. Eddie Hughes also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year for accessory-after-the-fact to murder.
With the case closed, it was now time for Special Agent Tony Suchy to carry out the promise he'd made all those years ago: to bring Ricky home.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: I actually went and took … Ricky's remains — and drove them down to Tennessee. …And the next day we had Ricky's funeral.
Special Agent Tony Suchy: One of the things I said to Mary as I spoke about Ricky's life was that … all that pain that you feel, Mary, Ricky never felt any of it. … It seemed to be the right thing to say at the time and I hope it was comforting to her.
Today, Mary Wiltrout is in a nursing home.
Tragically, Scotty Wiltrout was killed in a car accident in 2007. Ricky's father passed away in 2011. But everyone lived long enough to see justice served for Ricky.
Lou Eliopulos: It's nice when you take a case like that and put it together … and then with someone like Special Agent Suchy dealing with the family and being accepted as like a family member and telling her that, you know, he's gonna bring her son home, and he did.