Real Name: Kelly Lee McGinnis
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: August 12, 1996
Details: Sixty-six-year-old Thomas Meyer was the city attorney of Greenville, Illinois. On August 12, 1996, he was found shot to death in an alley. Tragically, his best friend John King (who was also the police chief) was one of the first to arrive at the scene. Although there were no witnesses to the shooting, Kelly Lee McGinnis became the prime suspect; the two had recently clashed in court. Thomas had represented McGinnis' ex-wife in a bitter custody battle over their two young children. Custody had been awarded to his ex-wife, but McGinnis had received visitation rights. He apparently refused to accept the decision as final.
Just hours before the murder, McGinnis was back in the courtroom, still angry about being denied custody. At around the time of the shooting, McGinnis was seen sitting in a minivan near the alley where Thomas was killed. He was also seen leaving the area shortly after the shooting. Before McGinnis could be questioned, he vanished. As the days passed, some speculated that he had committed suicide.
Ten days after the murder, however, he sent five threatening letters to different individuals from central Illinois. Two went to local newspapers and complained about corruption in the judicial process. In part, he stated: Clearly the only winner in a divorce case is the lawyers. Their gains being made at the expense of the children. Two others were sent to relatives and the final one was sent to a friend. According to authorities, at least one of those letters was more personal, apologetic in tone, and seemingly remorseful.
The town of Greenville is now in fear; those involved in McGinnis's custody dispute are afraid that he will kill them as well. His ex-wife and children have since left town, their whereabouts a secret. His attorney is under protection of U.S. Marshals. Guards have increased security at the courthouse. Finally, Ann Callis Rongey, the judge that ruled on the case, has gone into hiding with her children. Kelly McGinnis is wanted for first degree murder and is considered armed and dangerous. A $5000 reward is being offered in the case.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 13, 1996 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Captured. On September 26, 1996, McGinnis showed up at the office of his former attorney in Vandalia, Illinois. The secretary recognized him and locked the door. He then fled the scene. On November 6, 1996, McGinnis showed up at the office again. This time, he opened fire with a shotgun; fortunately, no one was injured. He was arrested as he left the building. McGinnis pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to sixty years in prison. He received an additional ten years for the office shooting. In January of 2018, he died of pneumonia while serving his prison term; he was sixty-one.
- Kelly McGinnis on Unsolved Archive
- Judge hides as hunt for murder suspect continues - August 22, 1996
- New Leads in Illinois Killing - September 18, 1996
- McGinnis gets ten years added for office gunfire - September 27, 1997
- Judge, son recall life in hiding -
- He gunned down a lawyer and put the region on edge for 87 days. Two decades later, he has no remorse. - August 18, 2017
- Illinois man who killed wife's divorce lawyer dies in prison - January 30, 2018
- Thomas Meyer on Find a Grave