Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Timothy Coombs

Real Name: Timothy Thomas Coombs
Aliases: James Wilson, William Patterson, Cal Liberty
Wanted For: Terrorism, Attempted Murder
Missing Since: September 1994


Details: Timothy Coombs is a member of the Freeman Movement, a loosely-knit brotherhood of domestic terrorists held together by a pathological mistrust of the United States Government. Most Freemen do not acknowledge the US legal system's authority and see common law courts as a way to circumvent the government and believe that most laws don't apply to them. Robert Joos is a self-styled minister and leading advocate of the Freeman Movement. In 1985, he was convicted of drafting a bogus court order in the case of one of his parishioners who was arrested in a minor traffic offense.
For nine years, Joos hid out on his farm as he contested the conviction, but in June of 1994, the new prosecuting attorney ordered the Highway Patrol to arrest Joos. Because Joos had a history of resisting arrest, they decided to avoid an armed confrontation on his property. They decided to wait until Joos was alone on a country road to make an arrest, which Sergeant Steve Dorsey and Corporal Bob Harper did after confronting him and taking him to the McDonald County Jail.
As he awaited trial, another follower decided to take action on the highway patrol. On September 16, 1994, Corporal Bob Harper was celebrating his 33rd wedding anniversary when a shot exploded through the kitchen window, striking Bob in the chest. The bullet pierced Harper's rib cage, missing his heart by just 1/16 of an inch, but amazingly, he survived. The next day, investigators found a shell casing from a semi-automatic rifle in an area of trees, 245 feet from Bob's kitchen window.

Bob harper1.jpg

Authorities believed that Bob's shooting was directly related to Robert Joos's arrest. When some officers went to Joos's farm to speak with his girlfriend, they were met by an armed man who identified himself as James Wilson. As they approached him, he shouted religious chants; they spoke to him for about thirty minutes. The next day, authorities identified Wilson as Timothy Thomas Coombs, who had a violent background and spent several years in jail on various weapons charges.
By the time authorities searched Joos's farm, Coombs vanished. However, investigators discovered a large arsenal which included pistols, rifles, and more than forty sticks of dynamite. That same day in Arkansas, Coombs's neighbor gave investigators a bullet that had struck one of his horses, probably by Coombs while he was doing target practice. Investigators also found shell casings that matched the casings found outside of Bob Harper's window.
Authorities believe that Coombs and Joos worked together in the shooting of Bob Harper, especially because of the gun that Joos had purchased three weeks before the shooting, which matched the one used by Coombs. However, Joos maintains that he was not responsible, and to this day, only Timothy Coombs has been charged in the case.
Sadly, Bob Harper later died during surgery of a pre-existing heart condition; Coombs did not cause his death and is only wanted for attempted murder. Authorities believe he has gone underground and is being hidden by other members of the militia. He is 5'8", 135 pounds, has brown hair, blue eyes, and was born on February 21, 1959.
Extra Notes:

  • This segment ran for the first time on May 3, 1996.
  • He was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
  • Supporters of Tim Coombs believe he is being unjustly persecuted by the government, disavowing all of his criminal and terrorist activities. There is no known validity to these claims.

Results: Wanted. In July of 1996, the bodies of William and Nancy Mueller and their daughter Sarah were found in a swamp. It was discovered that the three had rented a house from their business associate, Coombs. It was initially suspected that he may have been involved. However, their murders were later connected to Chevie Kehoe, an associate of Coombs. Kehoe was later convicted of the murders and sentenced to 3 life sentences. Coombs is not believed to have been involved in the murders. Kehoe's crimes was documented on The FBI Files, American Justice, and Swamp Murders.
A $100,000 reward is being offered for information in this case. In 1997, Joos was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon. After spending time in prison, he was released. However, he was later arrested for his involvement in a hate-crime bombing. In 2010, he was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison. Coombs remains at large; investigators believe that friends and relatives are hiding or aiding him.