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Wallace Thrasher

Real Name: Wallace Samuel Thrasher
Aliases: Squirrel
Wanted For: Drug-Trafficking
Missing Since: October 17, 1984

Case

Details: Wallace Thrasher of Bland County, Virginia, made his money by trafficking illegal drugs during the 1980s. However, his organization came to an end on October 17, 1984, when one of his planes crashed in the dense Virginia wilderness. Investigators came upon the scene to find the charred body of its pilot, Mark Bailey, along with 1200 pounds of marijuana, with a street value close to $1 million.
From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Wallace's operation flew tons of marijuana and cocaine into the western region of Virginia. Distributors then smuggled the drugs into Chicago, Detroit, and other big cities. He often piloted the planes himself and his neighbors considered him a local hero. Thanks to the money brought in from his operation, he and his wife Olga bought a ten-acre estate and surrounded themselves with luxury.
For over a decade, Wallace seemed to be one step above the law. Of course, everything changed when Mark Bailey crashed his plane into the mountainside. After the 1984 crash, it took two weeks for investigators to conclusively determine that he owned the plane. As they planned to move in and arrest him, an article appeared in the local paper, titled: "Pulaski native reportedly dies in crash".
Soon after, Virginia investigators tried to speak with Olga. A man at her home claimed that they could not speak to her. The man told them that Wallace had died in a plane crash in Jamaica on November 5, 1984. Investigators were suspicious; a few weeks later, she produced a death certificate for her husband. Still suspicious, investigators sought to verify the information. It was later determined that the certificate was fraudulent. No witnesses were found to say that there ever was a crash in Jamaica.
Investigators decided to file charges against Wallace. Olga was questioned again and she told them about the night of October 17, 1984. She claimed that there was a second pilot on the plane who had survived - Nelson King. While firefighters and police raced to the crash scene, Wallace picked him up at a nearby gas station. Wallace then took him to his home where Olga tried to help treat his injuries.
Wallace later took Nelson to an out-of-state hospital. Two weeks later, Wallace left on a small plane with $250,000, heading to Belize. He planned to buy a load of marijuana and return to the United States. However, investigators believe that he used the money to start a new life. Olga claims that she later received a phone call from his friends in Belize. They claimed that Wallace had died in a takeoff crash in Belize. They also claimed that the post-crash fire was so extensive that no identifiable remains could be found.
Olga later admitted to creating the fake death certificate in order to have access to Wallace's estate. She believed that her property would be confiscated if investigators learned that her husband had been on a drug run when he died. However, investigators were still suspicious of the alleged plane crash in Belize. In May 1986, one of Wallace's associates met with Olga. He claimed to have found his wedding ring among the plane's ashes. However, investigators believe that the ring was in too good of a condition for it to be in a fiery plane crash.
To this day, Wallace's family and friends claim that he died in the crash, but evidence suggests he is still very much alive, either somewhere in Florida or the Caribbean. He has been sighted several times since his "death" and if he is still alive, he would be in his early eighties. He is 5'10", 175 pounds, blue eyes, and brown (now probably gray) hair.
Extra Notes: This segment ran for the first time on February 10, 1995. He was also featured on America’s Most Wanted.
Results: Unresolved. In August 2015, the indictment against Wallace was dismissed under the belief that he is likely deceased. Investigators now believe that he most likely died in the Belize plane crash. However, neither he nor his remains have ever been located. Investigators have noted that even if he was found alive, it would be difficult to prosecute him because witnesses are unavailable and too much time has passed.
In 2020, a book titled "Chasing the Squirrel" was released about Wallace. The author interviewed several of those close to the case, including former investigators and his family. Some believed that he died in the Belize crash, while others believed that he faked his death and may still be alive. A documentary about the book and the case is currently being produced.
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