The body of prominent Dallas attorney, Ira Tobolowsky, 68, was found after a fire at his home on May 13. A medical examiner has now ruled the death a homicide, according to CBS. The fire was initially thought to be suspicious, and Tobolowsky was the plaintiff in a contentious defamation lawsuit with an Austin attorney at the time of his death.
An anonymous individual told WFAA that before Tobolowsky was murdered he received an email that read: “I’m going to kill you.”
Here’s what you need to know now:
1. The Cause of Death Was Smoke Inhalation & Burns With Blunt Force Injuries
CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reported that Tobolowsky was alive when a fire broke out in his Dallas garage.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause of death was “Thermal burns and smoke inhalation in association with blunt force trauma.”
According to WFAA, multiple sources told the station the death of the prominent attorney was being investigated as a homicide soon after his death and that he had been doused with “some sort of fuel” before being set on fire. A fuel-filled bottle was found at the crime scene.
2. He Was a Plaintiff in a Contentious Defamation Lawsuit
Tobolowsky was a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit against Steven Aubrey and Attorney Brian Vodicka, according to the Dallas Observer.
According to Tobolowsky’s court filings, Aubrey and Vodicka had used “intentional lies, fraud, defamatory statements and ‘dirty tricks,’ in an effort to intimidate, harass, embarrass and discredit” Towolosky.
Aubrey’s brother, Buck, “accused him of attempting to deed properties to himself and of causing the default on a $1 million loan, among other transgressions,” the Dallas Observer reported. Aubrey then accused Buck of “stripping the trust of assets and moving them into a shell company he controlled.”
3. Aubrey & Vodicka Have Not Been Named Suspects in His Death
Though neither Aubrey nor Vodicka have been named suspects in Tobolowsky’s death, there have been suspicious happenings involving the court case the men were involved in.
Judge Moyé resided over the case against Aubrey and Vodicka, and was instructed to arm himself before traveling. According to Fox 4, Moyé believed there was a connection between the civil suit involving Aubrey and Vodicka, and the death of Tobolowsky.
“Our investigation is wide-ranging in regards to whether or not anybody’s a suspect,” Dallas Police Assistant Chief Randy Blankenbaker told the Dallas Morning News. Tobolowsky has “been a pillar in the legal community for a long time, so there’s a broad spectrum of investigative follow-up,” he continued.
4. He Received a Life-Threatening Email Before His Death
Days before he was murdered, the lawyer’s life was threatened, WFAA reported.
An anonymous source told WFAA that Tobolowsky had received an email that read: “I’m going to kill you.”
“If anyone does know anything or anyone has a tip on information, we beg you to be strong and come forward,” Tobolowsky’s son Michael said in an interview with Dallas Morning News. “What’s most important to me is that justice be obtained and Dad be remembered for his life.”
Tobolowsky’s family offered a $20,000 reward to anyone with information into the death. CrimeStoppers provided an additional $5,000 in hopes of helping efforts.
It is not yet known to the public who might have sent the threatening email.
5. He Was One of the Youngest Lawyers Admitted to the Bar in Texas History
According to his obituary, Tobolowsky “was one of the youngest lawyers admitted to the bar in Texas history, practiced law for over 45 years and argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1982.”
He was married to his wife, Debbie, for 39 years. He was also the father of three sons, Jonathan, Michael and Zachary.
“He devoted his life and career to protecting his family and others, to the end. Loved and respected by all, he was and will remain everyone’s hero,” the obituary stated.