A drug dealer may have faked his death to avoid capture.

A smiling Wallace Thrasher wearing an open collared shirt

Wallace Thrasher

 

Suspect:

Gender: Male
DOB: 6/27/40
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown
Defining Characteristics: Athletic build, likely to be employed as a pilot, has a scar on his arm

CASE DETAILS

On October 17, 1984, in western Virginia’s remote mountain wilderness, state troopers arrived on the scene of a small airplane crash.

Still strapped in the cockpit was a body, charred beyond recognition. In the back of the plane: twelve-hundred pounds of high-grade marijuana worth more than one million dollars.

The Burning remains of a small airplane crash with police investigating in the background

A plane crash touched off the investigation

Eventually, authorities would connect both the plane and the dead pilot to Wallace Thrasher, of Bland County, Virginia.

In high school, Thrasher was a member of the Key Club and the Latin club. He played on the football team and earned the nickname “Squirrel” for his ability to outrun trouble. Thrasher didn’t seem the type that would end up peddling drugs, but somewhere along the way his life took a wrong turn.

Beginning in the 1970s, Thrasher allegedly built an operation that flew tons of marijuana and cocaine into the western region of Virginia. Distributors then smuggled the drugs north to Chicago, Detroit, and other big cities. According to W. J. Evans, of the Virginia State Police, Thrasher often piloted the plane himself:

“He wasn’t afraid to let everybody know what he was doing. Basically, everybody that had contact with him at the airport and in the areas where he was doing his drug business knew he was transporting drugs.”

Thrasher used the drug money to live the good life. He and his wife owned a 10-acre country estate and basked in opulence and luxury.

Police investegators examining 1200 pounds of packaged marijuana found in the wreckage

They found 1200 lbs. of pot near the crash site

For 10 years, Thrasher stayed two steps ahead of the law, until the night of October 17, 1984, when one of his pilots slammed an airplane full of marijuana into a mountainside.

Two weeks later, investigators finally proved that Thrasher owned the plane. Detectives were planning to move in, but then an article appeared in the local paper. It said that Wallace had died in another plane crash, this one in Jamaica.

Virginia authorities tried to interview Thrasher’s widow, but she never made herself available. She remained in seclusion, but produced a death certificate documenting her husband’s fatal crash in Jamaica.

Police were able to prove that the death certificate was fraudulent. They also found no evidence of the Jamaican crash or any witnesses.

Small airplane touching down on a landing strip in the woods

Small planes were used to smuggle the drugs

Believing that Thrasher was still alive, the police filed charges against him. Eventually, his wife agreed to tell investigators all she knew.

When talking about the crash in Virginia, she said there had been a second pilot on board the aircraft. The pilot was injured badly, but managed to drag himself to a pay phone and call Thrasher.

Thrasher picked him up at the very moment police were racing to the crash scene. He knew that the plane could be traced back to him and only a matter of time before the authorities would be knocking at his door.

News Article from the Southwest Times titled, Pulaski native reportedly dies in crash with a photo of Wallace Thrasher

One report said he died in a different crash

Thrasher took the injured pilot to an out-of-state hospital, then dropped from sight. Thrasher’s wife said he stuffed a quarter of a million dollars in cash into a travel bag and left Virginia for Belize, in Central America.

She thought her husband was planning to buy a load of marijuana and return to the U.S. But some think that the Squirrel never intended to come home, and that the $250,000 was a down payment on a new life.

About a week later, Mrs. Thrasher received a call from one of her husband’s associates. The man told her that her husband had been killed in a plane crash on takeoff. Agent Donald Lincoln, of the Drug Enforcement Agency, described the crash:

“The fire had been so intense that, literally, the plane was burned down to the outline of a plane on the ground, and that there would be very little for them to send back and no reason for her to come down.”

Forged death certificate for Wallace Thrasher

The death certificate was a fake

Thrasher’s wife finally admitted that she had bought a fake death certificate and concocted the tale of a Jamaican plane crash. She said she was worried that her property would be c

onfiscated if authorities found out her husband was on a drug run when he died.

Then, in May of 1986, one of Thrasher’s former associates showed up. He had something he claimed was recovered in the crash: Wallace Thrasher’s wedding ring. The ring was in perfect condition, the inscription as sharp as the day it had been engraved. Agent Donald Lincoln, of the Drug Enforcement Agency, was suspicious:

“We find it kind of tough to believe that an aircraft could cause that amount of destruction to the point where literally the substructure of the plane was melted, and the ring itself would still be in that kind of condition.”

Did Thrasher really die in a fiery crash in the jungles of Central America? Or did “The Squirrel” once again dash to freedom? Agent Donald Lincoln believes he survived:

“I think that at the time that Mr. Thrasher disappeared, he was facing a lot of different problems, and it may have been opportune for him to, as they say, exit stage left.”


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season seven with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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10 Comments

  1. Bullrider411

    The only comment in this thread worth reading is that above re: exact acft type. QU-22B. I have physically met Wally alive and well. Operating from Cuba with another fugitive. Nothing can be done to me. CIA has employed Wally for years. DEA too pregnant with their own self worth! Good for you Wally! You slid the “bologne pony” right up their tail pipe!

    Reply

  2. Amondez Treadwell

    This government at it’s finest. #snowfall #WestCali

    Reply

  3. Anthony Craig Altizer

    They have not and never will find my uncle and I’m glad

    Reply

  4. Jordan Hudson

    In 2015, the indictment against Thrasher was dismissed as the investigators now believe the fugitive is probably dead and it would difficult to prosecute him anyway due to the large passage of time (i.e. no witnesses to testify against him).

    https://www.roanoke.com/news/crime/likely-dead-pilot-wallace-thrasher-won-t-be-prosecuted-on/article_371f15ac-89c1-5f1f-bbad-7b08eff75a44.html

    Reply

  5. Jmac

    The Beechcraft Bonanza that crashed in Fancy Gap was not capable of carrying 1200 pounds of marijuana. It was a Beech QU-22B … civilian Beech Model 36 Bonanza under the Pave Eagle II program. It could be flown manned or un-manned. It was equipped with a large oxygen tank and turbo charged engine for high altitude. Some versions had explosive wing bolts so they could be destroyed to prevent capture. They were used at least in the Vietnam arena. The fuel system in Wally’s plane had full leading edge tanks, tip tanks, tanks aft of the spars and piping for an auxiliary fuselage tank….very long range. It would not have been likely that Wally could have acquired this aircraft without help from government sources. In 1984, Beechcraft would not admit to the existence of this plane for support services stating aspects of the program were confidential.
    Wally also came into ROA airport in a Piper Navajo. It is reported that he crashed a Navajo in Independence village Stann Creek District, Belize. Wally also had a Piper Aztec in ROA that had previously shown Finnish registration. It also was equipped with very long range fuel tanks. This individual believes Wally was working with the DEA and is most likely still alive.

    Reply

  6. thinkingoutloud

    i think whever he is only he and his wife now and i’m sure he’s lowkey still selling drugs. he faked the whole $250,000 for central america to pretend like he was starting over. why would his wife go through all that trouble of him faking his death for him just to leave her in the end?? im sure hes some place where he could visit her.

    Reply

  7. Anonymous

    he shall never be found, consumed by earth .

    Reply

  8. J.Viper

    Run Squirrel Run!

    Reply

  9. Michelle

    Have there been any updates since this reported?

    Reply