January 25, 2018. Our program featured Bill Tonkin who retired after a 32-year career with the FBI. Bill was volunteered to serve as the media spokesperson for the Newark FBI division in 1991. This placed him in a unique position to witness the events of a high-profile crime. At that time, the Reso family lived in a modest house in Morris Township, NJ. Sidney Reso was the CEO of Exxon yet still drove himself to work every day. On April 29, 1992 he stopped at the end of his driveway to retrieve his newspaper. Arthur and Jackie Seale were waiting. A struggle ensued, and Sidney was shot in the arm and whisked a way in a van. He was shackled, gagged, and placed in a coffin-like wooden crate in a storage locker. Sidney Reso would die in that crate.
Arthur and Jackie proceeded with their ransom demands. Under the guise of “Warriors of the Rainbow” they masqueraded as environmental activists and demanded $18.5 million. It took Exxon only 24 hours to deliver the cash to the Reso household. Communications stretched on for weeks without the authorities knowing that Sidney was already dead. Eventually a pattern developed. The phone calls from the extortionists came from telephone booths in rural areas. 100 agents were deployed to stake out phone booths. One agent noticed a woman who wore latex gloves when using the pay phone. The license plate on her car was from a rental agency. Agents waited at the agency until Arthur and Jackie showed up to turn in their car. The criminals were now in custody. Jackie accepted a plea deal and led authorities to the shallow grave of Sidney Reso. She served 17 years before being paroled. Arthur Seale remains in a South Carolina prison serving 95 years plus a life term.
Bill’s presentation serves as a reminder that there is evil lurking in our world. The face of evil comes in many forms. Arthur Seale was clean-cut with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was a former policeman and worked security at Exxon. The world is now safe from Arthur Seale but for the Reso family, the damage is permanent.