POST FALLS, Idaho -- This week marks 15 years since anyone has reported seeing Roxann (Roxi) Tolson. The timeline in this missing person's case is tricky though because the 45-year-old wife and mother wasn't officially reported missing until several weeks later. Police and family believe Roxann is deceased.
For the first time, Roxi's son Lawrence is talking about what he thinks happened that awful August night.
"It was definitely a crime of passion because he did love her," Lawrence said. "And in the end, the guilt ate him up."
Lawrence is talking about his father, William (Bill) Tolson.
"They were married 25 years when she came up missing," he said. "They had a good marriage. They had their spats, like any couple."
But Lawrence says he believes 2005 is the year the cracks in the marriage became too much.
"Once I started to become of age, I think their marriage slowly started to dissolve," he said. "There was nothing keeping them together anymore."
Lawrence says there was domestic violence in the household over the years. And he tried to defend his 5'1, 105-pound mother against his 6'1, 240-pound dad.
"I told my dad, if you ever lay your hands on my mom, I’ll knock you out," he said.
Lawrence says he saw fights get physical growing up, and knew shortly before his mother vanished that their marriage was likely over. When Roxi disappeared, there were theories that she took off on her own and wanted to get away from her husband. She was tiny, but her smile was big and bright. Police believe she was slowly getting more confidence and independence
Records show a taxi driver alleged he gave the petite brunette a ride to the airport. Lawrence said detectives worked that lead hard and found it was bogus.
"Yeah, that was a false lead," he said. "I think that was a guy wanting attention. They looked into that, he lied. She was never taken to the airport."
Post Falls Police say neighbors reported hearing a heated argument in the Tolson home along Mullan Avenue in mid-August 2005. No one ever saw Roxi again. KHQ asked Lawrence if his father ever looked for his mother.
"No," he said. "I always knew in the back of my mind, but it took me a long time to accept it. I’m at an age now and a point in my life, and I’m like this is how I feel, this is how things happened. I was in denial for over a decade, almost two. It wasn’t until the past few months that I started to grip and grasp...this is reality."
Larry has never given an interview to media. He wanted to share why he is now.
"Because I’m ready," he said. "I’m at a point in my life where I need to say what I feel. This is how I feel and this is what I think really happened. This is something I have never put out there, but in my heart, I don’t feel that she is with us anymore. I think that when my dad passed away, I think we lost any possibility of finding any genuine truth on that."
William Tolson died in 2014. Post Falls Police have stayed aggressive on trying to find the truth in this case for several years. They even asked a retired FBI agent for help. The agent hoped for the best and tried to get William to share what happened just before he passed.
"When he was on his death bed, (the FBI agent) went there and said, 'these are your final moments, can you tell us what happened,' and even on that day he denied it," Lawrence said. "But I believe in my heart he did and he lied. I think he didn’t want to disappoint family."
Especially, his mother.
"We don’t think that he really fully said or came out with anything because he didn’t want to disappoint my grandma," Lawrence said. "She passed away recently, and now the family is more open to discussion."
Roxi had a history of mental health struggles, and her son says that sometimes lead to explosive, out of control arguments. It's his belief one went too far, ending in Roxi's murder.
"I don’t think it was intentional though," he said. "I think it was a crime of passion to be honest. I don’t think he would have done something premeditated. I don’t think it was premeditated. I think they got into an argument. She was mentally ill. She was difficult to handle sometimes. I think they got into an argument and maybe he pushed her.
Lawrence says he thinks the grief and guilt slowly killer his father.
"He was never able to cope with the truth himself," he said. "He died with a lot of regrets. He spiraled into a deep depression. He gained a lot of weight; he went into pill habits. It destroyed him in the end. I think he’d still be here. This haunted him."
Post Falls Police say William Tolson has remained at the top of their list for several years.
"This case took all sorts of twists and turns over 15 years," said Chief Pat Knight. "There are a ton of red flags."
And they all seem to involve Roxi's husband.
"This is one of our only open cases," Chief Knight said. "In my career, in Captain McClean's career. This nags at us."
And they share Lawrence's gut feeling about what may have happened.
"Neighbors say they got into a heated argument (that night,)" McClean said. "I think it was maybe accidental or maybe even on purpose, but (we believe) Roxann died that night."
Time has not been on their side. The several week delay in even knowing they had a potential homicide on their hands, has been a huge challenge. In fact, William, didn't even alert the police that she was missing until another relative of Roxi's began making noise about having no contact with her. They learned her husband had been collecting her S.S.I checks and prescriptions for months. He also sold a vehicle that was in her name.
"Yeah, those red flags...they kept popping up," they said.
There were also numerous inconsistencies in his story, according to the PD. William had moved to Rathdrum after Roxi vanished, and his first police contact was with their agency. Post Falls PD learned, when they took over as this was in their jurisdiction, that he told them Roxi was last seen wearing jeans, white tennis shoes and a blue tee-shirt.
"But when we interviewed him, he said she was wearing pajamas and a pink, white tank top," Chief Knight said.
And then there was the apparent rush to get rid of her stuff. Things like make-up, hair tools, even some precious mementos were up for available for purchase.
"Yeah there was a garage sale....he sold a lot of her belongings," investigators said. "Her car was one of them. The story of what she took kept changing too. At one point, he told us she packed (her things) into garbage bags...(The mention of) garbage bags gave us the indication...maybe he did something with her body with garbage bags."
There were also whispers, that made their way back to detectives, that Roxi's body had been placed in cement.
"There were rumors that she was buried under concrete somewhere," McClean said. "Bill's brother owned a concrete business, and Bill worked with him for a while. We tried to work that angle that Bill put her in a foundation somewhere, but he (Bill's brother) didn't want to cooperate much. And he passed away shortly after Bill."
And even if that theory is a dead end, the agency knows there is no shortage of rural spots where Roxi may have been dumped.
"The area we live in, nothing but lakes and mountains...you know the area we live in, if you want to dispose of a body you can do that pretty simply," investigators said. "Especially if you're the only one who knows about it."
So, is that it? The detectives sure hope not.
"Eventually at some point, maybe someone will stumble across human remains," they said.
Both police and Lawrence are confident, Roxi has been dead for years. They both believe she was likely killed in August of 2005.
Despite a thorough search of items (including that car of Roxi's) and his home, backyard and other locations associated with William, they never found any physical evidence tying him to her suspected murder. Or, anything that confirms a murder occurred at all.
The police say William was less than cooperative with the investigation. Lawrence on the other hand says he did want to help then and still does now.
"I’ve taken a polygraph test and passed them all," he said. "I’ve always been more than happy and willing to help them out in any means."
The father and son duo did get in some legal trouble for collecting Roxi's prescriptions while she was gone back in 2006. Lawrence says back in those early months, he thought she may still be alive. He says when it comes to that, he's filled with regret.
He says he misses his mother all the time.
"Every day, I wish she was here," he said. "I wish...I had some kind of closure. Even a spec of something, someone saying, 'we saw something that day.' I don't know. Anything. I just wish I had closure."
If you know anything about what happened to Roxi Tolson in August of 2005 in Post Falls, Idaho please call PFPD.