Sara Ambrusko was born into a lively family of seven girls. The Amherst, New York, family had a strong sense of family and understood the importance of hard work. Their physician father and full time Mom were immigrants to the U.S., who worked hard to provide their daughters with all of the things they needed and some of luxuries they wanted.
Even as the girls grew up and began establishing their own families in cities scattered from coast to coast, they remained close to their parents and one another.
Love and Marriage
Sara loved life. Beautiful and outgoing, Sara was often the life of the parties she attended as a single gal. But she wanted more. She wanted a husband, a home, and children, just like many of her sisters already had.
Her first attempt at marriage didn’t turn out as she planned. Not because Sara didn’t try, but it’s difficult to make a marriage work with someone who can’t remain faithful. And Sara was heartbroken but determined to move on. She wasn’t ready to give up on love – not just yet.
Life could be a little lonely for a girl in the big city of Atlanta, a city almost as far from her childhood home in New York as one could get. But it wasn’t too bad. After all, her parents had retired to a Florida city just nine hours South and she had her job as a club promoter for some of Atlanta’s hottest clubs.
But the void was still there.
One afternoon as Sara was watching a television news conference, she spotted a familiar face. The Assistant District Attorney making a statement was no other than Fredic “Fred” Tokars, a boy from her old neighborhood.
Sara had never known Fred very well. She’d had more interaction with his brother who had dated her sister, but he was a familiar face in a town where she knew so few. She decided to give him a call.
Fred remembered Sara and seemed glad to hear from her. In the that same first phone call, he asked her on a date and Sara readily said yes.
Little could she have known that one simple reply would set her on a deadly path.
Soon Fred and Sara were married. She believed that all of her dreams had come true. She had a successful husband, a beautiful home, and a great job. The only thing left on Sara’s wish list was children.
But by the time their first son was born, Sara was already becoming disillusioned with the marriage.
Just before their son was to arrive, Fred suddenly quit his job as an Assistant District Attorney to pursue private practice. Fred knew Sara had dreamed of being a stay-at-home Mom and the couple was too far in debt for her to do that while Fred built up his practice.
So Sara begrudgingly returned to work as soon as she was able. In the meantime, Fred was representing the city’s lowest class criminals; drug dealers who peddled their products in Atlanta’s housing projects and night clubs.
Even though Sara worked all day and had an infant to take care of at night, Fred was seldom home. Using his practice as an excuse, he prowled Atlanta’s nightclubs and bars and didn’t come home until the wee hours of the morning – if he came home at all.
And even though he swore he’d have a lucrative practice that was sure to pull the couple out of their financial straits, Fred became even more controlling of the couple’s money. Sara was required to turn her paychecks over to Fred, who then gave Sara strict allowance which she was to use for household bills, medical expenses, groceries, and things for the children. In a metropolis like Atlanta with a high cost of living, six hundred dollars per week doesn’t go very far.
Fred was also insistent that Sara pay the bills only in cash. He reasoning was to dupe the IRS should they ever invoke an audit. He wanted no trace whatsoever of their income, other than that he claimed on taxes each year.
As if to add insult to injury, Fred also prepared a will that left his brother as guardian of the boys and controller of the financial aspects of his estate, even should Sara still be alive. Even in death, Fred intended to control her.
Between the late nights, the swarmy clients, demeaning wills, and her prison-like home life, Sara was fed up. This wasn’t what she had envisioned for herself or her children. She wanted a divorce.
A Deadly Divorce
Sara was all to aware that Fred hid his money. And she knew when she filed for divorce, he would swear the couple had little of nothing to divide. After all she’d endured, Sara refused to be denied her fair share.
She began with hiring a private investigator. Having no money for which Fred wouldn’t ask for an accounting, Sara gave the private eye a pearl necklace as collateral. Living on the meager salary of a paid gumshoe, he was none too happy and admits that he didn’t give Sara the credibility he now knows she deserved. As a matter of fact, he believed that Sara was a over dramatic suburban housewife make wild claims to win what was sure to be a nasty divorce over money and children.
Risking Fred’s wrath if she were to be discovered, Sara sneaked into Fred’s basement office safe where she discovered papers she believed to be very important. No one realized it at the time, but these documents were proof of a money laundering scheme Fred had developed by creating offshore shell bank accounts used by his drug dealing clients. In turn, the laundered funds were used as start-up funding for some of Atlanta’s nightclubs that were a hotbed for illegal drugs.
One of Fred’s money laundering clients was Eddie Charles Lawrence, an African American man with dreams of being a big shot drug dealer. In the interim, however, Eddie worked at small, sporadic jobs as a handyman. And it was this in mind that Fred talked Eddie into laundering his money through a shell bank.
Eddie wasn’t smart enough to realize that once he signed on with Fred Tokars, he was at the lawyer’s mercy. But Fred knew and it was time to put a plan he’d had in mind for a while into play.
Fred sensed Sara was planning to divorce him and he refused to give up half of what he felt he alone had earned. Forget the children, Fred was focused on the cash.
Fred approached Eddie with a plan. He wanted Eddie to lay in wait at the couples’ home at a time he knew Sara would be gone. When she returned, Eddie was to kill Sara and make it appear that it was burglary gone bad.
Eddie might have been an addict, but he was no killer. But he knew Fred had him between a rock and a hard place, so he had to do something. That’s when Eddie approached Fred’s secretary and asked if her meth-adled brother Curtis Alfonzo Rower might be interest in a murder for hire deal.
Curtis would do anything for his next fix and he readily agreed to kill Sara.
The Best Laid Plans… of Idiots
On the night of November 29, 1992, Sara and her two sons, Rick, 6, and Mike, 4, were returning home from a fabulous Thanksgiving with her parents in Florida.
When Sara pulled into the driveway of the Tokar home, she left the children sleeping in the car, without shutting it off, and went to unlock the door. Fidgety and anxious, Curtis Rower went against the plan to attack in the home and startled Sara as she went to the door.
Sara screamed and ran toward the car. Curtis got hold of Sara and directed her into the car and told her to drive. With things not going according to plan and no doubt in a hardcore tweek, Curtis demanded that Sara drive.
As she drove, she pleaded with Curtis not to harm her children. Sara insisted he take her purse and her car but to leave her and the children alone.
Curtis directed her to drive down the street where Eddie Lawrence was supposed to be waiting in the getaway car for Curtis after he left the Tokar home. Curtis, however, didn’t see Eddie’s truck and became panicked.
Curtis later told police that in this state of panic, he accidentally shot Sara. But the six year old witness would tell a different story.
According to little Ricky Tokar “the bad man” suddenly shot his mother and jumped from the moving vehicle. He says that just before the shot, his mother had anticipated danger and tried to protect him by pushing him toward the floor of the car. His younger brother remained sleeping in the backseat.
After the now unmanned vehicle veered into a ditch and came to an abrupt stop, Ricky jumped from the vehicle, woke the sleeping Mike, and ran across a field toward the lights of a church to get help.
For the next several years, during interrogations and trials, Ricky would never waver in his story.
Fred didn’t seem too upset that Sara was dead. While her family and police sought answers, Fred seemed intent on dodging them all; refusing to answer the important questions. He felt there wasn’t much he could say; after all, according to him in one of his few (and brief) statements, it was simply a random act of violence not uncommon in the Atlanta area.
Soon before Sara was murdered, Fred learned that he was under investigation by the U.S. Attorney for his money laundering practices. One client’s wife had been called to testify. Fred didn’t know how much Sara knew, but he feared she had known too much and would reveal it under oath. (Spouses can’t be forced to testify, but they can do so of their own accord) With Sara dead, Fred was arrogant enough to believe he was scot-free.
How humbling it must have been for Fred to learn that, in trying to insure a fair divorce settlement, Sara had discovered key evidence that would send investigators down a twisted trail of drugs, money laundering, and murder that would ignite race debates and eventually sentence an arrogant attorney to a life behind bars.
But before the fat lady sang, Fred had fled with his sons to Canada amid a bitter custody battle with his wife’s family and attempted suicide.
When All Was Said And Done
Despite hiring one of Georgia’s best defense attorneys, Fred Tokar was convicted on the Federal charges and for the murder of his wife.
But even in prison, Fred Tokars continued to be a whining, sniveling excuse for a human being still looking out for number one by becoming a jailhouse snitch. The last reports of Fred claim that he is now sporting a new identity under the witness the protection program and no one is sure whether he’s even still incarcerated.
Fred’s best efforts to have his brother declared legal guardian of his sons was fruitless. Eventually one of Sara’s sisters was awarded custody and Mike and Rick have both grown into handsome, productive young men. Rick lives in California and Mike lives in Florida.
Eddie Lawrence may never breathe fresh air again, but it hasn’t kept him from finding true love. He married while in prison and in 2008 his wife self-published a book based on Eddie’s story. Considering that the book can not be found even at Amazon, one must assume it was a complete waste of time on her part.
The meth-head that actually pulled the trigger, Carl Rower, will never be released from prison. He’s currently housed in the Jackson, Georgia prison.