The reward for information in the fatal shooting May 7 of a Tulane graduate has been raised to $30,000 as his family members plead with the city of New Orleans to deliver the answers to the questions that keep them up at night a month after his death.
Thomas Rolfes, 25, had flown to New Orleans to scout wedding locations with his fiancee, Elizabeth Fried, but the couple took separate flights and Rolfes met up with friends at popular Uptown watering hole Ms. Mae’s, police have said. At some point, he became separated from them, and surveillance video from the Delta Fuel Station at South Claiborne and Louisiana avenues shows him buying two bottles of water around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, May 7 — about an hour before his body was discovered on nearby Amelia Street with a fatal gunshot wound to the chest, police say.
Rolfes’ hands showed injuries that would suggest a struggle, and his wallet was missing, indicating a robbery motive in his shooting, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said last month. The mystery of what happened in that lost hour of Rolfes’ life, however, continues to plague his family members a month later as the investigation remains unsolved.
“I lay awake every night wondering how he spent the last hours of his life,” Fried said. “Was he scared? Did he suffer? Why did this have to happen?”
“Was he too brave? Was he trying to crawl to the street for help?” asked his mother, Julie Rolfes. “All of those things weigh on your heart.”
On Tuesday, CrimeStoppers announced that the reward for information that could lead to an arrest is now $30,000.
“He was a wonderful, wonderful young man,” Julie Rolfes said. “If there is anyone out there that saw anything — even if it might be the smallest of things — I want his life to be more than just a death on the street.”
When Rolfes left home to attend Tulane, he was a smart but shy high-school student — “kind of a braniac, maybe even a nerd,” his mother said. It was in New Orleans that he found himself, which is he and Fried wanted the city to host their wedding, his mother said, and seeing it through his eyes now helps her know him even better.
“If there is a light in all of this, it is has been the number of people who have come out to support us,” Rolfes said. “We are learning so many great things about him. Part of it makes us much sadder, because we did not know all of those things, but we are so happy to hear them.”
Anyone with information is urged to call the NOPD Homicide Division at 658-658-5300 to speak to a detective, or CrimeStoppers at 822-1111 to leave an anonymous tip that could be eligible for the $30,000 reward.