Body Of FBI Agent Found In Ukrainian Village
Lawmakers Ask Watchdog to Probe Case of FBI Source Found Dead Overseas. Body Of FBI Agent Found In Ukrainian Village
Letter seeks information on William Paul Reilly’s work and expresses concern about officials’ ‘lack of candor’.
Lawmakers have requested that the Justice Department’s independent watchdog investigate the case of William Paul Reilly, a Federal Bureau of Investigation counterterrorism source who went missing in Russia in 2015 and whose remains were discovered in a separatist territory of eastern Ukraine more than three years later.
The mystery surrounding Mr. Reilly’s disappearance was the subject of a Page One article in The Wall Street Journal last month.
The letter requesting the probe—sent Thursday and addressed to the department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, and signed by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Gary Peters (D., Mich.) and Rep. Elisa Slotkin (D., Mich.)—marks a new effort to get answers for Mr. Reilly’s parents, Theresa and William Reilly of Oxford Charter Township, Mich.
The letter requests an investigation into “the nature and scope” of Mr. Reilly’s work for the FBI and expresses concern about “the lack of candor and contradictory information provided by the FBI.”
“We continue to have serious questions about Billy’s disappearance and death,” Ms. Stabenow said. Mr. Peters said there are “important, unanswered questions about Billy Reilly’s work for the FBI and the circumstances surrounding his death.”
Ms. Slotkin couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
A spokeswoman for the inspector general declined to comment. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter.
In 2010, as previously reported by the Journal, agents from the FBI’s Detroit field office invited Mr. Reilly to join its confidential human source program, a group of freelance workers who aid agents in their investigations.
Mr. Reilly spent five years with the agency, working in counterterrorism and using online aliases to penetrate terror groups over computers and phones. Mr. Reilly also interacted with FBI targets in the field while wearing a wire and met regularly with agents.
In 2015, Mr. Reilly traveled to Moscow when he was 28 years old, telling his parents that he was interested in joining a humanitarian mission to aid civilians who were suffering in the war in eastern Ukraine.
He found his way to a volunteer-fighter camp in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, near the Ukrainian border. Mr. Reilly last spoke with his parents on June 24, 2015.
“The FBI never directed William Reilly to travel overseas to perform any work for the FBI,” an FBI spokesman, Brian P. Hale, later wrote the Journal in an email.
Shortly after Mr. Reilly’s disappearance, his FBI handler visited the Reilly home and confiscated a cell phone and laptop that Mr. Reilly had used. A text-message conversation between Mr. Reilly and his handler revealed that the two had discussed his Russia trip before his departure.
After receiving little assistance from the FBI, Mr. Reilly’s parents began their own search for their son, contacting government officials in Washington and Moscow, hiring private investigators, and in 2017 traveling to Russia. They found no answers.
In November last year, through a Journal investigation, a fingerprint match on a corpse revealed that it was Mr. Reilly’s body. DNA tests in Russia and the U.S. confirmed the finding. He had been stabbed to death.
According to a Ukrainian medical examiner’s report, Mr. Reilly’s body was discovered on July 10, 2015, near the Ukrainian village of Dibrivka and then later buried by local authorities in a cemetery in the neighboring town of Shakhtarsk. His parents recovered his remains and returned them to Michigan in June for re-interment.
Mr. and Mrs. Reilly said they welcomed the issuance of the letter by their Congressional representatives.
“We hope they will make a sincere effort to help,” Mrs. Reilly said.
The letter asks the inspector general to investigate Mr. Reilly’s reasons for traveling abroad, whether he was in contact with the FBI from Russia or Ukraine, and if his relationship with the agency had been terminated prior to his death.
“To date, the FBI has not been forthcoming in answering questions about Billy’s disappearance and death despite their repeated requests for information and engagement from multiple congressional offices, and from the Reilly family,” the letter read.