A young woman is abducted from a payphone while talking with her fiancé just seven blocks away.
Height: 4’11” to 5’
Weight: 120 to 140 lbs.
Remarks: A $16,000 reward is being offered for leads in this case. Abductor was a filthy, bearded man who wore glasses and overalls. He drove a late 1960s or early 1970s two-tone green Ford pickup truck. The back window was completely covered by a decal of a fish jumping out of water.
Clinton, Missouri is a quiet farming town in the heart of America. Normally, the peaceful region feels insulated from big city crime. But that sense of security was shattered after a popular young woman was abducted and possibly murdered.
The man drove off with Angela
Angela Hammond was an outgoing 20-year-old known to everyone as Angie. Her fiancé, Rob Shafer, was a star athlete in high school. When he gave Angie a diamond engagement ring, he promised to always take care of her.
Following a barbecue on the evening of April 4, 1991, Angie dropped Rob off at his house and said that she would call him a few hours later. According to Rob:
“That was about ten o’clock. I was going to meet her back uptown as soon as my mom got home. I was watching my little brother at the time. And she called later on that night.”
As promised, Angie called Rob about an hour later from a payphone in the center of town. She was just seven blocks from his home. According to Rob, Angie mentioned a truck had circled the block a few times:
“She said it was an older model green Ford pickup truck.”
Angie was unconcerned until the truck parked by the phone booth. Then the call took a disturbing turn:
“He used the phone next to her, got back in his truck, and looked at something with a flashlight. She described the flashlight to me over the phone. He was looking for something. I had her ask him if he needed to use the phone. Maybe the other phone was broken. And he said, no, he’d try again in a minute. Then we just talked about other things. We weren’t too worried about it. And that’s when I heard her scream on the phone. I heard her scream. The only thing that went through my mind was getting up there and finding out what the hell was going on. I just dropped the phone and ran out of the house. I didn’t hang the phone back up, and just headed up there.
As Robbie was driving towards the pay phone, a pick up truck sped past in the other direction:
“Somebody yelled out the window, “Robbie!” That’s how I knew it was them.”
Were other reported abductions related?
Rob turned around on the street and chased the pickup through downtown. But he didn’t realize that when he threw his car into reverse, the transmission had been severely damaged. Rob said that he chased the pick up for two miles before the transmission failed:
“It started dying as I was making my right turn. This guy turned off to the right. All I saw was his brake lights and dust.”
Marsha Cook is Angie’s mother:
“Rob blamed himself for it because he always told her he’d be there to take care of her. And he tried. He did everything that could be done. Nobody blames him, but I think he thinks that people blame him.”
Rob said that he often still thinks of that night:
“The beginning is the hardest because you know you were close enough to get him, but you just didn’t get the job done. And you still wake up at nights, wondering where she’s at, wondering what happened, wondering if anybody’s still looking. You’re just wondering all the time.”
The suspect’s truck had a decal on the window
Angie’s kidnapping sent shock waves through the town. The police and citizens searched far and wide, by both air and land, but found nothing. The best hope for cracking the case rested on locating the pick up truck. According to Detective Damon Parsons of the Clinton Police Department:
“We had some assistance from the Missouri state highway patrol that did a computer search on all registered vehicles. Through their help, we had 1,600 possibilities that we had to check as far as color and whether they had any mural in the back window.”
But none of the possibilities were a match. The police had based their investigation on Rob Shafer’s testimony. And when no witnesses could back up his story, Rob himself became a suspect. But Angie’s mother, Marsha, said she never suspected him:
“I think it was natural that people wondered, ‘Did the boyfriend do it?’ But my feeling was, I’ve known the kid all his life, and I never doubted for a minute that he had anything to do with it.”
Within a week, Rob was cleared. Shortly after, police connected Angie’s abduction to two other unsolved cases within a hundred-miles of Clinton. The first had occurred three months earlier near Macks Creek, Missouri.
On January 19,1991, forty-two-year-old Trudy Darby was working alone in a convenience store. She called her son to report a suspicious man loitering outside. Trudy’s son hurried to the store but found it deserted after just ten minutes. Two days later, Trudy was found on a riverbank ten miles from the store. She had been fatally shot twice in the head.
Angie’s kidnapping stunned the community
About a month later, 30-year-old Cheryl Ann Kenney was reported missing in Nevada, Missouri, roughly 70 miles from where the body of Trudy Darby had been found. On February 28, 1991, Cheryl Ann had also vanished from a convenience store where she worked. She has not been seen since. Then, less than one month after that, Angie Hammond was abducted. Det. Parsons thinks the three cases are linked:
“If Angela is found, it might provide a link that relates to, for example, Trudy Darby. Or if Cheryl’s found, maybe that will be a connection to Trudy Darby and how she was murdered.”
Authorities suspected that a serial killer was on the loose in west-central Missouri. Angie’s mother Marsha said that she just wants answers:
“If anybody out there sees anything, if they could put themselves in our place and know how we feel and how heart-wrenching it is that she was taken. Even if the guy that took her sees this, if he would just call and let them know what he did with her.”
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season four with Robert Stack and in season six with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
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