A young woman is abducted from a payphone while talking with her fiancé just seven blocks away.
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.
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:
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:
Angie was unconcerned until the truck parked by the phone booth. Then the call took a disturbing turn:
As Robbie was driving towards the pay phone, a pick up truck sped past in the other direction:
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:
Marsha Cook is Angie’s mother:
Rob said that he often still thinks of that night:
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:
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:
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.
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:
Authorities suspected that a serial killer was on the loose in west-central Missouri. Angie’s mother Marsha said that she just wants answers:
UPDATE: On the 30th anniversary of her disappearance, new details were provided to the public. Investigators are working a theory that Angela was mistaken for another woman who was being targeted in the aftermath of her father’s legal affairs. This man had acted as an informant in a narcotics case and received a note threatening the life his daughter, also named Angela. The note was sent on April 4, 1991, the very evening of Angela Hammond’s abduction. Authorities believe that, due to their similar names and appearances, the two women were mixed up and Angela Hammond was mistakenly abducted. As of April 2021, that theory is still being investigated.