It was Thanksgiving Day in 2004. 27-year-old Angela Schultz Shiers Barrentine was supposed to attend Thanksgiving dinner at her grandparent’s home that evening. She had promised them just the day prior and assured them that she would be there. When she didn’t show up to dinner and no one could reach her, her family decided it was time to file a missing person’s report. Months would go by with no sightings of Angela until her body was discovered in her truck, upside down in a river in west-central Mississippi. Her death was deemed suspicious, with no real answers as to what happened to her and how she ended up in the river bed. Yet, 18 years later, her family still does not have the truth of it all.
Angela Schultz Shiers Barrentine was born on February 5, 1977, to her parents Joey and Deborah Schultz. She grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi where she lived her whole life, attending St. Aloysius Vicksburg High School, followed by Hinds Community College. After graduation, she would have a little baby girl named Ginger who she thought the absolute world of. Her family said that in her spare she loved cooking, NASCAR and fishing with her daughter Ginger, really anything to do with being outdoors and being with her daughter.
Life for Angela was not without its struggles. She battled with addiction that began when she was just a teenager and at her lowest points had created relationships with shady individuals who were not great to hang around with. The kind of people who don’t really care about you, they just feed your addiction and want you to support them in theirs. Addiction is really hard for everyone involved. At times, Angela’s life spiralled out of control. She didn’t always make the best decisions. Yet, she was an incredibly kind person who would do anything for anyone she loved and she was a loving mother who at the heart of it, just wanted the best life for her daughter. She had to battle her demons in the process.
At the time that all of this happened, things were looking up. She was working two jobs to support herself and her daughter Ginger - one at Morgan’s Bestway and one at Shoney’s restaurant. She had also met a man named Daniel and the two would move in together and get married. Actually, Angela and Daniel were married just three weeks before she would go missing. Daniel would stay at home and watch Ginger whenever Angela had to work, and this was a huge help to her.
Now the date is November 24, 2004, and it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Angela is at home with Ginger and Daniel, and she’s cooking dinner when her grandparents stop by. They want to confirm with her that she is still planning to attend Thanksgiving dinner at their house the following day. Angela assures them that she will be there. Then, it is alleged that Angela borrows $10 from Daniel to go pick up cigarettes in her new purple Ford F-150 pickup truck. Daniel stays at home to care for the child.
Following these events, the timeline does get a bit murky. The following day is November 25, and Angela is supposed to be attending Thanksgiving Dinner at her grandparent’s home, but she does not show up. They had just spoken to her the day prior and she confirmed she would be there - so when was absent and unreachable, her grandparents filed a missing person report with the police.
During the investigation into the whereabouts of Angela, there would be a couple of different sightings reported from November 25th, the Thanksgiving day she was supposed to attend dinner. A few of her friends reported having a visit with her at another friend’s home that morning around 11 am before she said she was leaving to go home. Another friend would report seeing her driving in her truck all alone between 11 and noon. Other than these two sightings, no one knew where Angela was.
Although her family was well aware of her troubles with addiction and the troubled people she kept company, they also knew that she was a loving mother who would never just abandon her daughter. Something beyond her control must have happened to her, preventing her from coming home to Ginger.
Angela was described as being around 5’ tall and about 85 pounds. She was very small and slim. She had black hair, green eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her thigh, ankles, and shoulders. On the day that she disappeared, she did not carry her driver’s license and she was last seen wearing a red, long sleeve shirt and jeans. Unfortunately, there would be no further sightings after the last day she was spotted alive. Ginger, who was only 9 years old at the time her mother disappeared, would go to live with Angela’s sister, Stacy Hartley.
Eight long months would pass by, with investigators not getting any closer to finding Angela. Still, her family pushed on, searching everywhere they could access themselves and then allowing law enforcement to search the more difficult areas. They had spoken to Angela’s accomplices, checked all of the nearby hospitals and shelters, and searched the rivers routinely, however, nothing would be found. That is, until the following year in August of 2005, when the water levels of the Big Black River were at a record low and things on the riverbed began to reveal themselves.
Angela’s sister, Stacy, continued to put pressure on law enforcement to keep searching. The water line had dropped to 7.5 feet, which was the lowest since Angela had gone missing. It was so low that police were unable to use their patrol boats because the water was too low. This is when Stacy suggested that police use a civilian boat that could operate in low tide and surprisingly they agreed.
On the evening of August 2nd, 2005, investigators used a civilian boat to continue their search of the river. It wasn’t long into the search that they found a purple 1997 Ford F-150 truck stuck upside in the mud. Inside the vehicle were the human remains of Angela. She had been under the water for so long, around 8 months according to police, that her body had been reduced to basically just bones. There wasn’t any clear indication of how the truck got into the river, but the police were quick to say that they believed foul play was involved. Her family agreed, there was no way that she would have taken her own life.
Stacey would say,
“That was the loneliest day of my life,” she said. “When we saw the tires sticking up, I had no idea it was her vehicle. But then I got the biggest knot in my throat and I couldn’t swallow.” | Source: https://www.picayuneitem.com/2006/11/two-years-later-family-still-seeks-answers-in-vicksburg-womans-death/
The truck was found near Warriors Trail, between the counties of Warren County and Hinds County, which meant that both county police forces were required to investigate. This of course made the whole investigation a bit messy and complicated, particularly for Angela’s family, who just wanted answers as to what had happened to her. As for the location of where the truck was found, it was a location that Angela was familiar with. There was a parking lot near the river that she would frequent. The location of the truck also made sense because it was between where she was last seen driving and her home, where she said she was heading.
The vehicle was pulled out of the river using a backhoe and was sent off for evidence collection and testing.
Angela’s body would be sent to the morgue for identification and an autopsy. The manner of death was ruled undetermined - meaning there is no ruling as to whether her death was an accident or homicide, and there has been no cause of death revealed. Clothing and hair evidence was allegedly and supposedly sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab, but there has never been any documentation of that and investigators say that never happened. Her husband, Daniel, was cleared of any wrongdoing related to her death.
Earlier in the investigation, Crime Stoppers offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, which was combined with another $4,000 in reward money offered from private donations. Unfortunately, the $5,000 reward didn’t lead to any new information.
It has been 18 years since Angela was first reported missing and it feels as if this case is at a complete standstill. Her family has continued to fight for answers and put pressure on the police to keep the investigation alive. Angela’s daughter, Ginger, who was only 9 at the time her mom disappeared, has been a champion in this. She’s not sitting around and waiting for answers. Ginger has hired a Private Investigator named Cory Seale to look into her mother’s death. She is still traumatized over losing her mother at such a young age and never knowing what happened to her.
Her family isn’t naive about Angela’s personal life and struggles with addiction. They fully understand that she has struggled on and off with her addiction since she was a teen - and they know that it is very possible she was in that area that day. To purchase drugs.
It doesn’t matter what she was doing. Every life has value. Angela didn’t deserve to die for her struggles. And there is another person whose life has been destroyed by this death, Angela’s daughter Ginger. She is grown up and has five beautiful babies of her own now who will never get to meet their maternal grandmother. Sadly, Ginger doesn’t even have any of her mother’s belongings to hold on to and keep her memory alive, the police still have them. And yet, at this point, it seems none of the counties ever really investigated Angela’s death as a crime.
That’s basically where we’re at with Angela’s case. Her family is continuing to push for a resolution. They want to know what happened to Angela. Even if it was a drug deal that went wrong, they just want answers and justice. Angela was a beautiful daughter, sister and mother - if someone took away her life before the had the opportunity really fulfill her own potential, then that person needs to be behind bars.
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