What did this 9-year-old girl do to meet such an end?
In the early 90s, St. Ann was considered a relatively safe town. Children played on the streets with little to no supervision. All this changed in 1993.
Angie Housman was a bright kid from the St. Ann neighborhood. She was a kind, intelligent kid who loved her parents dearly. Angie loved riding the bicycle and being super active. People cherished her for her warm attitude, and she’d do anything for her friends.
Yet, life wasn’t easy for the 9-year-old happy-go-lucky child.
Where Is Angie?
Angie got off in the Wright Avenue in St. Gregory lane. The stop was about eight blocks away from her house, and she took the route alone all the time.
However, on November 18, 1993, this changed. When all kids got off the bus and reached their homes, Angie didn’t.
Now, usually, the people who lived near the bus stop, or parents waiting to pick their kids, monitored all the kids getting off the bus. On that day, parents saw Angie getting off the bus. But none saw her after that, and no one knew what happened to her.
It seemed like she either vanished into thin air or someone waited for the right opportunity to abduct her.
When Angie’s parents realized Angie was missing, they began a massive search. Neighbors and volunteers spent hours searching for the missing kid.
A police complaint was registered, and they used sniffer dogs to track her. The dogs followed her scent for about halfway to her house before losing the smell. The police assumed that maybe someone had kidnapped Angie in a car.
The police kept searching for the child for the next few days. They used the best technology they had at that time to find her. Yet, they found nothing significant.
However, nine days later, on November 27, 1993, they found Angie.
The Kid on the Tree
Nine days after Angie went missing, the police found her body in a remote ecological conservation area, about 90 feet away from the road.
Angie was tied to a tree half-naked with duct tape on her mouth and eyes. The little girl had ice chips forming on her. The forensic team later confirmed that Angie was alive for at least a week before she died of the cold.
But what was more shocking and disturbing was Angie’s autopsy report. It highlighted that Angie was sexually assaulted, starved, handcuffed, and tortured. The girl’s state was so horrifying that the police were shaken and disgusted. Not to mention how terrifying it would’ve been for her.
The police couldn’t fathom who would do such a thing to a 9-year-old child. They had more questions than answers.
Initially, the police believed the kidnapper was someone whom Angie knew. But after investigation, they had no suspects. What they discerned was that the murderer was a normal-looking man who blended into the crowd. The person was someone the community trusted and approved.
The police got a fingerprint from the duct tape and Angie’s clothes. However, despite having the best forensic and technical teams available in the early 90s, they couldn’t get any information from it.
The police asked for the community’s help to crack the case, and they received numerous tips that led to dead ends. The police also released a sketch of a potential suspect but got no verifiable information.
Months passed with no real progress on the case. It was turning cold quickly.
Life After Angie’s Death
Angie’s death shook the community in so many ways. St. Ann was no longer a place where children could play and roam around freely. Plus, the fact that the murderer was someone in their community was even more terrifying.
After Angie’s death, the neighborhood implemented some precautionary steps. The school had a buddy system for kids. Parents watched their children closely and never let them out of their sight. The police also had a fiercer patrol watch.
Housmans After Angie’s Death
The Housmans were devastated. Even though they lived in the same house, waiting for answers and closure, their life was very different.
Angie’s mother mostly kept to herself. For several years, she slipped in and out of depression. Her mother lived in a room with closed curtains and locked doors. Every time she saw a school bus or kids going to school, she’d break down and cry uncontrollably. She couldn’t get over her loss.
Eventually, the family moved out of their family house. But they still left the porch light on for Angie. When they donated most of Angie’s belongings, they kept her favorite pink bicycle. The change helped Angie’s mother, and she started getting her life on track again.
2019–27 Years Later
Over the years, Angie’s case was on and off the media. The police had some suspects and leads but nothing concrete. The case completely stumped them until 2019.
Earlier, in 1993, the police got a DNA sample from Angie’s innerwear. But they couldn’t test it then because they didn’t have the technology. The clothing dye made it hard to isolate and test the specimen.
However, with massive technological advancements, this testing was no longer a problem. The forensic team used a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for the analysis.
And lo-and-behold, they found the killer 27 years later.
“The fact that it took this long for us to be able to use the current technology and do the DNA testing which gave us the result … that was a blessing in disguise. Had we tested this evidence any sooner than we did, there’s a chance that nothing would have come about because the technology just wasn’t advanced enough.” — Tim Lohmer, Attorney, St. Charles County
Earl Cox was a 61-year-old air force veteran and a convicted pedophile.
In the 1980s, Earl was dishonorably discharged from the military force for abusing children. He spent eight years in prison before he was released on parole. After that, even though the police questioned him under suspicious pretexts, he didn’t get into trouble.
Around the time of Angie’s disappearance and subsequent death, Earl lived only a few blocks away from Angie’s bus stop. He had relatives in the neighborhood, and his sister lived next to her school. So, Earl had enough opportunities to pick, watch, and plan his moves.
During the initial investigation in 1993, Earl’s name appeared on the list of sex offenders. However, the police didn’t take him seriously, as he wasn’t a repeat offender. Many believed that he had changed for the good. Plus, with little to no evidence to convict anyone, the police couldn’t do much.
In 2003, the police arrested Earl for blackmailing an undercover agent in Colorado. Upon investigation, they found his computer loaded with over 45,000 child pornography pictures and videos. It turns out that Earl ran a secret porn hub.
Earl was sent to prison again.
In 2011, Earl was supposed to be released. However, a psychiatrist voiced out his reservations, and his release was canceled. With Angie’s murder conviction, it was unlikely that he’d see the outside world again.
Trial and Verdict
There were talks about the death penalty for Earl. He had destroyed so many lives, and the public had had enough of him.
However, the prosecution gave Earl a golden ticket. They took the death penalty off the table if he pleaded guilty. And so, Earl agreed.
In his trial, Earl confessed that he had locked Angie up in his house and tortured her. Later, he tied her to a tree and left her to die in the cold.
In August 2020, Earl was charged with the first-degree murder of Angie Housman. The judge sentenced him to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The judge also added another seven years for sexual abuse.
In March 2021, Earl pleaded guilty again. He had molested another child in 1989, four years before Angie’s death. The judge added another 40 years to his sentence.
What the little girl went through is horrific. It’s just heartbreaking to note that a young child’s life was taken away in broad daylight when the town was buzzing with activity.
Yet, we must acknowledge and discuss such stories because they show us that technology can solve cold cases. It gives the victims’ families hope that someday, they may find closure. It proves that, even if justice is delayed, it will be served.
And if that’s not significant enough, then what is?