Imagine getting a phone call from your loved one. She is telling you about her evening and that she is about 10 minutes from home. When Angela Hammond made that call, she had this really uneasy feeling come over her and felt it was necessary to give her fiancé a heads up. Something was strange and she needed to let him know.
While her fiancé was still on the line, someone rushed Angela in the phone booth. She let out a scream and just like that, she was gone. Her fiancé heard a scream on the other end of the phone line and did whatever he could to trace the call and track her down. This is the story of Angela Marie Hammond’s mysterious disappearance.
In America’s heartland, Clinton, Missouri was a quiet, calm town where nothing ever happens. That’s how it always goes, isn’t it? The crimes that shake communities the most are those they least expected. The residents of the town would be met with a sense of a lack of security that would never be shaken.
The sense of comfort that comes with living in a small farm town seemed like it wouldn’t be shaken. When Angela Hammond was just going about her own business, someone came into her life that would change it forever. As she made her way home for the evening, someone began to prey on her.
Angela was at the prime of her life. At just 20 years old, she was engaged to the man of her dreams. Everyone knew her as Angie, and her fiancé, Rob Shafer, was a star athlete at their school. He gave her an engagement ring that solidified his lifelong promise to protect and love her at all costs.
One evening, hours after she had dropped him off at home following a barbecue with his friends, she called to check in with him. She was in the parking lot of a grocery store and had concerns about someone walking around outside while she stood on the phone. She was able to give a quick description before things took a turn for the worst.
Angie began describing the lurking man around her. This man was described as a “filthy, bearded man” and she was beyond terrified. He was using the phone booth closest to her. Previously, he had been circling the parking lot with his truck. She noted that he had gotten out of the car and was using a flashlight.
She wasn’t sure if she was overthinking it; maybe he was looking for something? Who was she to say? Then, things got a little more intense. He parked his truck near the phone booth, lurked around her with a flashlight, and then before she knew it, Angie was screaming at the other end of the phone.
Her fiancé Rob lived very close to where she called from, and luckily he had a description of the vehicle in question. Rob lived just seven blocks away and was able to act quickly. He tossed the phone aside to run to help the love of his life, that is, if he wasn’t already too late.
While he was trying to find Angie, a truck matching the description Angela had given him darted past him. It was clear that the woman in the passenger seat was struggling with the driver, who was swerving all about. He could even hear her screaming, “Robbie!” Unfortunately, he ran into another issue while trying to help.
Rob made a sharp U-turn that would end up ruining everything for him. His car could not handle the sudden movements, and after just two miles on the chase, his car stalled. His transmission malfunctioned while making a right turn, and his car stalled in the middle of the road.
He pursued the chase as best as he could, and his trusty vehicle let both him and Angela down. Angela and her captor quickly faded from view as they rode away into the dead of night. He had no choice but to walk back to town, and luckily a passing driver noticed him and offered him a ride to safety. He went straight to the police.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that the cops were rather skeptical of Rob and his story. Why on earth should they believe such a tall tale? Rob told police that Angela described a “filthy, bearded man.” He was able to give a description of what the man was reportedly wearing.
The man was wearing overalls, or “coveralls” as some might call them, a dark-colored baseball cap, and eyeglasses. He had full facial hair: a beard and a full mustache. He continued to give them a description of the car, which was rather unique in additional designs.
Rob described a vehicle that was quite unique. The truck driven was a green Ford F150, with a white top. Rob thought the car’s model was somewhere between the late 60s and early 70s, with some partial damage on the left front side. There was a bit of a fender bender, too.
This was not necessarily what made the truck unique, though. The truck was unique because of a mural that was shown on the back window of the truck. The rear window mural was of a fish jumping out of water. How many cars have you seen that have that on the window, if at all?
Police were able to come up with a composite sketch, however it really did not look like the description Rob had given them. There was a ton of scrutiny because the sketch barely matched the description given to Rob by Angela. It did not feature the key characteristics necessary to identify him.
It is unclear if the composite sketch was created differently because the police were suspicious of Rob. They definitely thought his story might had holes in it; they felt it was a little too convenient. How was he able to give all of these details and attempt to save the woman he loved?
Police were indeed skeptical right off the bat of Rob’s role. In their mind, he likely had a motive as the boyfriend, and they had every reason to look at him first. Fortunately, though, they were able to recover his car, which was undriveable in the middle of the road. This matched his story.
Not only did they find his car stalled in the middle of the road, but they also found Angela’s abandoned vehicle in the parking lot of the store she went missing from. Angela’s belongings, such as her purse, were still inside the car. Everything was untouched.
Despite the pieces of his story matching up, Rob was still considered a prime suspect for the next week. I mean, he was the last person to speak with her before she mysteriously disappeared. Why wouldn’t they point the finger at him?
Rob had to take multiple polygraph tests, which he passed. Luckily for him, several people came forward to identify the truck that Rob described to the police. Fortunately for Rob, he was ruled out. Now it was time to look at the other people in her life. How could they be responsible or connected to the case?
At the time of her disappearance, Angela was four months pregnant. She was engaged to be married, and it was assumed that the father of her baby was her fiancé Rob. However, a suspect came to light for another reason. They believed an ex-boyfriend of Angie’s might have been the real father and was now considered a suspect.
The ex-boyfriend, Bill Barker, was only 17 years old. He was at the center of rumors, specifically about the two canoodling behind the scenes. Many speculated that he was the real father of the baby, but he denied everything. After police looked further into this, they ruled him out as a suspect.
The community came to the Hammond family’s aid in searching for their daughter. They rallied together to distribute fliers and missing persons posters. They plastered her face and photographs on any surface they possibly could. Storefront windows, diners, truck stops – you name it, there was a poster for Angie there.
Over 250 volunteers came together to help the cause. Family, friends, the police, and anyone else who wanted to help conducted ground and air searches. They needed to find any possible angle they could of Clinton, to make sure she did not fall into the nooks and crannies of their small Missouri town.
They searched every corner of the town. They looked in water wells, old country roads that are isolated and practically untouched, creek beds, the woods, barns, and abandoned buildings. They searched meticulously and would not give up until they made some kind of break in the case.
After just eleven days, they knew they had to call in for more help. The Missouri Rural Crime Scene Squad would need more manpower, more resources to crack the case and help bring Angie back to her family, in whatever form that may be in.
Police from neighboring counties had to come to their aid. 25 officers from 15 neighboring counties were dispatched and came to help however they could. Missouri Highway Patrol was enlisted to search up and down any road possible; they also were able to further dive into driving records and vehicle registrations.
The Highway Patrol was able to compile a list of 1,600 vehicles that matched the description given. That is 1,600 potential pick up trucks that might have held the secrets of where Angela could be, or where she was taken. The search was extensive, and ultimately ended up bringing nothing new to the table.
These small-town officers were at a loss. They had no idea how this could have possibly happened. They pondered how on earth they could have the vehicle information and description of a person, yet no leads on where Angela went? The small town of Clinton was shaken and looking for any answers they could get.
Within the year, more cases that were eerily similar started popping up in the region. 80 miles out of Clinton, at least two other disappearances came within the coming months and with strange coincidences. These disappearances made investigators think – are these cases connected?
Macks Creek, Missouri was a small town that was even smaller than Clinton. It was so small, that there were only 500 residents. On Saturday, January 19th, 1991, Trudy Darby was working an evening shift at her local convenience store. She started to feel uneasy, so she called her son.
She worked at K&D Convenience Store and was in the process of closing up shop for the evening when she noticed three men lurking outside of the store. She called her son and expressed her discomfort. She asked him to come to her aid, which he did – he only lived 10 minutes away.
Unfortunately, by the time he got there, she was nowhere to be found. After just two days, Trudy’s body was found nude with two .38 caliber gunshot wounds to the head. Trudy’s body was discovered on January 21, 1991 in a town not far from where she went missing.
Her lifeless body was found in the Little Niangua River, just fifteen miles from her last known location. Her son, Waylon Darby, was thrown off and could not think of anyone in their small town who would want to harm his mother. He had to live every day knowing he missed her by that much.
Trudy’s case was not the first strange similarity. Another incident with remarkably similar circumstances popped up in February 1991. Just a month after Trudy’s disappearance and her body was discovered, another young woman was taken from her place of work at another convenience store.
In Nevada, Missouri, a small town around the same size as Clinton with roughly 9,000 people, 30-year-old Cheryl Ann Kennedy was closing up the Quality Convenience Store on Business Highway 71 at around 10 pm. At first, she was not alone. Since she was closing up shop early, she decided to send home her colleagues a bit early. That seemed to be the start of her demise.
Cheryl had done everything necessary to close her place of work for the night. In fact, at 10:17 that night, February 27th, 1991, she had turned on the alarm for the shop. She was on her way to her car, a white chevy, but never made it home. She was never seen again. This made authorities wonder if the cases were connected.
Fortunately for one, they would see justice in their name. Trudy Darby’s killers were a couple of teenaged boys who took things too far. Jessie Rush was just 15 years old when he and his stepbrother, Marvin Cheney, bragged to friends that they had committed Trudy’s murder! Jessie was visiting friends in Kansas City and reportedly bragged about the murder to four different people.
Jessie showed no remorse and was not holding back his confession in the slightest. He was detailed and shared gruesome details of both the murder and the events prior. It started as the two boys and one other accomplice kidnapped Trudy. They robbed her at gunpoint, stealing $220 and pushed her into her car. She tried to stand up for herself, and the boys hated that.
They transported her to a nearby barn, where they sexually and physically assaulted her. Afterward, they shot her once in the head and put her body in the trunk of their car and took her to the Little Niangua River to dispose of her. When they opened the trunk, they noticed she was still breathing so they shot her once more and discarded her body.
Afterward, some truly horrifying letters written by Jessie while in holding resurfaced information that would change everything. He further incriminated himself and his stepbrother, bringing them to a harsh sentence. This would determine the rest of their life; a ridiculous thing to do at any age, let alone at this one.
The two boys were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The two were transferred to different jails, one to a correctional facility and the other to maximum security. Chaney passed away in jail at 56 of natural causes. Rush is still serving his sentence.
After Angela’s case went cold a year or so later, some still continued working to crack the case. She was someone’s loved one, after all. If she was to just up and leave, why would she leave her fiancé while she was pregnant with a baby? Plus, we already knew she was the victim of foul play. What on earth happened to Angela Hammond?
Just before her case was labeled as a cold case, Unsolved Mysteries came to reenact the scene. They told local law enforcement to not get their hopes up, which was the right call. By the end of 1991, investigators were met with yet another dead end. Will they ever solve this thing?
The summer of 1992 brought an all too familiar sense of dread to Missouri. In Springfield, three girls vanished out of thin air on the same evening. Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter, and Stacy McCall all disappeared on the same night, which was so mysterious that the whole country wanted to hear more.
Their moms formed a bond through the tragedy and became close. They even went on to speak on Oprah Winfrey’s show about their resilience. Could you imagine having the strength to go onto national television to discuss the hardship of your child going missing out of thin air?
Jessie Rush and Marvin Chaney were ruled out as suspects in Angie’s case, and there was no hard evidence to link them to Cheryl’s disappearance either. They ran into dead end after dead end. Just when we thought everything was off the table, it seemed that something new was brought forward.
It only took a decade to get a new lead, but it was something. Thanks to new technologies in the forensic field, police were finally able to find some kind of new lead in April 2009. After so many years with nothing to show for the investigation, it was thrilling for the family to have something to give them hope.
Though the Clinton Police was able to find some new type of evidence, they did not specify the type beyond being of DNA nature. Forensic technology developed exponentially in the years since Angela’s initial disappearance. Hopefully, this would allow for her family to finally get some answers.
Though the Clinton Police Department released a media statement, they did not specify much more. They simply left it as having unearthed new evidence, yet the public has no security in hearing a person of interest being named.
Could you imagine what you’d need to do in order to move on with your life after losing a loved one, especially under such strange circumstances? The emotional wear and tear must be unlike anything else you can experience in life. That’s what Angela’s family had to do. They had to move on with their lives while keeping the hunt for their loved one alive.
It has been about 30 years since Angie Hammond went missing. The Hammond family still pursues answers and closure all these years later. They will not rest until justice is served for their beloved Angela, and even if they keep building at their lives, the least they can do is honor her memory in the process.
Through their investigative findings, police determined that this attack had to have been taken out by multiple people. It was very hard for them to believe that it was one person alone. Law enforcement officers believed that the case had to be preplanned. More so, they think this was a plan gone wrong.
She was taken quickly – so fast that she screamed on the phone and was carried, while holding a baby in her belly, to another vehicle. It seemed unlikely that only one person would have been involved, especially in the speed of the case. It was also believed that she was mistaken for another woman named Angela.
This Angela was potentially mistaken for another in the area, whose father was involved in some levels of the crime community. Rather, they believe the other Angie’s father was an informant for a pretty high-level narcotics case, and that someone might have taken Angie trying to send this guy a message.
Years and years of investigation and looking at the case file time and time again allowed for investigators to finally have their first new lead in years. An anonymous call was made to share some more information on the case, and fortunately that lead has helped investigators make breaks for the first time in decades.
It is widely believed that Angela Hammond was kidnapped in place of someone else. Investigators believe that she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and since they lived in such a small community, it would not have been that abnormal for someone to confuse multiple Angies in such a small radius.
All we can do for now is pray for her family and hope they can get answers. It has been 30 years since she was abducted in the dead of night, and her scream at the other end of the line will be marked in our minds forever.