People, whether children or adults, go missing every single day. Sometimes, the person decides to vanish on their own accord, while other people disappear in a more sinister nature. When these incidents happen they impact people in ways that are undoubtedly life-changing, especially when those unfortunate circumstances occur in a small populated town where everyone knows one another. The lingering effects of those cases create a void in families, friends, and the entire community that never fully heals.
Angela Marie Hammond was born on February 9, 1971, to her loving parents, Marsha and Chris Hammond. For the first four years, the family lived in Kansas City, but they soon relocated to Clinton, Missouri, where Marsha’s parents, Lloyd and Elizabeth Young were residing.
Clinton, Missouri is a small, rural town populated by fewer than 9,000 people as of 2016. Residents make a living by hard work at factory jobs, farming, and supporting local businesses. It’s a town where people wave to each other as they walk; people meet up in the morning at the local diner to have coffee, and when high school football season starts the community gathers together on Friday nights to support their hometown team.
Not too long after the move to Clinton, Marsha and Chris added another addition to their family, a newborn baby boy, Loren Hammond. Sadly, over time their marriage fell apart, which resulted in Marsha moving twenty miles away to an isolated farm out in the country in Montrose, Missouri, and Chris traveling back to Olathe, Kansas, where he later remarried. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Angela and Loren grew up in a happy and stable environment, where their parents were actively involved in their lives and made sure they were loved and taken care of.
As time went on, Clinton, Missouri became Angela’s home, and she cherished the friends, memories, and future she was making for herself there. Angela’s best friend, Kyla Engeman, described her as an intelligent woman who knew how to have fun anywhere she went. There was never a dull moment with her, and the energetic and positive energy beaming off of her made people want to be around her.
In November of 1990, 19-year-old Angela met Rob Shafer, an 18-year-old high school star athlete who had ambitions to join the military. The two quickly intertwined and fell in love. The following year in January 1991, she announced to Rob that she was pregnant. Rob was thrilled by the news and subsequently proposed, where Angela ecstatically accepted. The newly engaged couple soon moved in together at a rented trailer home and started planning ahead for their new journey in life. Rob still had plans to follow through with enlisting in the military later that summer, while Angela was working at the Union State Bank as a night processor and taking college courses in Central Missouri State University thirty miles away in Warrensburg, Missouri.
Angela’s relationship with Bob continued to blossom and they were both wanted and accepted into each other’s families. Four months later, nobody could have predicted the mysterious turn of events that continues to baffle the small town to this very day.
On the unusually warm Spring evening of Thursday, April 4, 1991, Angela was accompanied by her fiance at her mother’s residence to have a family barbeque. The entire night had gone smoothingly–where everything seemed to be perfectly intertwined to have a relaxing and blissful time with friends and family.
Shortly after 9:00 p.m. Angela and Rob decided to head back to Clinton because he had plans to be at his mother’s home, Carol Shafer, by 10:00 p.m. to babysit his younger brother, Justin Shafer. The couple had plans to meet up in town later that night when his mother returned in a few hours, so when she dropped him off she proceeded to spend time with her best friend, Kyla, and cruise the downtown square to have a little fun to pass the time.
At approximately 11:15 p.m. Angela and Kyla parted ways for the night. Thereafter, she decided to call Rob at the nearest payphone on the corner of 210 South 2nd Street where the Food Barn Store parking lot was situated — now the Jim Raysik Car Dealership. She didn’t own a home phone and wanted to tell him that she was exhausted and planned on going back home to soak in a bath. The two continued speaking on the phone for thirty minutes, but at 11:45 p.m. the lives of everyone in Clinton, Missouri changed in an unsettling fashion that still looms over the small town.
In the midst of the phone call, Angela alerted Rob to a conspicuous man circling the block several times in an older modeled green Ford F150 pickup truck. Moments later the driver pulled over near her and stepped outside of the truck and walked toward the unoccupied phone booth next to Angela. Seconds later he returned to his truck and grabbed a flashlight and started waving it around as if he was searching for something. Trying to ease the unsettling tension, Angela asked if he needed to use the phone and he told her no. All of a sudden, a horrifying scream could be heard and Rob — who lived 7-blocks away — immediately tossed aside the landline phone and jumped out of his seat to rush to Angela’s aide.
On his way to her, a similar truck matching what Angela relayed darted passed him with a woman struggling with the driver and screaming “Robbie” for help. He hastily put his vehicle in reverse and made a sharp U-Turn to give chase. The pursuit continued for approximately two miles before Rob’s transmission malfunctioned when he made a right turn, resulting in the vehicle stalling in the middle of the road, as the truck with the woman in tow quickly faded out of view.
Unfortunately, Rob had no choice but to walk back to town. Luckily, a passing motorist noticed him and picked him up and Rob asked to be taken to the police station so he could notify them of what just transpired. He arrived at the department just shy over midnight and reported the incident.
Rob told the police Angela described the unidentified male as “filthy and bearded.” He was wearing coveralls, a dark-colored baseball hat, eyeglasses, and had a full beard with a mustache. The truck he was driving was a green Ford F150 with a white top and delineated to be between the late 60s to early 70s. There had been partial damage on the left side front fender, and on the rear window was a mural of a fish jumping out of the water. A composite sketch of the person of interest was created, although it had been met with much scrutiny because it doesn’t feature key characteristics that Angela described to Rob.
Initially, the police were skeptical of Rob’s story, believing it seemed too contrived and convenient. Nevertheless, as they began their investigation they uncovered Rob’s vehicle undrivable in the middle of the street. Shortly thereafter they found Angela’s car abandoned at the shopping center parking lot with her purse still inside.
Detective Damon Parsons of the Clinton Police Department notified Marsha on the scenario unfolding, which caused immediate frantic. She contacted Angela’s father, Chris, and delivered the devastating news. He promptly made the trip to Clinton, Missouri and resided there for several weeks to assist with trying to locate his daughter.
For the first week of the investigation, Rob was considered the prime suspect in Angela’s disappearance, but after passing a polygraph test and two witnesses coming forward claiming to see the same truck as Rob described to police, he was subsequently ruled out.
As the police continued rounding up friends and family for questioning and additional details, they focused on Angela’s ex-boyfriend, 17-year-old Bill Barker. There were rumors going around that he was the father of Angela’s baby, but he denied those allegations and after looking further into things, he was no longer considered a suspect.
The community rallied together distributing missing person’s posters all throughout town, plastering the photographs on local storefront windows, diners, and truck stops that were often frequented. Over 250 volunteers including friends, family and the police, conducted an air and ground search scouring the entirety of Clinton looking for Angela. Water wells, creek beds, old country roads that are isolated, barns, woods, fields, and abandoned buildings were heavily combed with no luck.
Eleven days later the Clinton Police Department contacted the Missouri Rural Crime Scene Squad seeking help into the investigation. As a result, 25 police officers from 15 neighboring counties happily accommodated them. The Missouri Highway Patrol also looked through their database of all registered vehicles. A list of 1,600 potential pickup trucks matching what Angela’s kidnapper was possibly driving was compiled and sought out for new suspects, but the extensive search proved fruitless.
The police were at a loss for words–perplexed as to how a small town crime wasn’t providing evidence and answers that would hone in on a probable suspect. In turn, they started to consider the possibility that Angela’s abduction could be connected to two similar disappearances that had occurred within an 80-mile radius months earlier in January and February of 1991.
In Macks Creek, Missouri — a small country-oriented town with a population of fewer than 500 residents — on Saturday, January 19, 1991, 42-year-old Trudy Darby was working the night shift at the local K & D Convenience Store. At approximately 10:00 p.m. Trudy was in the process of closing up the store for the night when she noticed three men lingering just outside of the store. Feeling unnerved by their presence, she phoned her son, Waylon Darby, asking him to assist her because she felt uncomfortable. Waylon obliged and arrived in ten minutes, but his mother was nowhere to be found. Two days later on January 21, 1991, Trudy’s nude body was discovered fifteen miles away in the Little Niangua River; she had been shot twice in the head by a .38 caliber.
One month later on Wednesday, February 27, 1991, another remarkably similar incident occurred 80-miles away in Nevada, Missouri — another small town about the same size as Clinton, Missouri. Cheryl Ann Kenney, a 30-year-old wife, and mother of two, was working at the Quality Convenience Store located on Business 71 Highway. It was 10:00 p.m. and she was accompanied by the store janitor and a male customer. The store typically stayed open until midnight, but the night was going relatively slow so she decided to close up the shop and allowed the janitor to leave early. Cheryl proceeded to count the till and store the money in the backroom. At 10:17 p.m. she set the store’s alarm system and made her way to her white Chevrolet resting in the parking lot. It’s unclear as to what truly happened afterward, but she never returned home and hasn’t been seen since.
Three years later in the summer of 1994, the case of the abduction and murder of Trudy Darby was solved. The perpetrators were 15-year-old Jessie Rush and his half-brother, Marvin Chaney. They were arrested after Jessie had visited Kansas City and bragged to multiple friends — Elizabeth Corpening, Carl Blakely, and Gretchen Chastain — that he was responsible for Trudy’s murder and successfully got away with it. Jessie’s friends were shocked by his revelations and rightfully alerted the police. Subsequently, he was interrogated and ultimately confessed to the crime.
Jessie didn’t hold back the details of the grisly crime. He professed that he, Chaney, and another accomplice had planned the abduction of Trudy beforehand. They entered the store and held her up at gunpoint — stealing $220.00 from the cash register and forcing her into their vehicle. She attempted to defend herself, which only angered them more. 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.
A few months later on December 24, 1994, Trudy’s father, Wilbert Blecher, passed away at the age of 69-years-old. Before perishing, he expressed his utmost gratitude for being alive long enough to have the resolution and justice he desperately sought after for three years. Six years following on November 21, 2000, Trudy’s mother, Betty Jean Thompson Belcher passed away at 74-years-old.
While Jessie was in jail awaiting trial he became acquainted with several inmates, one of whom was Edward Thomas, who he befriended because he believed he was a lawyer that could help him lessen his charges of abduction and murder. With his misguided faith, Jessie wrote 13 letters to Thomas that incriminated him further with Darby’s murder and also suggested that he and Chaney are behind many more audacious unsolved crimes that hadn’t been solved.
In one particular letter, he proclaimed:
I just wish my brother would have done like I said at the barn and burnt the bitch up but that pussy ass cheevers and parel desided to take the bitch to a fuckin river instead. I was to fucked up to argue with em all I wanted to do was fuck the bitch then shoot her in the head to watch her brains come out. Sounds cool huh? if the bitch would have not moved in the trunk at the river my brother wouldn’t of had to shoot her in the head again just the have the cops find a shell the stupid mother fucker the only smart thing we did was have marshels brother greg burn the barn other wise the mother fuckers would have a lot more on us. im glad they don’t know every thing else we did or i’d be on death row.
In a barrage of additional letters sent to Thomas, Jessie alluded that he Chaney had committed many more unsolved crimes, saying:
I never told you about them other bitchs because if it gets found by accident it can get us involved in killing them other fucking bitchs. the cops don’t even know about my brother and me killing any other bitchs except Macks Creek. them other bitchs in my last letter to you were both like that bitch in Macks Creek we all tortured the bitchs then fucked the dog shit out of em.
Three years later in April 1997, Jessie Rush and Marvin Chaney were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Rush was transported to South Central Correctional Facility in Licking, Missouri, and Chaney was imprisoned at the maximum-security Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Missouri. In September of 2017, Chaney passed away at the age of 56-years-old due to natural causes.
As for Angela’s disappearance in 1991, the first year was emotionally overwhelming for family and friends, because they still had to maintain their responsibilities as an adult. In June of 1991, Rob Shafer had gone to Fort Eustis, VA, to train for the National Guardsmen, while Kyla Engeman planned to relocate to Colorado. Later that year, Marsha won a vacation trip to Florida from her place of employment, but she didn’t want to accept the prize because she felt guilty — spending time having a few days of enjoyment while her daughter was missing. Nevertheless, friends and coworkers convinced her to take the opportunity to recharge her batteries from all the turmoil.
In October of 1991, a new possible lead emerged from a man named Russel Smith. He was living in Libau, Manitoba, Canada, but decided to visit family living in Ulrich, Missouri. He hadn’t any knowledge regarding who Angela was or the circumstances surrounding her disappearance until he saw a missing person’s poster. Once he did, he had an epiphany and immediately contacted the Clinton Police Department. According to his assertion, during September he witnessed a woman matching Angela’s description getting inside of a green pickup truck that had a white top and mural on the rear window after leaving a drugstore in Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada.
Russel’s bold allegation caused Clinton’s Police Chief Bob Pattison to contact Sgt Bob MacQuarrie of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to alert them to the possible new development. In response, MacQuarrie followed up on the sighting. Considering Angela was four-months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, they made the logical deduction that she may have given birth to her child. They proceeded to visit all the hospitals and baby stores in the area with Angela’s photograph to see if any staff members had remembered seeing her, but nobody recognized her.
The following month in November 1991, the production crew for Unsolved Mysteries arrived in Clinton, Missouri, to film a re-enactment of Angela’s disappearance. The episode was broadcasted on television the very next month. With the latest televised coverage, David Rader, the producer for the television show, urged law enforcement to not raise their expectations too high because only two of the 49 missing person cases they covered had been solved by the public. By the end of 1991, the investigation into Angela’s disappearance was met with despondency.
In the summer of 1992, another baffling mystery occurred in Springfield, Missouri, when Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter, and Stacy McCall vanished without a trace on the same night. Their disappearance sent shockwaves across the nation. Shortly thereafter, Marsha became friends with Stacy’s mother, Janis McCall, and formed a unique bond — becoming a moral support shoulder to lean on in the wake of their nightmarish tragedies. The two of them were later invited to be on the Oprah Winfrey show to keep their missing loved ones in the spotlight in the hopes of garnishing new leads that would bring closure.
Regrettably, Angela’s disappearance went stagnant for years. The police had ruled out Jessie Rush and Marvin Chaney as suspects in Angela’s disappearance and couldn’t locate any hard evidence linking them to Cheryl’s vanishing either. In April of 2009, new information was brought forth by the Clinton Police Department. They provided a statement to the media claiming they have new evidence in the case, particularly of DNA nature, due to advancements in technology an forensic science, but they never elaborated fully as to what they unearthed.
Since then, very little updates have surfaced in the subsequent years. 27-years have passed from when Angela disappeared, and lack of answers has continued to plague friends and family of Angela’s. Nonetheless, they had to resume building on to their own lives. The Hammond family still pursues closure with a relentless passion and makes sure Angela’s memory isn’t forgotten. They still remain in contact with Rob and consider him a part of their family. As for Rob Shafer, he eventually moved 60 miles away and works construction and has a beautiful family of his own. Though the heartache and what-ifs still linger, Angela’s family embraces her gleeful personality–honoring her by thinking positive and shedding light in dark places, as Angela so often did.