Episode 1 of a 9 episode season of a serialized investigation. For the rest of the story
When Angela Ewert vanished after pulling over to the side of a highway late one night, police realized an ominous pattern was emerging. She was the third young woman in about 10 weeks to go missing from the same part of town and under eerily similar circumstances.
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Welcome to True Crime by Indie Drop-In each week, we feature an episode from the best independent creators hit subscribe for more great, true crime content. If you would like to help indie drop-in support indie creators, you can buy us a coffee. Just go to https://buymeacoffee.com/indiedropin or click the link in the show notes below today’s episode is from still don’t forget to check out the show notes for links to subscribe and follow us on social media. Enjoy the show. Begin. This podcast includes discussion of violent crimes. Listener discretion is advised When you start to feel motion sickness coming on, you’re supposed to keep your eyes on the horizon to help your brain recalibrate and regain a sense of balance.
You’re trying to calm the spinning. I’ve had to mentally apply that technique a lot. As I examined a cluster of unsolved cases of women who were abducted and murdered between 1983 and 1985. That’s because when you immerse yourself in these cases, nothing is simple and clear. Could one person have killed all these women searching for that answer feels like jumping into the vortex of a tornado and trying to pick out the truth. As mere coincidence is mixed with the relevant similarities and facts swirling around you.
So you wait until the dust settles and the air is still as you plot the details of each case on paper. You can clearly see the damage left by a terrible storm that swept through the lives of the victims, families and friends, more than 35 years later, they’re still waiting for answers. Still waiting for justice, still waiting for peace from the pages of the reporter’s notebook.
This is still I’m your host, Gary Anderson At the end of 1984, the Southwest side of Fort worth Texas was the epicenter of this storm, but its tendrils stretched over months and across city boundaries and county lines.
As my colleagues and I started sifting through a mountain of cold cases from north Texas, we saw patterns emerge that pointed to the real possibility of a serial killer. I want to be clear though. We don’t think all the cases from this area in this time period are connected. We looked at dozens of unsolved murders before we began to narrow the criteria and identify specific patterns echoed among them. We weren’t the first to see those patterns. Police have analyzed them for years, but without DNA proof and definitive evidence, it would be a mistake to declare with certainty that one person committed multiple murders.
In fact, when these murders happened, police at first emphatically declared that they weren’t connected. The investigators who inherited these cold cases have benefited from the clarity of hindsight and like them. We now know that more than one serial killer did hunt for victims in this region around this time, if you were living in the part of north Texas called the metroplex in the mid 1980s, the chances aren’t bad that you brushed past at least one serial killer. I’ll let that sink in for a moment, But don’t take my word for it. So like thinking along with my supervisor is some of these girls That’s retired Fort worth police, detective Manny, Rayez talking, he established the Fort worth police departments, first homicide cold case unit in the mid two thousands.
He was also a young patrol officer in the 1980s when these murders were happening, several of these women were abducted while getting into or out of their vehicles. And police began to theorize that someone was preying upon stranded female drivers. All we know for certain is that one by one, these women were being plucked from their surroundings without any known witnesses. I remember as a patrol officer, we were pretty well told regardless of what kind of call you’re going to have. You see a stranded female motorist, you will stop and assist regardless of what kind of call you’re on.
That’s how serious it was that we were losing females and city of Fort worth. So we did take it extremely serious in patrol. We just couldn’t stop. Manny reeled off a list of serial killers. Investigators later learned were in Fort worth. At that time, we’ll examine some of those as potential suspects in a later episode, but we also need to note that the killer could have been someone else. Was it possible that other serial killers pass by or were around and stuff? And the answer is yes, that is a very good possibility that you know, that could have happened to some of these girls where there was a serial killer that might’ve been hanging out for a week, a month or a year or a couple of years, more than one.
I mean, we only found six, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t more In case you missed it. He just said six serial killers. This at a time when Fort warts population was less than 500,000 And the six that were found were all through DNA. And we were very lucky that some of the stuff that we were able to use for DNA testing that was collected The first time DNA was ever used anywhere to solve a crime was in 1987 in England, several years after these women were preyed upon in earlier years, police collected evidence much differently. If we saw evidence when we needed it was evidence, but then we looked at it and go, what good is this drug going to do it?
Or what good is this? Can we fingerprinted it? There’s no prints of value. And they would pretty much dismiss that. Well, honestly, we really didn’t collect anything with DNA intentions that also hurt us because we didn’t know what the future was going to be like. How could they even now science is revealing new techniques that we couldn’t imagine just a few years ago. Soon investigators could have access to tests that have the potential to unlock the answers to seemingly unsolvable crimes. We’ll explore these advances in an upcoming episode, when we talk to an expert about the current state of DNA forensics, but back in the mid 1980s, old fashioned police work was all they had.
They could match blood samples. If there were any, they could interview witnesses. If there were any and they could match tire tracks or bullets again, if there were any and they could look for similarities to potentially link cases if they had a suspect. So let’s go back and review what we’ve learned about a handful of cases we believe could be linked in all we’ll examine seven cold cases, but we’ll start by delving into four particular cases in the first few episodes, the similarities of these four cases, including when and where they happened, jumped out at us.
I want to explain that we do skip around in time a little bit because the patterns line up more clearly when we analyze the cases this way, it’s sort of like when someone cuts an intricate paper, snowflake from a folded sheet of paper, the shape seems dauntingly complicated until you fold the paper back up and see its basic structure. We will note exactly when each case happened in relation to the others. As we go along to make it a little less confusing toward the end of our season. We’ll talk about the final three cases by then we believe the pattern that has emerged will be more discernible.
Our hope is that by talking about what happened, someone listening will remember seeing or hearing something and we’ll contact police. You may hold a clue needed to solve one of these crimes. We also want to point out that we’re not police investigators and we don’t know everything. The police know about these cases. They have to keep much of their information confidential to maintain the integrity of their investigations. We’re journalists who have spent months diving deep into publicly available information and talking with friends and family members of victims, who we successfully gotten in touch with it. Hasn’t always been easy.
We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or you have dialed is not in the wireless customer. You are calling is not available. Please try again later. Goodbye. Keep in mind. This is more than 35 years after these murders, we haven’t been able to reach everyone we’d like to, and some have chosen to stay out of the spotlight. That’s completely understandable. In fact, we often remind ourselves that the families and friends who lost someone during this horrible time, still carry pain and scars talking about what happened, reopens those wounds. As we walk through these cases, our intent is to be as sensitive as we can while we search for truth.
We also want to note that much of our research has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. So the vast majority of the interviews you hear were conducted over the phone for the few interviews where we met in person, we followed all CDC health guidelines. So let’s dive into our first case. is one of the first people we spoke with. As we began our investigation, he has waged a quiet war to keep one victim, Angela, Edward, from being forgotten and to remind anyone who will listen, that her murder remains unsolved every December on the anniversary of her disappearance.
And every August on the date, her remains were found. Robert posts something on his Facebook page, petitions, immediate organization, to look into her case and spends time remembering the friend he calls Angie in 2018. He successfully got the attention of Dateline NBC and a short piece about Angie was published online that December, This just kind of became my little, my little mission to at least keep, keep the thought alive. And so there there’s, there’s quite a few of us that would like to now I thought the world of Everlane, Angie, I mean, she was amazing. My lasting memory of her.
I took her to school one day. There was a period where she couldn’t drive and I took her to school one day and I happened to be a pep rally day. And her, her part of the drill team was doing the pep rally band. And she said, okay, you can’t watch me. Cause I don’t think I know the dance, but she was an officer. And, and you know, I said, yeah, whatever. And I of course watched her and she doesn’t, she did great and all that, but every time I hear the song, my Sharona, cause that was the pep rally song that day. Every time I hear that song, I think I heard, you know, and, and it’s a good memory. It’s a happy memory, but then like, okay, but she’s not here. So Angela Lee Heward was a junior at Fort Worth’s Eastern Hills high school.
When Robert met her in a class, they took together, he was a senior, she was a junior, the two became fast friends and Robert soon developed a crush on Angie. She became the connection to many of the other young women. He became friends with that year. He spent so much time helping and hanging out with the girls on the drill team that he was crowned drill team king by his classmates. Robert joined me and my wife who is also one of my colleagues on this podcast. As we drove around Southwest Fort worth one night visiting the site where Angie was last seen alive. Yeah. Well, Had it not been for Angie who sat behind me in, in that class and thought I never would have met any of them.
And it was just all these lasting friendships that I have because of her, you know, in any way. Now, if you think about it, I mean, I can literally just feel myself in that seat, in that classroom. And she sat right by, But after high school, Robert and Angie lost touch, Robert graduated in 1980 and was accepted into Fort worth Texas Christian university. Andrew graduated the following year and went on to Texas tech university in Lubbock about 300 miles west of Fort worth. Then in 1983, they ran into each other at a Dallas airport. And She was, I guess, singing off some friends for a flight across from the flight that I was seeing my friend off for.
And Richard was French or there, Hey, how are you doing? What’s going on? Yeah, we’ll have to, we’ll have to get together. And then that didn’t happen. So It’s a painful regret for Robert. We’ll be back after we pause for this short break. Let’s talk now about the night Angie disappeared, it was December 10th, 1984, by then Angie was 21. She had matured from the pretty girl Robert crushed on, in high school to a beautiful young woman with the looks of a model.
As we stepped back in time to walk through what happened that night. We want to pause a moment to give you a heads up. When we tell each victim’s story, we’ve changed the names of a few people connected to some of the victims because we weren’t able to reach them for the podcast and police determined. They were essentially innocent bystanders police either never considered them suspects or eventually cleared them. These people’s names are easily discoverable through newspaper clippings, but they have every right to want privacy. We asked that our listeners grant them that also keep in mind how different many things were in 1984.
Back then, if you needed to make a phone call while driving, you looked for a payphone and hoped you had a quarter for the call and placing a call to Dallas from Fort worth, for instance, cost extra because it was considered long distance while it’s true that some people at the time had expensive leases on mobile phones. They certainly weren’t common. And they were generally most popular among high rolling yuppies. In 1984, people wrote checks to pay their bills. And if you needed cash, it was likely that you visited a live teller at a bank or cashed a check at a grocery store ATM’s were around, but they weren’t ubiquitous debit cards.
Weren’t a thing yet. And gas pumps, they weren’t electronic. You still had to pay a clerk for gas. And that often meant going inside the gas station. So here we are on the night of December 10th, 1984, it’s getting late on this Monday night, Angie isn’t feeling great and wants to get home. It’s been a wonderful night. Don’t get me wrong. She was just promoted to a better job at the most popular rock radio station in north Texas, K E G L the Eagle.
She has a new car and is freshly engaged. In fact, Angie and her fiance just returned from shopping and she knows she is going to get an engagement ring for Christmas, but it’s now past 11 inside her future. In-laws ranch style home in Southwest Fort worth. Angie is tired and feeling a little under the weather. It’s still a 20 minute drive back to her parents’ house, where she lives on the east side of Fort worth. And she has to be back at work in the morning. And she also needs to buy gas or she won’t make it all the way home. Usually her fiance will call him.
Patrick follows Angie home if it’s late, but his car is low on gas too. And he’d have to cash a check to fill up his tank. Angie doesn’t want to wait the extra 30 minutes for him to go to a grocery store to do that. So she heads toward home by herself, first driving to the seven 11 at the corner of Westmont circle, north and trail lake drive to buy gas. It’s one of the few gas stations around open this late. And it’s just a few minutes from Patrick’s house. Angie Braves, the chilly air while she pumps the gas. This is north Texas. So the air isn’t frigid, it’s around 50 degrees right now. Andrew is wearing a red sweater, jeans and white sneakers.
She walks about 15 yards from the gas pump to go inside the seven 11 to pay the store is the second business from the east end of a small shopping strip. The businesses to the right and left of the seven 11 are locked up and dark this late at night. As Angie walks back to her car and bends to duck inside the maroon 1984 mercury Topaz. She doesn’t notice that the front tire on the opposite side of her car has been stabbed. Pocket knife is still lodged in the tire. As she leaves the convenience store and turns east onto the highway service road towards home. She makes it about five miles before she recognizes the drag and the thump of a flat tire and pulls over.
It’s a dark stretch of highway, except for the occasional lights of passing cars. People driving by knows a blue pickup has already pulled up behind Angie’s car. It’s about midnight. Now someone must be there to help in the wee hours of the morning. It’s very early on Tuesday. Now Angie’s parents, Gary and Ann E wort are anxious because Angie hasn’t made it home. Gary calls Patrick what’s up, where’s Angie. They both immediately contact Fort worth police.
Angie is the third woman reported missing in the span of about 10 weeks. Each of these women was last seen within a three mile radius of each other. And none has been seen since for city like Fort worth with a relatively small town atmosphere. This is highly unusual. The homicide team gets involved right away. Foremost On investigators minds right now are the three missing persons cases involving Katherine Davis, Cindy Heller, and Angie wort all reported missing from the same part of Fort worth For Angie themselves almost immediately. They spot her car along the route. She would have taken home.
It’s parked on the highway shoulder with the doors locked and there’s no sign of Angie, no sign of a struggle either except for a broken pocket knife on the ground near her car Police theorized, Angie must have taken her purse and gone for help on foot maybe to find a payphone. But when they inspected her car police saw that the flat tire had been replaced with the spare and the ruined tire was in the trunk. From what we’ve learned, it doesn’t seem she changed the tire herself. And why would she go for help? If her tire had already been changed? The most recent was Angela Edward, whose car was found along the loop eight 20 she’d apparently had a flat tire, had been changed and put in her trunk.
Yeah, I had been to Scott’s house that night. That’s Jan Hughes. She thinks she may have actually passed Angie’s car on her way back to the university of Texas at Arlington, from Fort worth where she was visiting her own fiance. The night Angie disappeared. Arlington is a sprawling suburb about halfway between Dallas and Fort worth. Jan was a good friend of Angie’s from the high school. But at that time he was living at his parents. I was living in my sorority house at UTA, but I had been at Scott’s house that night. He was living with his parents though. So I either had to drive by before or after she was in that spot. Media picked up on Angie’s disappearance, immediately a short article about her appears in the evening paper on December 11th, the first day of searching.
This is Jan. Again, It’s almost surreal because you think it’s 20 or 21 that you’re invincible. I mean, you really do. I didn’t, I didn’t think anything about driving home from my boyfriend’s house. I mean, that kind of stuff didn’t it didn’t happen. Like it just didn’t happen. Then, like I said, I had the TV at the sorority house and my room. I can remember I was down the hall and one of my girlfriend’s rooms and the news was on and I was like, oh my God, I know her. And oh my gosh, I drove right by there last night, coming home or whatever night it was. But that was where I, I mean, like I really vividly remember where I was when I saw it on the news.
The fact that Angie had been driving when she disappeared, stood out to Jan. So it was weird in high school for a while. She didn’t have a driver’s license. That’s what was really odd because she, she had had an epilepsy epileptic seizure Because her purse wasn’t found in her car, her family and friends felt at least a small bit of comfort that Angie would have had her epilepsy medication with her. She was the sweetest person you could ever imagine. Like she was just a really kind hearted person, always there. If you needed to talk to somebody or very positive, it’s hard to wrap your brain around that somebody would want to hear it. You know how after something happens to someone, people tend to say how nice they were.
You don’t want to speak ill of them. Right. But with Angie, it’s clear that the people who knew her truly felt she had the purest spirit. This is another friend, Juliet Eisenberg describing Angie. You’re just one of those people that you want to be around. She was always like a bright light. So it just really affects you. I think when it’s, that happens to someone who’s locked, that you’re locked, you know, that’s hard, Julie, can’t imagine a scenario that would have prompted Angie to get into a car with a stranger. Yeah. She was not locked to, you know, fly by the seat of her pants or, I mean, she was a cautious individual, you know, I, I don’t, I don’t see her doing that at all, being that trusting of some, some stranger, because I think that area of town was starting.
And I think where they found her car was starting to get stopped the best part of Fort worth. So, you know, I don’t know that she would have a very seriously doubt. She would have gone willingly Throughout the course of our investigation. We’ve talked with various people about the mystery surrounding Angie’s abduction. It’s particularly strange because while there weren’t a ton of cars on the road at that time of night, people were driving by, if you remember, witnesses saw a blue pickup pulled over behind Angie’s car, surely someone would’ve noticed if there was a struggle, one person theorized that maybe because of the chili temperature, Angie would have accepted an offer to sit in the pickup with the heater on while the stranger changed her tire.
From that point, it certainly would have been easier to take her, but how do you keep someone inside the car once you start driving away? Wouldn’t she jump out? Cause a ruckus. Here’s our friend, Robert Jacobs. Again, you can hear traffic noise in the background because we’re standing on the very spot where Angie disappeared. I honestly don’t think she had ever experienced people being mean to her. I don’t think that had ever happened to her. And so she didn’t know how direct to that. And or to know that that could be coming maybe very easy for her to trust someone who said, oh, well let me help you.
Because if there was an attack, somebody would have seen something. Somebody would have seen it and noticed that now, and then what else, what else happened? W was there an assault that happened? Was it prolonged? Really just do it immediately. And she didn’t suffer Robert agonizes over the thought of Angie trying to fend off an attack. He wonders how physically powerful her assailant was.
We do have some theories about how someone with evil intentions could have done this without as much effort as you might think. And some of the evidence found in other cases backs up our theory, but I’m getting ahead of myself. All police knew at the time was that each of the missing women had been in their cars and were somehow taken investigators, theorized that someone or maybe several different individuals preyed upon women who had car trouble. Well, the Fort Worth police is suggesting is if you find yourself out at night and your car quits, get out of the car, put the hood up, then get back in. And once you’re back inside the car, Lock your doors and sit tight.
Some of the searches for Angie and the other missing women included spotters and helicopters to get a better view of rural fields and creeks. The police didn’t find anything today. They say they don’t have any major leads in the court case. All they can do now is follow up on tips called in by citizens. Angie’s father joined many of the searches for his daughter. His face showed a mix of fear and hope as he scanned thick brushy grass. We can only imagine what he was feeling. They began For sunrise about 35 volunteers and Gary Edward, the father of 21 year old Angie Edward Angie has been missing since Monday night. And these volunteers were determined to make every effort to find her y’all started this line.
Let me get groups of too many groups. Even though many of the volunteers were called away to assist those involved in the east Dallas county, tornado disaster. A number of Gary Edwards, friends and fellow church members continued the search, nothing was found, but Angie’s father will not give up until all avenues of hope are exhausted. And we have, we have a very strong faith in her God. And if she’s not all right, and she’s, if something happened that she is dead well, we know she’s with the heavenly father Without any promising new leads, police hope to prevent more of the ominous disappearances by ramping up operation lone woman, a program started nearly two decades earlier with the disappearance of another female motorist.
Although it was almost certainly unrelated to the 1984 disappearances, the case had eerie similarities. Angie was only three and a half years old when 37 year old Mildred may disappear in, in early February of 1967, the car Mildred had been driving was found abandoned along the eastbound side of interstate 30 in Fort worth its doors were locked and there were no clues as to what may have happened. Mildred, the next day two young men found her on a levy of the Trinity river. She was nude and her whole body had been brutalized. She had been raped and violently strangled. Her murder was never solved for years.
Area women were terrified of encountering car trouble at night. Operation. Lone woman gave them tips for staying safe when driving alone and placed them as a priority for police assistance. If they became stranded police revitalized operation, lone woman after Angie were disappeared for the moment. And until they make an arrest, it’s the best they can do. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Next time on still the last victim was reportedly last seen about a block from where Angela Edward was last, seen alive.
Anyone with information pertaining to any of the murders we’ve discussed should contact the Fort worth police departments, cold case unit. At coldCase@fortworthpd.com still is a production of the reporter’s notebook and Grayson Shaw media. You can connect with us online at the reporter’s notebook.com or via email at info at the reporter’s notebook.com still was researched, written and produced by Karen Shaw. Anderson research was also provided by associate producer, Christine Hughes, original music by smithii Oso, additional narration provided by Sarah Morgan.
I’m your host and associate producer. Gary Anderson special thanks to everyone who graciously provided interviews and helped with our research, including those for upcoming episodes like follow and subscribe to still on your favorite podcast platform and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the conversation. Yeah, limitations three 21 yet. I still dare to hope when I remember this, You hear the rest of the story. Check the show notes below to subscribe to still thanks again for listening to true crime by Indy drop-in if you would like your show featured, reach out to us at indie drop-in on all social media or go to Indy, drop in.com.
See you next time.