It was a parent’s worst nightmare. On November 18, 1993, nine-year-old Angie Housman disappeared after getting off her school bus in eastern Missouri’s St. Ann.
Although there was no shortage in manpower to find the missing fourth grader, the case left investigators baffled. Robert Lowery, Jr. was the commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis at the time.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. A little girl gets off of the school bus and she’s a hundred feet from her house and disappears into thin air. I don’t understand it,” Lowery told the media back in 1993.
Nine days later on November 27, two days after Thanksgiving, two hunters found the little girl’s body tied to a tree in the Busch Wildlife area in St. Charles County.
It was a horrific and gruesome scene. Angie’s partially nude body was bound to a
tree. Her eyes were covered with duct tape and she was handcuffed. An autopsy determined Angie had been raped and died of exposure. Even more disturbing, she had only been dead a few hours when she was found. This meant she was kept alive during the nine days she was missing and that if she would have been found just a few hours earlier, perhaps she would have survived. Yet, that wasn’t to be.
The case sent shockwaves through the community. Captain Dan DeCarli, now commander of the Major Case Squad, was one of the investigators involved in the case.
“This case woke up the entire community about child safety. Just don’t think because your child can walk one block down from your house and be safe,” DeCarli said.
The case has haunted investigators. DeCarli recalls how the case impacted him.
“I went home every night and while my kids were sleeping, I just stared at them for a little bit, just to make sure they were safe and secure and in bed,” said DeCarli.
Fear within the community was heightened when another north St. Louis County girl vanished the following month. Ten-year-old Cassidy Senter was walking to her friend’s home in her Hazelwood neighborhood when she was abducted. Several days later, Cassidy’s body was found in an alley in north St. Louis.
Now retired, Jim Nelson, was the special agent in charge for the FBI in St. Louis at the time.
“The whole area was on high alert. Did we have a serial kidnapper and killer,” Nelson asked.
It turned out, Cassidy’s case was unrelated to Angie’s. Her killer, 27-year-old Thomas Brooks was later arrested. Investigators determined that Brooks was not a suspect in Angie’s murder. Brooks was later convicted and sentenced to death. He ended up dying in prison before his execution could be carried out.
Still, 25 years later, Angie’s murder remains unsolved. Angie’s case was one of the first major stories reporter Jill Enders covered and it has stayed with Enders all of these years, as it has for Debbie Klingler, who is among a group of mothers leading the Justice For Angie effort. Back in 2017, Klingler created a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/AngieHousman. Its purpose is to honor Angie and generate leads.
Klingler met Angie’s mother, Diane Bone, back in 1993 at a grief support group. She had also experienced the loss of a child. Her 10-month-old son Stephen died in 1985 after heart and lung surgery. Klingler continued to attend the support group to help other grieving parents.
Klingler recalls the first time she met Diane Bone at the grief support group in December 1993.
“Just the look on her face, I can still see it. It was like someone is just physically there, but other than that they’re just in shock and not there,” she said.
Angie’s mother would not live to see her daughter’s killer brought to justice. Diane Bone died in 2016 after a battle with cancer.
Although, Angie’s life was tragically cut short, her legacy lives on. Family and friends remember the little girl as someone with a heart bigger than herself. Her stepfather, Ron Bone, shares the time when Angie won a $500 shopping spree at a toy store.
“She wanted a bicycle with a radio on it. We still got it. I haven’t gotten rid of it. It’s rusted up and everything, but I kept it. She wanted that and said to give the rest of the money to other kids who need stuff.” Ron Bone shared.
Ron Bone now resides in Woodson Terrace with his two sons, Ronnie, 27, and Richie, 16. The three keep Angie’s memory alive, with photos of her proudly displayed on the walls of the family home.
Angie’s cousin, Christina Maguyon, has fond childhood memories of Angie. The two would play “pretend people” and make each other laugh as Maguyon shared.
Only a year and a half apart in age, Maguyon remembers her younger cousin as someone who loved people.
“She was always smiling and laughing. She would say hi to people when we would go to a store. She was a little people person,” Maguyon said.
As the 25th anniversary of Angie’s murder approaches, her family is reminded of that tragic day and hopes and prays for justice.
Thousands of leads have been investigated and multiple task forces have been formed over the years. Investigators hope increasingly sophisticated DNA technology will lead to a break in the case and tips from the public.
The St. Charles County Police Department, which now leads the investigation, is asking anyone with information about the case to call its Crime Tip Line at 636-949-3002.
Meanwhile, Buder Elementary School, where Angie attend school, will replace a tree dedicated to Angie. More than 20 years ago, a tree was planted at the school to honor the late Angie Housman. Now, that tree must be replaced.
A new Shidare Yoshino Weeping Cherry tree will be planted on Friday, Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. in the same location as the original memorial tree that sat in front of the school, 10350 Baltimore Ave. in St. Ann. The entire community is invited to special re-dedication ceremony at Noon on Saturday, Nov. 17 in front of Buder Elementary.
The new tree will replace the original tree that was planted in front of the school with a special plaque dedicated to Angie.
By Missourinet contributor Jill Enders