(Original post April, 2021. Last updated October, 2022.)
Usually the sort crimes that peak my interest are ones I share some geographic or personal tie with. In the case of Angela Hamby, the places she frequented and lived are local to me. In fact, the restaurant where her car was found, now called Glenn’s Restaurant is one I’ve eaten at myself, and I’ve taken some classes at the same college where she was enrolled.
It also seems perplexing that a young woman could go missing in the Wilkes community and never be seen or heard from again. Despite crime in the local area and drug-related crimes even back then being a source of trouble, the abduction and likely murder of a 20 year old woman feels different.
Account from The Charley Project:
Hamby left her home in Wilkesboro, North Carolina at 9:30 a.m. on October 29, 1982 to make a car payment for herself and a deposit for her mother at the NCNB Bank. Afterwards, she planned to deliver a message to her sister who was up the street from the bank, then return home to go on an out-of-town shopping trip with her mother.
When Hamby didn’t arrive home by noon, her mother called the bank and discovered she’d never made it there. She also hadn’t been to see her sister. She has never been heard from again.
Later that day, Hamby’s silver 1980 Mazda RX7 was found unlocked and abandoned at Glenn`s Tastee Freeze in Wilkesboro. It was parked in the back, near the dumpsters. It had a full tank of gas and her pocketbook and driver’s license were inside the car, but her keys were gone and so was the money she’d been carrying.
Witnesses reported Hamby was seen at 11:30 a.m., driving her car to the location where it was found. She was accompanied by a “rough-looking” blond man at the time, and was talking to him. She has never been heard from again. A sketch of the suspect is posted with this case summary.
Hamby is described as a dependable person who would not have left without telling anyone. She graduated from West Wilkes High School and took a job in data processing at Northwestern Bank on Oakwood Road. She also enrolled at Wilkes Community College and hoped to transfer to Appalachian State University.
Two suspects were investigated for possible involvement in Hamby’s case in 1987, but they turned out to have been incarcerated at the time of her disappearance. Her case remains unsolved.
It’s been hard finding much information about this case outside of the standard entries on Charley Project and places like Websleuths.
The geography is only known thanks to an old article from the Wilkesboro newspaper. The map below shows Pads Road, where Hamby lived, and where she left from at about 9:30 AM, the NCNB Bank (now the town hall building) where she was headed to, and the Tastee Freeze where her car was eventually found.
After leaving home, her family believe she must have stopped for gas. This seems to have happened, because when her car was found the tank was full, and according to family, she left home with an almost empty tank. She was then going to deposit the money at NCNB and was afterwards supposed to pass a message to her sister, who was working at Burke’s Jewelers, which was not far from the bank. Of course, neither of the latter two things happened.
The hours between Angela leaving home, fueling up her car, and being witnessed in her car at 11:30 with another person, and her car being found leave a lot of time for something or several things to happen. It’s only about a 10 minute drive from her home to the bank, and she never made it to the bank.
The gas station would be the most likely place for whatever event upended her trip. This would probably have been a Wilco station on US-421, about halfway between her home and the area where the bank was.
One thing that strikes me as odd is that her car is found at the Tastee Freeze on a Friday near lunch time. It’s hard for me to say what traffic at the restaurant was like back then, but today, something strange going on in the parking lot would be noticed by the numerous people who are in and out during the lunchtime rush. It seems that someone would have seen something even back then. One employee at the Tastee Freeze did claim to see Angie in the passenger seat of her car and a male passenger in the driver’s seat. She said it “looked like they were arguing”. But beyond that, no one else seems to have laid eyes on Angie or the unknown man.
The fact that she disappears without her car most likely means another vehicle was involved. This means whoever did something to her either had a car waiting at the Tastee Freeze or nearby, or was able to contact someone to pick Angela and her abductor(s) up.
The missing money may have been part of the motive for what happened, or was simply taken as well during the abduction. If robbery was the first motive, someone would have had to have known she had the money or somehow discovered she did during her trip.
There have been rumblings in the community through the years about what might have happened. The old “police involvement” trope has been bandied about with no real substance. This is a common one when a case can’t be easily solved, and there’s no evidence to support it.
Police themselves have admitted the case is still active in some way beyond the two initial suspects they questioned in 1987. I believe most recently they looked into serial killer Christopher J Below after receiving a tip from Websleuths noting his similarity to the composite drawing. To date nothing has come of that. The Wilkesboro Police department stated on it’s Facebook in July, 2020 they were actively investigating other leads.
Angela’s father, Jerry, unfortunately passed away at the age of 81 in 2019 without ever knowing what happened to his daughter. I believe her mother is still living at the time I am writing this in 2021. Certainly Angela’s mother and her sister Cheryl would like closure.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Angela Gray Hamby from Wilkesboro, NC in 1982, please contact the Wilkes County Sheriff’s office via their tip line at 336-667-8900 or submit a tip online via http://wilkescounty.crimestoppersweb.com/.
Update: As an addendum to the original post, I want to include some sources that might shed some more light on this case.
Some of the details I include in my write up are taken from newspaper articles that appeared in the Wilkes Record, a local independent newspaper. Unfortunately, no physical copies of the old issues are available to me and the paper’s website suffered some hard drive failures that means digital copies of old articles have been lost as well.
I was however able to reach out to Jerry Lankford, the paper’s editor, who has written a number of articles over the years about the case, asking for any information he may have. As providence would have it, Mr. Lankford saved copies of the old articles himself, and was able to pass them along to me. I want to include them here for the sake of keeping them in the public sphere. They relate details about the case that aren’t available anywhere else and they show Angie as more than a name or a statistic, but as a person, a sister, a daughter, and someone who is missed.
Further Update: Lane Dyer, who knew Angie posted a remembrance of her with the Wilkes Record for the 40 year anniversary of her disappearance. You can read that on the Wilkes Record’s site.
WHO WAS ANGIE HAMBY
by Jerry Lankford, Record Editor
Originally published circa 2000
Angie Hamby was smart, pretty and fiercely independent. Her five-foot, four-inch, 105-pound frame was delicate to the touch, “almost birdlike,” said her sister, Cheryl Church. Angie had hazel-specked blue eyes. They were big and round and shined when she smiled. When they were small children, some mistook Cheryl and her sister – who was 18 months younger – as twins. To look into Cheryl’s eyes is like going back 19 years and seeing Angie once again. But, there is more than a family resemblance – there’s a melancholy joy that quickly changes to confusion, then sometimes pain. “I was thinking the other day about how it used to be with Angie,” Cheryl said. “You know, I’ve spent half my life without her now, and that seems odd.” Cheryl is 40. She is a wife and mother of two daughters. She was 22 when her sister disappeared on Oct. 29, 1982. She’s spent her share of time wondering and worrying about Angie. For years she dreaded for night to come. “I’d have bad dreams. I’d dream all night long that I was searching,” Cheryl said. “Sometimes I’d dream that I found her, but when I woke up and she wasn’t there, I’d fall to pieces.”
As the older sister, Cheryl also felt guilty because she couldn’t find Angie. “I had a gut feeling that she was dead, but I didn’t want to believe it,” she said. “If she was living or breathing, I know she would have called or something.” Cheryl has her own speculations about what happened to her sister. The day she disappeared, a woman at J.E.’s, a downtown North Wilkesboro clothing store, saw Angie walk in the door. Cheryl said the woman knew both her and Angie because they were regular customers. “She told me that Angie was standing near the front of the store, just flipping through the clothes but not looking at them,” Cheryl said. “She said she was looking out the window the whole time. It was like someone was following her and she was trying to avoid them. Whatever it was, though, she must not have been too scared.” The woman working at the store was busy and didn’t see Angie leave. That was around 10 a.m. Angie had left her home on Pads Road around 9:30 to make a deposit at NCNB (at the location which is now North Wilkesboro Town Hall). She was also going to deliver a message to Cheryl, who worked up the street at Burke’s Jewelry, and return home. She and her mother, Shirley, had both taken the day off from work to go shopping out of town. Angie had been alone. Around noon, Angie was spotted at Glenn’s Tastee Freeze in Wilkesboro. A woman working at the restaurant said she saw someone who looked like Angie sitting in the passenger side of a Silver Mazda RX7. A man was in the driver’s seat. “The woman told me that it looked like they were arguing,” Cheryl said. “I think she (Angie) knew whoever it was. I think it was either an acquaintance or someone she had some sort of relationship with and didn’t want anyone to know about.” About the time Angie was seen at Glenn’s, Shirley became worried and called police. The car was found in the restaurant parking lot around 12:30 a.m. – 15 hours after Angie left home.
About the time Angie was seen at Glenn’s, Shirley became worried and called police. The car was found in the restaurant parking lot around 12:30 a.m. – 15 hours after Angie left home. Cheryl recalled that night and seeing Angie’s dark colored pocketbook lying in the passenger side floorboard. Inside the bag, investigators found her driver’s license and other personal items. But there was no cash and the car keys were gone. “The strange thing about that is how (the purse) was placed,” Cheryl said. “The strap was neatly folded around it. That’s how she would have laid it there if she had been in her right frame of mind,” Cheryl added. “If it had been a bad situation, I think she thought if she played her cards right, she’d be able to get out of it somehow.” A forceful abduction would be hard to pull off at the restaurant in the middle of the day, Cheryl said. “That place is always busy. All she would have to have done was scream.” There was another possible sighting of Angie the day she disappeared. A preacher, who was a friend of the family, said he saw a woman that looked like her in a vehicle headed north on N.C. 16 near the intersection of U.S. 421 West. Cheryl said she doesn’t remember what kind of vehicle the man saw, or if the woman he saw was alone. “I have a picture in my mind of how it was, but it’s been so long, I can’t remember if that was what he said or not.” From that information, Cheryl, her father, Jerry, and others headed up the road into Ashe County and into Virginia. They put up posters and asked if anyone had seen Angie. A woman at a convenience store in the Glendale Springs area told Cheryl and her father she might have seen Angie with two men on the day she disappeared. “She told us that the girl that was with them (the men) didn’t look like she belonged with them,” Cheryl said. “She said she acted timid.” The clerk went on to say that the men bought some wine and that the three left together. She didn’t see which direction they went or what kind of vehicle they were in. “It just makes me sick that I was there two days late,” Cheryl said. Many bad times and disappointments were to follow. Cheryl said she recalls hearing her mother cry herself to sleep. “That was tough to go through,” she said. The first couple of days after Angie’s disappearance, Cheryl couldn’t eat and lay awake at night. That changed on the third day – Sunday, Oct. 31. “That day, I had this calm feeling come over me,” Cheryl said. “That was the weirdest feeling. I cried all day long and after that I just felt peaceful. I feel like that was probably when Angie died.”
Angie’s 39th birthday was on Jan. 21. Her favorite color was sky blue. She loved her pet dachshund, Barney, and driving her silver sports car. That car remains parked in her parents’ driveway. “I can’t bare to part with it,” Shirley said. Angie graduated from West Wilkes High School in 1980. During her high school years, her neatly ordered bedroom was decorated with cheerleading pompoms and Blackhawk pennants. At the time of her disappearance, the 20-year-old was enrolled at Wilkes Community College and planned to transfer to Appalachian State University in Boone. She worked second shift at the then Northwestern Bank Data Processing Center on Oakwoods Road. An accomplished pianist and singer, she especially liked to play “You are so Beautiful” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” The sisters would often perform at weddings – Angie on piano, Cheryl singing. Shirley and Jerry were proud of Angie and the things she had accomplished in the few years she was with them. “Angie had just gotten old enough to where she was a good friend, and then we lost her,” Shirley said. “But, there’s no good time to lose a child.” The Hambys have always been active in their church, Pleasant Grove Baptist. “Church was a huge part of our lives,” Cheryl said. “Mom and Daddy took us there every time the door was open.” Church members “offered a lot of good support” after Angie vanished, Shirley said. Phil Chapman, who remains the family’s pastor, was a regular at the home. Marie Nichols, who directed the girls in the church choir, was another source of comfort then. “She’d come by with food and just sit there and listen to us cry,” Cheryl said. Years ago, holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter were hard on the torn family. That pain has ebbed. Saturday, Cheryl sat in the living room of her house next door to her parents on Pads Road. It’s the same house that belonged to her grandmother, Pearl Parsons, who babysat the girls while they were children. The aroma of spiced bread drifted from the kitchen as Cheryl looked at pictures. She showed a photo of her and Angie as toddlers on the front step of their playhouse. “This is one my favorites,” she said.
For Cheryl, the house is full of memories – about her grandmother, her childhood and Angie. When the sisters were 8 and 10, they began piano lessons. Pointing to the next room, Cheryl smiled and said, “We called that the music room. I’d play the piano and Angie would play the pump organ. We’d pretended we were at church and line our dolls up on the couch. They were an attentive audience.” About the same time, the two would listen to old record albums. “We loved to listen to The Beatles and The Monkees,” Cheryl said. “We knew all the words.” They would sing along with the songs and dance under the caring eye of Grandmother Pearl. In the summertime, they’d climb trees, run to the woods and splash in the creek, start softball games in a nearby field or sit and play with their Barbie dolls. As they became older, the individual personalities of the girls began to show. Cheryl said she was the quieter, more studious of the two. “Angie was always the popular one,” she said. “From the time she was in the third grade there would be boys bringing her candy on Valentine’s Day. No one asked me out until I was 17. Angie always had boyfriends.” But as the girls became teenagers and wanted to date, they learned to adhere to their parents’ curfew. When Cheryl left home for Appalachian State University in Boone, the sisters remained close. “She would call me two or three times a day,” Cheryl said. Sometimes Angie would drive up the mountain to help her sister with parties or just to visit. Cheryl married Scott Church in August 1981. It seemed to bother Angie a little that her sister was married. In the fall of 1982, Angie was dating a man. She had gone as far as putting a wedding dress on layaway. After Angie was gone, Shirley paid off the balance on the full-length ivory colored gown. That dress, along with old photographs and the shiny silver car are among the things that remind the family most of Angie. But there are newer members that have never met her. Cheryl’s daughters, Adrienne, 13, and Elizabeth, 10, only know Angie from the pictures and the stories told by their mother and grandparents. “I wish Angie could have met my girls,” Cheryl said. “I know she would have spoiled them. In a way, that’s the saddest thing of all.”
New Leads: Hamby Case Investigators Check Men Who May Match Image
by Jerry Lankford, Record Editor
Originally published circa 2001
Investigators are checking information on two men as possible leads in the Angie Hamby case. But it may be several weeks before information is returned from the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Raleigh. Hamby disappeared on Oct. 29, 1982. All the previous leads in the case have led nowhere. Former SBI Agent Steve Cabe said the series of stories in The Record – which have detailed the investigation into Hamby’s disappearance – are directly responsible for the new information. “As a result of the first two articles, we have obtained a couple of names and have submitted them to Raleigh,” said Cabe, now a captain with the Wilkes Sheriff’s Department. After a composite drawing appeared in The Record on April 4, Cabe said he received the names of two men who possibly fit the description. “I’ve received phone calls from people who are interested in the case and who had some idea about the composite sketch,” Cabe said. Jerry Hamby, Angie’s father, said he is pleased to know investigators have the new leads. “I’m glad for them, I really am,” he said. “I’d like to know something if it’s possible. But, I try not to get my hopes up.” Cabe declined to name the men, but said he was familiar with one because of a prior arrest record. “One of them had been arrested before,” he said. “It wasn’t for a serious crime, not an assault or anything.” He said he didn’t know the other man. Both men would have been older than Hamby at the time of her disappearance, he added.
The composite drawing was made 19 years ago from information given by a former employee of Glenn’s Tastee Freez in Wilkesboro. Hamby’s Silver Mazda RX7 was found in the restaurant parking lot the morning of Oct. 30, 1982. The drawing is of a man the employee said was in the car with Hamby around noon the previous day. Investigators will look at information on the two men to “check and see if there is any correlation to the case,” Cabe said. Both men are being eyed as individual leads. “As far as I know, they don’t know each other,” he said. Neither had been questioned in relation to the case as of Tuesday, Cabe said. “First you have to determine where these people were at the time this happened,” he said. “They could have ironclad alibis. For instance, they could have been in the military overseas, or they could have been in jail.”
Trying to determine where someone was 19 years ago isn’t easy, Cabe said. “We check the obvious first. That can make or break your lead right away,” he said. “These are difficult leads to check. But it can and will be done.” Sheriff’s deputies are tracking one lead, while SBI agents are working on the other. Cabe wouldn’t elaborate on what information he was waiting to receive from the SBI lab. “I don’t believe I can justify that right now,” he said. As for when he might receive the information, Cabe said, “I anticipate it will be a week or two. They are overwhelmed at the lab sometimes.” Patience is important in a case like this, he added. “You take your time. You have to ask every question. And, you have to ask the right question.”
by Jerry Lankford, Record Editor
Originally published circa 2001
Once you were a friend to Angie Hamby, she never forgot you – and you never forgot her. In the late 1970s, Angie was well-known in the hallways and classrooms at West Wilkes High School. She was a bright, outgoing student. Angie was a member of the varsity cheerleading squad and was captain in 1980, her senior year. She was also a member of the concert choir, Latin Club, Office Practice Staff and the Spirit Club. In 1979, Angie was a finalist for junior attendant to homecoming queen. To her friends, Angie is much more than faded photographs in an old high school annual. Jill Parsons Oakley, Angie’s cousin and classmate, remembers their time at West Wilkes. “We’d always been buddies,” Oakley said. “At times she (Angie) was kind of quiet. She didn’t have as big a mouth as I did,” she added with a laugh. Although Angie was popular, she hung out with a relatively small group. Teresa Miller was a member of that clique. The girls mingled and sat together in the hall before the first period bell sounded. “She was my best friend in high school,” Miller said. “Angie and I had sort of a special bond.” Aside from cheering together, Miller and Angie were also members of some the same clubs. During their free time, they went to movies, out to eat or just visited at each other’s homes. During their senior year, Angie went to the beach with Miller and her parents. “I remembered that she couldn’t swim and she joked about that “, Miller said. “She was always joking and cutting up.” Janet Lael Wood was a classmate with Angie at Union Elementary School and in high school. When they were younger, the girls would dig for rocks coated with gold colored specks in Wood’s backyard. “We’d say we were digging for gold,” Wood said. “She’d take it and show it to her grandma and I’d show it to my mom. They just went along with us.” Wood transferred to Millers Creek Elementary School in the sixth grade, but she and Angie remained close. Both girls attended Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. When they entered the freshman class at West Wilkes in 1976, Angie and Wood became classmates again. The two participated in some of the same activities. “I remember I sang next to her in concert choir,” Wood said. “She just had a real bubbly personality and a kind word for everyone.” And Angie was sincere.
“She never put on a front with anyone,” Wood said. “She was always just Angie.” Oakley, Miller and Wood all recalled learning the news of Angie’s disappearance in October 1982. “It was shock to me,” Wood said. “It just wasn’t like Angie. I thought she’d turn up soon.” When she didn’t, “We knew there was more to it than just Angie disappearing,” Wood said. Life has gone on for the three women. Oakley works in the Clerk of Court’s office in the Wilkes County Courthouse. Miller works across the hall for the Register of Deeds. Wood is a registered nurse at Wilkes Regional Medical Center. It’s hard to say what Angie might be doing today. “I think she would have been working for herself,” Wood said. “She was very independent.” She had talked at times about becoming an airline stewardess, according to family members. The three former classmates are also on the West Wilkes Class of 1980 Reunion Committee. During last year’s 20th reunion, Angie was the topic of many conversations. “She’s always brought up whenever any of our classmates get together,” Wood said. “Whenever we have a class reunion, we always light a candle in memory of Angie.” “But we don’t treat it like she’s deceased,” Miller said. “We just remember the people who are not with us anymore.” Miller, Wood and Oakley say they still think about Angie often. It’s through the strong bond of friendship that her memory remains vivid. “If you were her friend, you were her friend,” Miller said. “That meant a lot to her.” Oakley said she had dreams about Angie for years after her disappearance. “I’d dream she would just walk into the church,” she said. “You know, I still have hope. They never found her. Anything is still possible.” “Angie’s not just a picture on the board at Wal-Mart,” Wood said. “People remember her. It’s good that they do.” Her hope is that Angie’s family finds closure after all these years. “I just pray that somehow they can one day find some peace,” Wood said.
Unknown Title/Unknown date published.
By Jerry Lankford, Record Editor
Wilkesboro Police Detective Tommy Rhodes was with his family this past weekend when he saw a photograph of Angie Hamby in a Record newspaper box.
“I saw that picture and I thought to myself, I’d do anything if I could help that family,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes inherited the case from former Wilkesboro Police Chief Gary Parsons. The cold case file is one that has grown to massive proportions since Hamby disappeared Oct. 29, 1982. With plenty of newer cases to deal with, Rhodes says he’s working on the Hamby file as often as he can.
“Basically what I’m doing, as time permits me, I just clean off my desk and start reading,” Rhodes said. “I’m trying to pick up on different points and learn about everything that’s already been chased down. It’s a very large file. But, it’s a case we would very much like to find closure to.”
Rhodes has recently gone over certain aspects of the case with Retired SBI Agent Steve Cabe, who is now captain over the Detective’s Division of the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department. Cabe was among the first investigators to work on the case.
Angie, who was 20 at the time, had planned to go shopping with her mother, Shirley. The young woman left her home on Pads Road in Millers Creek with intentions of fueling up her silver Mazda RX7, making a bank deposit on Main Street in North Wilkesboro and visiting her sister, Cheryl, at Burke’s Jewelry just up the street from the bank, then heading back home to pick up her mother.
According to Shirley, Angie appears to have stopped at the gas station, and made it to Main Street.
Parsons, in a previous interview with The Record, said he met Angie in traffic on the bypass sometime before 10 a.m. He was headed home after working third shift. He told this to his chief when he was called to return to work about 5 p.m. that day. “I knew the family and I knew Angie good enough to tell who she was,” Parsons said. “There were two girls in town that were named Angie that drove the same kind of cars. I remember looking to see which Angie it was.”
Parsons said the woman was alone in the car and there was “nothing to indicate anything might be wrong.”
Angie didn’t make it to the bank or to her sister’s workplace. Shirley, in an interview with The Record, said that Angie was seen in a clothing store across the street from the bank. “Someone who believed they saw her said she was flipping through the clothes on the racks, but looking out the window like she didn’t want to be seen by somebody.”
After Angie didn’t return home, Shirley didn’t let much time pass before she became worried.
“Angie was the type of person who would always call you and tell you if she was going to be late,” she said.
Jerry Hamby, Angie’s father, had been on a deer hunting trip in South Carolina. He came home that evening after he returned to the hotel and received his wife’s message about Angie being missing. Shirley called police.
Officers from the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department, Wilkesboro Police Department, North Wilkesboro Police Department and State Bureau of Investigation joined in the search.|
Early the next morning Angie’s car was found in the parking lot of Glenn’s Tastee Freeze in Wilkesboro.
Agent Cabe was on the bridge between the Wilkesboros when he heard former Wilkesboro Police Chief Delbert Wilson give an urgent message. The car that Cabe, Wilson and other officers had been looking for had been found. It was around 12:30 a.m.
The agent turned right at the end of the bridge, and headed up Main Street in Wilkesboro. Moments later, as he drove into the parking lot of Glenn’s Tastee Freeze, he saw the sports car. Wilson and Parsons stood nearby.
The driver’s side door of the car was unlocked. Inside was a black purse containing cosmetics, a wallet and other items a young woman might carry. But there was no cash, nor car keys. Perhaps oddest of all, identification cards remained in the purse. These cards matched the registration and license plate of the Mazda. From the time of Angie’s possible sighting at the North Wilkesboro clothing store, an hour and a half passed before she was allegedly spotted at Glenn’s.
An employee at Glenn’s told investigators that she went out the back door to empty trash into the dumpsters and saw the silver Mazda. A man had been in the driver’s seat and a woman in the passenger seat, the woman said. Investigators didn’t get this information until the following Monday, when the woman returned to work. But, the worker said she didn’t get a good look at the woman in the car because the noon sun reflected off the windshield.
“She said it appeared that the man and woman were carrying on a conversation,” Cabe said. And that was all there was. There were no more sightings that could be linked to Angie.
A composite drawing of the man seen in the car was made from the description the woman had given. The drawing depicts a man with shoulder length hair and a short beard.
Angie’s car was towed to the Wilkesboro Police Department on Main Street. Cabe called requesting that the SBI mobile crime unit be sent from the district office in Hickory. An agent arrived with the unit that afternoon. After an initial examination of the vehicle Cabe stopped.
“We decided to try something new,” he said.
During the 1980’s rash of child killings in Atlanta, Ga., investigators were able to link Wayne Williams to some of the crimes by fingerprint evidence found on his car. That was done through a special fingerprinting process called Superglue Fuming. The process involves coating the vehicle in a mist of the glue. The sticky substance makes it easier for investigators to lift prints. During the week following Angie’s disappearance, the Mazda was hauled on a rollback trailer to SBI headquarters in Raleigh where the tests were conducted.
“This was the first time this was done in North Carolina,” Cabe said. “We found evidence inside and outside the car.” Angie’s prints were also needed in order to establish a means of comparison. “We got some items from the family that only she would have touched,” Cabe said. A partial set of prints was found on a lotion bottle, “but, unfortunately, we didn’t obtain all her fingerprints,” he added.
Another phase of the probe involved a multitude of interviews.
Clerks at the gas station where Angie bought her gas were questioned. “They said they recognized the car, but they weren’t positive about Angie,” Cabe said. Family members were asked to tell about Angie’s personal life. Employees at the downtown clothing store and Glenn’s (where she might have been spotted) were also interviewed.
Employees at Northwestern Bank’s Oakwoods offices, where Angie worked, were questioned. Classmates from Wilkes Community College, where Angie went to school, were asked about what they knew. Friends and boyfriends (from Angie’s past until the time of her disappearance) were all questioned as well. No one seemed to know anything.
All the early suspects had failsafe alibis. From there, investigators weren’t sure where to turn. It wouldn’t take long before they had plenty of leads to chase, but they all lead nowhere. Posters of Hamby were plastered on utility poles, bulletin boards and storefronts across the state and across the country. Trucking company owner G.G. Parsons put the photos of the missing woman on the backs of trailers that were hauled nationwide. Truckers driving for Carolina Mirror — where Angie’s father, Jerry, worked — distributed smaller copies of the posters among themselves to tack up in any public place they could.
Soon, phone calls poured in. There were sightings of Angie as far away as California. One couple was so sure that they had seen Angie in a Dallas-Fort Worth area truck stop that former Sheriff Kyle Gentry (now deceased) drove to Texas. He found the couple, then the young woman. “He sat down and talked to that woman,” Cabe said. “It wasn’t Angie. Every lead we had was a dead end. I’ve never had a case where there wasn’t some type of lead that turned out to be something.”
Many reports of sightings were what Cabe classifies as “sympathy calls.” He explained. “People see the posters and they want to help so bad that they call.” He added, “It’s usually real vague information they give you, and they generally say sometime during the conversation, ‘I feel so bad about this,’ or ‘I feel so sorry for that family.’”
Shirley and Jerry have also followed leads to shatteringly disappointing ends. One time, after receiving a phone call, they hopefully followed a trail through a harsh winter storm to Cherryville. Once they got there, however, the address they were given, where Angie was supposed to have been, didn’t exist, Shirley said.
The trail has been cold for decades.
Occasionally, Angie’s description matches information on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Criminal Information Center.
“We will get a hit on Angie Hamby’s entry if a description is even close,” Cabe said, adding that no leads have developed from the data base. “It’s not uncommon to get a hit matching her or any other missing person we have entered.”
Rhodes hopes for the best, although he knows there are no guarantees.
“I think it will take someone coming forth that knows something,” he said. “I can’t foresee finding anything in the file the other investigators didn’t already find. Still the ultimate goal is to solve this case. I really feel that somebody out there knows something and they’re just hanging onto the information.”