Man charged with 1993 murder of 9-year-old schoolgirl

Man charged with 1993 murder of 9-year-old schoolgirl

Nothing gets internet sleuths going like an unsolved murder. The ability to band together, share theories and link evidence has made forums like Reddit’s /r/UnsolvedMysteries a force to be reckoned with. However, it was the friends, family and neighbours of a murdered Missouri schoolgirl who kept her case alive.

Angie Housman disappeared on her way home from school on 18 November 1993. There was less than a block between the bus stop and her mother’s St. Ann duplex. An extensive search turned up no results however, nine days later, a deer hunter discovered her naked body in St. Charles County’s August A. Busch wildlife area.

She was partially covered in snow but it was soon clear that she was bound to a tree, with her arms cuffed behind her, and had duct tape covering head apart from her nose. The hallmarks of a horrific murder, her autopsy revealed even more disturbing details.

Angie had visible lacerations on her wrists, a portion of her underwear in her mouth and further pieces in a Dollar General Store bag nearby. Medical experts believed she had been tortured and raped but concluded that she eventually died of hypothermia. A sleepy St. Louis suburb, the community was shaken. Investigators did all they could to find a suspect but the case eventually went cold.

However, yesterday, disgraced US airman Earl Webster Cox was charged with the first-degree murder, sodomy and kidnapping of Angie Housman. The 61-year-old is a convicted child molester and may have had an accomplice.

"We have reason to believe that Earl W. Cox was not the only suspect involved in this case," St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Lohmar told reporters. St. Charles Lieutenant Ed Copeland explained, via a probable cause statement, that DNA taken from the lining of Housman's Barbie underpants matched Cox’s.

For 25 years, a group called Angie’s Angels has campaigned to keep the case open. Led by Angie’s mother, they persuaded investigators to use the latest techniques to carry on searching. “They were looking for a needle in a haystack without a magnifying glass, but they still found the needle," Lohmar said of the investigation.

Cox, who had been a computer operator in the Air Force, was 36 years old at the time of the abduction. He went relatively quiet for the next decade or so but later helped run a global child porn ring from Colorado Springs.

“Shadowz Brotherhood” operated on a rewards system whereby the more you contributed, the more content you were allowed to see. Moderating the "Panty Raiders/Lolita Lovers" group, he was caught by an FBI agent in 2003 who was posing as a 14-year-old girl named “Brenda”.

"Using the screen name 'Youngstuff,' Cox told 'Brenda' that he wanted to f*ck her and spank her," court documents state. "Cox sent 'Brenda' emails encouraging her to leave her home in Virginia and come to Colorado to be his 'sex slave.'" He sent the decoy $60 for a bus ticket and requested that she arrive in a short skirt, red tube top and no underwear.

FBI agents arrested Cox at the restaurant where the two had agreed to meet. His computer played host to 45,000 pictures and videos of child porn. Investigators also unearthed evidence to suggest that he was planning to attend a "Teddy Bear Picnic" with other members of the Brotherhood.

But Cox already had a record when Angie was abducted. Eleven months prior, he had been released from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. According to court documents, he had been court-martialed and dishonourably discharged from the military after he sexually abused four young girls he was supposed to be babysitting while stationed in Germany.

Additionally, he had been accused in 1989 of sexually abusing a pair of young girls who he took to a movie and then to a park. He was also questioned about touching a child in 1991. As a result of the incidents, Cox was found to have violated the conditions of his parole and consequently served another year in Leavenworth Penitentiary. Nonetheless, he still served a reduced sentence. Had he served his eight-year sentence, he might never have crossed paths with Angie.

Upon his release, he returned to St Louis, with public records stating his address was Wismer Road in St. Ann. This was his parents’ address, which was around one quarter of a mile from the bus stop where Angie was last seen on 18 November 1993.

Cox was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to entice a minor. He was due to be released in 2011. However, two months prior, a psychological analysis of his criminal history determined that he was a “sexually dangerous” individual and he therefore remains incarcerated indefinitely.

Whether Cox will be found guilty remains to be seen however, with DNA evidence linking him to such a key piece of evidence, it seems likely that the authorities have finally found their man. One can only hope that this will give at least some comfort to the friends and family who knew Angie before she was taken from them.

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