The disappearance of Angela Hammond, 20 has tormented Rob Shafer for nearly three decades. In April 1991 Shafer was a high school senior engaged to the beautiful Angie Hammond. She was four months pregnant and they were both looking forward to their life together. Both the Shafer’s and the Hammond’s families were eagerly awaiting the marriage and the birth of the new grandbaby. Life was going to be great.
Reality struck hard, however, on the night of April 4, 1991. Angie and Rob spent the evening at a BBQ before Rob had to return home to babysit his younger brother. The couple planned on meeting up again later. Angie promised she would call in an hour and left Rob on his doorstep. Back in the day before cell phones, Angie would call her fiancé from a local payphone. Today with all the crime shows on TV, no woman in her right mind would be alone at 11 pm talking on a payphone, but things were different in the rural town of Clinton, Missouri.
The entire community population was less than 8,000 people. Most were farmers, factory workers, or owned a small local business. Teenagers would cruise around the town square for fun and hang out in the parking lots of the local grocery store. The police station was only two blocks away and violent crime was unheard of. This naïve environment would be shattered before Angie and Rob’s phone call was completed.
Standing in the grocery store parking lot, the 20-yr-old Angie was chatting with her fiancé. She mentioned to Rob that a strange truck kept circling around the square. It was a late 60’s early 70’s model Ford F-150. Being a native of Clinton, she knew most of the vehicles that usually cruised the square. Neither caller thought much about it and their conversation continued. Angie stated that she was getting tired and decided to go on home instead of waiting around for Rob. Moments later Angie described the strange man that emerged from the two-toned truck. She said he was a dirty looking old white guy with a white beard and mustache. He had used the phone next to her and then returned to his truck, but he didn’t leave. This made Angie nervous. Suddenly the man returned, and Rob hears Angie scream. Dropping the phone in a panic, Rob runs out to his car and barrels down the road the seven blocks to the payphone. As he approaches the scene the old Ford pickup passes him on the road. Angie screams “Robbie” and Rob shoves his car into reverse and spins around in the road to give chase.
The hero saves the girl, beats down the bad guy, the police come and arrest the kidnapper, and everyone lives happily ever after, right? No. Reality is grim, and those sudden spins you see cars do in the movies are not real. When poor Robbie slammed his car into reverse and spun, it also destroyed the car’s transmission. The older model car gave chase for about two miles but died in the middle of the street. Robert Shafer was left to watch the truck disappear down the dark rural lane. Helpless and alone he made his way back to the police station to report what happened.
It is here that Rob discovered the sad truth about an inexperienced police department. With the low crime rate, the police had little experience dealing with violent crime. This would stall the process, but the case went forward. Of course, Rob was the first suspect, but after a week-long investigation, he was cleared. They ran checks on all the trucks in the area that might fit the description, but that too came to no conclusion. Rob was able to add to the truck’s description the fact that it had a window decal covering the back glass. The decal was of a fish jumping out of the water. Still, with this added info the truck seemed to vanish into the night.
Rob gave details to the police sketch artist about the truck’s driver. This is where details seem to differ from Angie’s description over the phone. This discrepancy caused some people to look narrowly at Rob, but investigators came to a different conclusion. Below is pictured the composite sketch of the driver as remembered by Rob.
You can clearly see that this man does not have a white beard and mustache. I would argue that the facial hair was fake. I will give you my theories later.
Almost immediately after Rob Shafer was ruled out as a suspect, the officials began to try to link this disappearance with two other missing women from Missouri. One woman was Trudy Darby from Macks Creek, Missouri. Darby worked at a local convenience store. On January 19, 1991, she had been robbed, kidnapped, and murdered. Her body was discovered two days later.
The second woman was Cheryl Ann Kenney. Like Darby, Kenney was robbed, kidnapped, and presumed murdered, but her body hasn’t been found as of this writing. Kenney was kidnapped from Nevada, Missouri.
Now it’s time for a geography lesson. It is 69 miles from Clinton, MO to Macks Creek, and 74 miles from Clinton to Nevada, MO. If you were to plot out a giant triangle on a Missouri roadmap the final side would be 83 miles from Macks Creek to Clinton. Although these aren’t great distances to travel, the way in which these crimes took place it makes me think they are not connected.
Two years later the case of Trudy Darby was solved. Two brothers, Jesse Rush and Marvin Chaney confessed to robbing, raping, and murdering Darby. After intense investigations, they never found any links between Angie Hammond and the brothers.
So who could have taken Angie Hammond from the phone booth that night in Clinton, Missouri? Some wondered if a serial killer was on the loose in rural Missouri. Although these cases weren’t necessarily related there was indeed a serial killer hiding out only 70 miles up the interstate. This brutal slayer of women was wanted by Texas authorities and was flying under the radar by using the alias of Richard Fowler. His name was Kenneth McDuff. This serial killer was featured on America’s Most Wanted in April 1992. He was recognized by a coworker and arrested on May 4, 1992. Some say that McDuff was responsible for many more victims than he was given credit for. Others wonder if those reports are inflated. Below is a mugshot of McDuff.
Could this be the man behind the disappearance of Angela Hammond? There’s a good possibility. He was in the area. He had a habit of picking random women and brutally killing them. And if you look at the specific details of the composite sketch you will find eerie similarities.
Ok now, look at the individual characteristics of the face. Look at the bridge of the nose. Notice the small indention? It is visible in both photos. Notice the marking under the left eye and the dark brows. What do you think? Could this be the man behind Hammond’s disappearance? Could he have worn a fake beard and during the struggle to get Angela into his truck it came off somehow?
I would like to see investigators check out his alias, Richard Fowler to see if he owned a pickup like the one witnesses seen in Clinton, MO. We may never know for sure. McDuff was executed for his heinous crimes on November 17, 1998. If Hammond’s body could be found and DNA extracted then there might be a chance of tying it back to him, but after nearly three decades finding the DNA of a killer on the bones of a victim might be impossible.
As with every case I highlight, if you have any information on the disappearance of Angela Hammond please contact the Clinton Police Department at (600) 885-2679.