“Seek, and you shall find”
Marianne Asher-Chapman depends on that. She has been searching for her daughter Angie Yarnell for nearly 15 years. She carries a shovel in the trunk of her car, so she is ready to dig at a moment’s notice. Why would this poor mother still be searching after a man has confessed to killing Angie Yarnell? Why is the killer out of jail? How could our justice system fail so miserably? This is the story of a mother’s quest to find her daughter and help others who are suffering through a tragedy.
Michelle Angela “Angie” Yarnell was last seen on October 25, 2003, in the 3900 block of Ozark View Rd in Ivy Bend, Missouri. Her mother, Marianne Asher-Chapman lived an hour and a half away in Holts Summit, MO. Although they were separated by a 90 min drive the two women were more than family; they were best friends. Marianne heard from her daughter regularly and was expecting to see her beautiful baby girl that day for a birthday party. Angie’s niece was having a party at grandma Marianne’s house. The party was scheduled for 1 pm, but it was after 5 o’clock and Marianne was getting upset. This wasn’t like Angie. Something was wrong. Marianne hadn’t gotten Angie to answer her calls for a few days. She had assumed Angie was out job hunting and would call later, but now after missing a birthday party, Marianne was worried. She called her daughter’s number again, but this time she left a message that would start a bizarre chain of events.
“If you don’t call back, I’m going to drive down and check on you,” was the message the worried mother left on Angie’s voicemail. She would receive a response two hours later, but it wasn’t the one she hoped for. Around 7 pm, Angie’s car pulled up in the driveway and out stepped Michael Yarnell. When Marianne asked about her daughter, he simply replied, “she’s gone.” The man walked in and sat down without saying much of anything. Finally, he told Marianne that he thought Angie had run off with another man. No one believed his story, but no one challenged him either.
Marianne couldn’t believe her daughter would leave without telling her something about this new man, and to make matters even worse, Marianne was battling throat cancer at the time. Angie was helping her mother through this journey. Why would a beloved daughter leave her mother in such a state? Angie wouldn’t. That was the conclusion her family came up with. Something was terribly wrong. Marianne went the next day and filed a missing persons report expecting to find compassion and assistance but found very little.
Initially, the investigators believed that the 28-yr-old was frustrated with her verbally abusive marriage and took off. No one seemed to understand the bond between mother and daughter in this case. Angie had spoken to her mother about the problems with her short marriage to Yarnell. She had been wrongly accused of infidelity by Michael when in fact Michael was having an extra-marital affair. The relationship had broken down to the point that Angie confessed to her mother that Michael was going to leave her. Marianne had this conversation with her daughter several days before Michael’s strange visit.
A week after the missing person’s report was filed, Marianne received a postcard from her daughter. It was posted from Arkansas. Strangely it said Angie was traveling with some guy named Gary and when they got settled in Texas she would call. Investigators immediately took the postcard at face value and stopped looking into the case, but Marianne still had her doubts. Why didn’t her daughter call?
Marianne eagerly awaits the Thanksgiving holiday. Surely her daughter would come by, but Angie didn’t show. After this, Marianne knew Angie wasn’t coming home. She wouldn’t miss the holidays with family. It was a long-standing tradition. Marianne began to examine the postcard and noticed some strange discrepancies in the handwriting. In 2008, a forensic handwriting specialist would confirm that not only did Angie not write the note but that Michael Yarnell was the author of the postcard. They sent these findings to the detectives in hopes of getting the ball rolling on Angie’s case.
A few months later Michael Yarnell was arrested in Biloxi, Mississippi and extradited back to the Show-Me state. He surprised everyone by confessing to killing Angie at their home in 2003. He told investigators that they were having a fight and he accidentally pushed her, and she fell off the deck hitting her head. He said that he sat with her for a while trying to figure out what to do, then he picked her up into a canoe and drove down the road to the boat ramp. He rowed out onto the Lake of the Ozarks and found a small island. He said he planned to bury her on the island. In the process of removing her body from the boat, she slipped and fell beneath the waves. He left her there, rowed back to the boat ramp, and went home.
Yarnell also admitted to forging the postcard and claimed he did it just to give Marianne some peace. In the end, he was given a plea deal that no one could believe. If he would show investigators where the body was dropped in the water, then he could plead to a lesser charge of manslaughter. Even though the investigators couldn’t find Angie’s remains, they still gave her killer the plea deal. Michael Shane Yarnell pled guilty of manslaughter and was given a paltry seven years. He served only four and was released in July of 2013.
To say the family was devastated doesn’t begin to describe the disbelief and the pain caused by such a sentence. It’s a slap in the face to the victim’s family for the killer to walk free. Still, no one knows where to find Angie. Marianne believes Michael is lying about her daughter’s cause of death and that’s the reason why he refuses to disclose the true location of Angie’s remains.
Due to Double Jeopardy laws, Michael Yarnell won’t face another trial even if those remains are found. At this point, Marianne just wants to give her daughter a proper burial. As always, if you have any information about this case, please contact the police. This mother needs to lay her daughter to rest.
In the wake of this painful journey, Marianne has co-founded Missouri Missing. Missouri Missing is a non-profit organization to help support victim’s families and to raise awareness about Missouri’s missing people. Check out their website for more information. Like and share their missing person’s flyers on Facebook and donate if you can.