When a nine-year-old girl went missing in St. Ann, Missouri in 1993, an entire community feared for their children. Just nine days later, a family’s worst nightmare became a reality when the little girl was found murdered. Detectives and members of the Major Case Squad worked tirelessly to solve the homicide, but justice would not come for little Angie Housman for twenty-five years. This is the case of a little girl lost, the Angie Housman story.
Angela Marie Housman was born on February 18th, 1984, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother Diana Housman married her stepfather Ronald Bone when Angie was just a toddler. Angie became a big sister to Ronald Bone Jr. She was a happy and loving child with an infectious smile. In 1993, Angie was a fourth-grade student at Buder Elementary School in St. Ann, Missouri.
On November 18th, 1993, Angie got off the school bus like she did each afternoon in her neighborhood. Normally, two parents in the community would watch as the kids walked home on that street in St. Ann. However, on this day both parents were busy, and no one was watching the children as they walked home. Angie had to walk eight houses to her home. She made it past the fourth house and then seemed to vanish. Kids in the neighborhood did not recall seeing where Angie went or who she was with. She was just there one minute and gone the next.
When it took more than thirty minutes for Angie to return home after school, her mother and stepfather became concerned. Angie was outgoing and would often stop to chat with neighbors along her way home, but it hadn’t ever taken this long before. They began to search the neighborhood, but there was no sign of Angie. The parents quickly reported their child as missing and an investigate began.
Police initially did not rule anyone out as a person of interest, including Angie’s parents. They interrogated her stepfather, Ron, for a significant amount of time and he even took a polygraph examination. “I told ‘em if they want me to take one, I’ll take one” Ron Bone said in a 1993 interview (Browning & Bell, 1993). The massive ground searches and interrogations of family members and neighbors failed to produce any leads. On November 21st, the FBI joined the search. Despite the missing person case not fitting criteria, for only the second time in history the Major Case Squad was called in to assist in the investigation.
While the massive search ensued, police received hundreds of tips from all over the St. Louis area. An attempted abduction nearby was reported just a week before Angie’s disappearance, but that girl was able to escape. Police were given a description of a suspicious male in the area that had been driving a blue car. A police sketch was produced, but these clues didn’t lead to a suspect or to Angie. Psychics began to produce their own theories and one claimed to dream about the police finding Angie’s body in the August Busch Wildlife Area.
On November 27th, 1993, just nine days after she disappeared, a deer hunter found Angie Housman’s remains in the August Busch Wildlife Area, almost exactly where the psychic said she would be found. Her body was found nude and tied to a tree about thirty feet from the road. Her wrists had been handcuffed. She had duct tape covering her entire face except her nose. Under the duct tape they found a cut piece of her Barbie underwear. The rest of her underwear and clothing was found nearby the body in a Dollar General bag. The missing person case turned into a homicide case.
The autopsy on Angie discovered that the little girl had been brutalized. In the days that she was missing she had been brutally raped, beat, starved, and was severely dehydrated. Her hair had been cut and colored. She had been held for some time before her body was put in the woods. Her autopsy determined that Angie likely died just hours before her body was found and the official cause of death was hypothermia. She froze to death after being left naked and tied to a tree following a week of pure hell. Some forensic clues were retrieved from the examination including a fingerprint on the duct tape that covered her mouth.
Early clues in the investigation included Angie’s teacher giving an alarming statement. She said that Angie told her that her uncle was taking her for a visit of the countryside, but there was no uncle. None of Angie’s friends or classmates knew who this uncle was. Then, four days after Angie’s body was found, another girl disappeared from Hazelwood, Missouri. Hazelwood is about ten miles from St. Ann. Police feared there was a serial predator in the area and these fears intensified when the second girl was found murdered. However, this case was solved in early 1994 and was not connected to Angie's case after all.
The FBI profiled Angie’s killer and described him as a white male aged 20-45, a loner who recently lost his job, and he doesn’t get along well with women. This profile was made public, and thousands of leads came in. In total, 500 men were considered suspects and ruled out as the perpetrator in Angie’s case.
One of those men was a man from Florida named John Wayne Parsons. John Wayne Parsons admitted to molesting two nine-year-old girls in Florida and another young girl in Potosi, Missouri (Bertelson, 1994). When he was arrested in Florida on sex offenses against minors, several newspaper clippings were found on the Angie Housman case. However, the forensics ruled out Parson’s in this case. Another man gave a deathbed confession to the crime, but he was in prison at the time of the murder and was also ruled out.
In 2001, a man named Corey Lynn Fox came forward and claimed to have murdered Angie. He even had some details of the crime that matched. For example, he was able to describe Angie’s Barbie underwear in great detail. Fox also confessed to dozens of other murders, including claiming to have murdered Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan. Only, Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash, and police were able to rule out Corey Fox in most of the crimes he confessed to, including Angie Housman’s murder. Police say that press coverage of the story was too intense when Angie was murdered, so the details of her underwear were likely read in the newspaper.
The years continued to pass by, and Angie’s case remained unsolved. Anyone living in the St. Louis area surely remembers news coverage throughout the years reminding the community that Angie’s murder remained unsolved. Angie gained two more siblings that would never get to know their big sister. In 2016, Angie’s mother tragically passed away from cancer. She passed away before police were able to bring her daughter’s murderer to justice.
In 2018, police in St. Charles County decided to re-evaluate Angie’s case. In 2019, DNA testing was performed on the evidence from the crime. All these years later, DNA testing on Angie’s underwear was analyzed using advanced technology and produced a profile of a male suspect. When the DNA matched a man in federal custody, the detectives were shocked. After twenty-five years, police knew who killed Angie Housman. On March 1st, 2019, police identified Earl Cox as Angie’s killer.
Earl Cox was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1975, he graduated from Jennings High School. After high school, he enrolled in the United States Air Force. In the Air Force, Cox worked as a computer operator and was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1982, Earl Cox was court marshalled for sexually abusing four girls under the age of eleven while stationed in Germany. He was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to eight years at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas. He was paroled in 1985 and returned to the St. Louis area.
In 1989, Earl Cox was arrested in Overland after taking two seven-year-old girls to the movies and a park, which coincidently is right behind Angie’s school. Despite the sexual assault allegations, those charges were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence in 1991. However, his arrest was enough to revoke his parole and he was locked back up at Fort Leavenworth. He was released again from Leavenworth in 1992. Upon his release, he returned to the St. Louis area.
On November 18th, 1993, Earl was driving to his sister’s house, which happened to be near Angie’s bus stop. His car was acting up, so he stopped to look under the hood. He said that he saw the school bus and watched as Angie Housman exited the bus. When Angie walked past, he asked the little girl if she was hungry. Angie said she was cold and hungry and agreed to get in Earl’s truck. He took her to Burger King and bought her food. He then drove around with the girl and eventually took her back to his home.
(Above: The sketch of the suspicious man in the area at the time of Angie's disappearance on the left. Earl Cox in 1993 on the right)
During the time he held Angie, the evidence shows Earl violently sexually assaulted the nine-year-old, beat her, starved her, and deprived her of fluids. After holding Angie for eight days, Earl took her to the Busch Wildlife area and tied her naked body to a tree. He then left her to die in the freezing cold. Earl Cox showed Angie no mercy.
After the murder, Cox resided in Ferguson until 1995. He eventually moved to Colorado where he started a child pornography ring that reached internationally. Users were given access to child sexual abuse material on a “rewards system” in which the more abuse material they shared, the more they would have access to. In 2002, an FBI agent posing as a fourteen-year-old girl made contact with Earl Cox and he sent her money for a train ticket to Colorado. He told her he wanted to “fuck her, spank her, and use her as a sex slave” (Crime and Consequences). He was arrested at the restaurant he told the girl to meet him at.
Upon arresting Cox, the FBI found over 45,000 sexual abuse images of children. They found a plethora of digital evidence implicating Earl Cox as the ringleader of an underground child pornography group. The group was even planning a “teddy bear picnic” for members at a farm in Missouri (Crime and Consequences). Earl Cox was tried in a federal court and sentenced to ten years in prison in 2003. Along with Cox, over sixty men internationally were arrested for their participation in the sexual abuse ring.
In October of 2012, Earl Cox was set to be released from federal custody. However, a judge determined that Earl was a sexually dangerous person and civilly committed him under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (St. Louis Post Dispatch, 2019). Earl remained under civil commitment until 2019, when the DNA evidence linked him to the rape and murder of Angie Housman.
St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar initially planned to seek the death penalty for Angie’s rape and murder. However, if Earl Cox (left) confessed to the crime and told the court about what he did to Angie, they agreed to take the death penalty off the table. In August of 2020, Earl Cox was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for his crimes. Angie finally got justice, twenty-seven years later. In March of 2021, Cox plead guilty to sodomy of another young girl and received additional time. Earl Cox will die behind the prison walls in Missouri. He is currently sixty-four years old and is housed at Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Missouri.
Angie’s case came during a time when “stranger danger” was a prevalent phrase among children and many other high profile child abductions were being reported. Throughout the years since her 1993 death, many laws have been passed to protect the safety of children in our nation. The sex offender registry, civil commitment of sexual abusers, and amber alert systems are just a few. Had these tools been in place in 1993, perhaps Angie would be alive today or at the very least, her mother could have seen justice served before her own death.
On The Case with Paula Zahn (2021) Justice for Angie; Season 23 Episode 7; Available on Discovery+
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