Still looking for Angie
It’s been 25 years since her mysterious disappearance
By JERRY LANKFORD
It’s been nearly 25 years since Angie Hamby disappeared.
Despite the passage of time, “It doesn’t get any easier,” said her father, Jerry Hamby.
Angie vanished on Oct. 29, 1982.
Today, lawmen seem no closer to solving the mystery than they were a quarter of a century ago.
“I would love to have one absolute positive lead, but we, to my knowledge have never had a specific lead that we were able to keep going for any length of time,” said retired State Bureau of Investigation Agent Steve Cabe.
Cabe, now captain over the detectives’ division of the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department, along with other deputies, and officers from both Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro police departments, have spent countless hours on the case.
The investigation is in Wilkesboro Police Department’s jurisdiction since the last trace of Angie – her silver sports car – was found there in a restaurant parking lot. The case is being reviewed by Wilkesboro Police Det. Tommy Rhodes.
Cabe, who has consulted with Rhodes on the case, said cold case files take a while to digest.
“You have to read through it sentence by sentence. And, this file is massive,” Cabe said. “But I’m enthusiastic to have a fresh set of eyes looking at it. This could offer a new perspective to the investigation.”
After 25 years, nothing, not a trace of the young woman has ever been found. Theories and suspects have arisen, but those have all been either discounted or cleared. “The leads just dried up,” Cabe said.
Still, “Someone out there knows what happened,” said Angie’s mother, Shirley, in a previous interview with The Record.
“I just want to know what happened,” said Jerry during a Monday interview with The Record. “Good or bad, I want to know, although I can’t imagine how it would be good.”
Angela Gray Hamby, known by Angie to her family and friends, disappeared on a sunny autumn day. She was 20 at the time and had taken that Friday off from her second-shift job at the then Northwestern Bank’s data processing department on Oakwoods Road.
She had worked for the bank before she graduated from West Wilkes High School in 1980. Afterward, she had enrolled in classes at Wilkes Community College and hoped to transfer to Appalachian State University. Between work and school, the young woman stayed busy and probably looked forward to the off time.
Shirley had also taken the day off from her job at Benson & Blevins. The two had planned an out-of-town shopping trip.
Angie had dressed in jeans, a scallop-necked sweater and sandals with socks. She wore a gold add-a-bead chain around her neck. On a finger was a new diamond and sapphire ring she had bought at Burke’s Jewelry, where her sister, Cheryl, worked on Main Street in North Wilkesboro.
Family members retraced what they believed where her last known activities.
Before the trip, Angie had planned to run some errands. Her silver 1980 model Mazda RX7 was nearly empty on gas, so she first planned to stop and buy fuel, likely at the Wilco on U.S. 421 West. She also needed to make a car payment. Since she and her mother used the same bank — NCNB (now the location of North Wilkesboro Town Hall) — Shirley asked her make a deposit for her. After that, Angie planned to deliver a message to her sister just up the street from the bank, then drive back home to leave for the shopping trip.
Angie had left home around 9:30 a.m. “I told her to hurry back and that I’d be waiting,” Shirley said. The Hambys live on Pads Road; therefore Angie would have likely cut across on Dancy Road and then onto 421 to get gas. From there she would have taken the bypass into Downtown North Wilkesboro.
Former Wilkesboro Police Chief Gary Parsons (who was a patrol sergeant in 1982) told the family that he spotted Angie in her silver sports car a short while later near Winn Dixie.
During this time, Shirley had gotten ready to leave. She hadn’t expected Angie’s trip to take long. But as the morning slipped away, she started to worry.
“By 12 o’clock, I was really upset,” Shirley said. “I just had a bad feeling. I called the bank and they said she hadn’t been there yet. Then I called Cheryl and she hadn’t seen her, either. I knew something was wrong then.”
Shirley left to go looking for her daughter. She searched Downtown North Wilkesboro, but there was no sign of Angie.
“I thought maybe she had met some of her friends and started talking,” Shirley said. “But for her not to come back when she was supposed to, that was totally out of character for her. She was always dependable. She would always call me and let me know.”
Afternoon faded to evening, and still there was no word from Angie.
Her father, Jerry, had taken a vacation from his job at Carolina Mirror to go deer hunting in South Carolina. He found a message waiting for him when he returned to the motel just after dark. After a phone call home, “I cut out right then,” he said.
In the meantime, Shirley waited and worried. Around 1 a.m., she received a call from the Wilkesboro Police Department. Angie’s car had been found in the parking lot of Glenn’s Tastee Freez. When Shirley arrived at the restaurant and looked at the car, things seemed odd right away. The doors were unlocked, and the car was parked near the rear of the building beside some dumpsters.
Strangest of all, Angie’s pocketbook was still in the vehicle. Inside the purse were personal items, including her driver’s license. But, no money was found. The keys to the car were also gone. A group of officers stood around the car.
Cabe was among those officers.
He would come to know the Hamby family well over the next weeks, months and years.