In my puny mind, it stands to reason that if law enforcement officers and other officials call with questions, claiming they “need more information…to help put names to faces”, they must have faces that indeed need names. Right? Alongside this, doesn’t it just make sense that if an officer calls you repeatedly with questions, he is asking for some assistance?
So why, pray tell, did Lt. Merriman get so angry at me when I served up the “help” he said they needed?
I have the utmost respect for law enforcement everywhere. The recent accounts of senseless abuses of our police forces by the public and politics causes an inescapable rage within me. Equally as enraging is when any officer of the law abuses his position, whether by action or neglect of duty.
But I was patient. For well over a decade I have been patient with KSP (Kentucky State Police). Admittedly, the patience was in part due to fear. Lt. Merriman did “warn” me that he could do whatever he wanted with “his murder investigation”, emphatic about, “I can close it at any time. I can make it like it never happened.” And that was after he finally let me speak with Det. Owens briefly. While I attempted to reason with Merriman about the likelihood of at least one of their “faces” being Angelique James, he put Owens on the phone. Obviously, this was a vain attempt by them to get me to stop seeking protection and justice for the victims–both dead and, more importantly, alive. Owens simply told me that “not enough was found to substantiate a homicide.” He too became quite irritated when I asked, “Enough what? Body parts? Elements of the crime? Evidence to connect the suspects to the victims? What?” Owens refused to answer, except to repeat himself.
“Not enough was found to substantiate a homicide.”
And he let me know that I “need to stop pushing this.” Both failed to explain to me why. To this day, neither of them nor anyone in KSP–or the entire state of KY–has given a clear explanation as to why this case was dropped and buried so quickly. Buried in spite of the evidence. Furthermore, no effort on their part was made to fulfill Det. Monte Owens’ promise to Jack–that he “would see to it (they) will be protected.”
In fact, the only promise kept by these KSP officers was that the case disappeared. Just like Merriman stated in early 2004:
“I can make it like it never happened.”
In 2013, shortly after Jack’s younger sister turned 18, I sent a letter to Lt. Merriman. He told the mother years before, “Just let me know when your domestic issues are over. I have all the time in the world to finish my murder investigation.” So, I let him know the “domestic issues” were no longer an issue and asked him to follow through on the investigation.
Just the same as all the years before, no response.
In late 2015 I wrote a request under the Freedom of Information Act to KSP Records. That sham took another year to resolve. They claimed that no record of any such investigation exists. I sent the a photo of the witness standing with two of the KSP detectives at the burial spot Jack located for them. Still, even after appealing the decision, according to KY records there was no investigation. Granted, the AG’s office did state that they cannot produce records that do not exist (according to KSP) and they did make note that it is reasonable that I would believe there would be such records.
The only logical explanation?
Lt. Mark Merriman did as he promised. He made it go away.
I will never forget the timeless advice of an integral, seasoned officer when I asked him how to get law enforcement to do their damn jobs. He told me:
“Write it up like a Dick and Jane story, attach all the evidence.”
So that’s what I did. Over the years since discovering Angelique James and, especially since Merriman dropped the ball…. Wait. No. He did not drop the proverbial ball. He popped it! Then buried it all. How callous.
Anyway… Over these years, not only have I discovered evidence linking the named suspects to the area Angelique went missing, evidence of more missing children linked to this same group of suspects emerged rapidly. But we’ll get to that later. More pertinent at this moment is to retrace the steps, along with the evidence collected, that support the likelihood that Angelique James is at least one of the victims KSP has “parts” of.
In the last article, Two Years of Wonder, I touched on a few points connecting this beautiful child, Angelique, to one of the “faces” Merriman claimed he “needs names” for. That included a more detailed description from two of the witnesses, which fit exactly that of Angelique James. So, let’s get into the rest of the facts.
Here is a starting outline of the evidence discovered after I really began to dig into this work:
2003–After being entirely blown off by KSP, I drew up a profile of one of the victims, the named suspects, and geographical profiles of places they lived and worked. After running the victim profile in NCMEC, I narrowed the results of missing children to those who went missing within 30 minutes of a thoroughbred racetrack that was open for racing or training during the time the child went missing. From that, I discovered multiple cases of missing children (who fit the profile), as well as probable locations where other evidence (remains) may be found.
2004–Spoke with a Los Angeles County Sheriff detective (I promised I would never give out her name) about the case of Angelique. This detective recalled the case clearly and likened it to the Rilya Wilson (missing from FL 2001) case, stating, “Sound familiar?” In the end, Angelique’s mother, Shirley Ann James, was charged with Angelique’s murder and child endangerment. Most informational sites claim that Shirley was convicted of her murder. This is not true, according to this detective. In 1998 Shirley was convicted only on child endangerment because she took a plea and Angelique’s body was never recovered. This Los Angeles County detective expressed her disgust at how “grossly mishandled” Angelique’s case was, and that only the mother was investigated for the child’s disappearance.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Detective stated Angelique’s case was
Late 2004 to early 2005–Being that the named suspects all worked in some capacity with thoroughbred (TB) racehorses, I wrote to area TB tracks inquiring about archived racing programs. Here is one program that places one of the suspects in the area Angelique went missing during the very week she went missing.
One of the suspects, at the time he resided at the Crab Orchard, KY farm, bragged to me in December 1996 about freelancing as a groom for Lucas (TB trainer).
- The suspected stated he was to California and New York recently with Lucas.
- The suspect stated he was on his way again to California after the holidays, with Lucas.
- Later (early 1997), he mentioned again that he was “just in California with Lucas.”
- On top of that, there are two old addresses in Los Angeles listed for two of the named suspects that are right in the area Angelique went missing.
After sharing this vital information with KSP and again getting nothing but yelled at, I wrote an email to KSP, the KY Attorney General’s office, and a few others that needed to know. This is the only response I received:
[Recall that in 2015, I was told that there was never any “investigation”.]
Besides that, it was at this point that I was done being patient. Clearly, I had a name that fit impeccably at least one of the faces KSP said they had. I had information that put at least one of the suspects in the area at the time the child went missing. What’s more is I had several other cases and evidence that so closely resembled this one, it would give even a seasoned investigator chills.
So I kept pressing forward…. (More to come.)