BY SHERRI ZICKEFOOSE
Special to the Red Deer Express
The following is part one of a two-part series about a Central Alberta man who disappeared 13 years ago. His parents, who live in Delburne, continue to search for answers in the case. Part two will run Jan. 22.
It’s been 13 years since Calgary truck driver Trevor Angell vanished near Las Vegas, Nev.
There are no leads and no answers. But there are plenty of theories — none of which are easing the heartache felt by his parents Pat and Jim Angell.
“It somehow gets worse every year,” said his mother Pat, 66.
Time is marching on and the grim realization has long settled in that the Delburne couple will never know what happened to their 28-year-old son.
Whether Trevor met with foul play, committed suicide, suffered a mental breakdown or simply started living a secret life are all possibilities. The agony comes from not knowing.
The search for her missing son lured Pat from her home in the heart of Central Alberta’s parkland to the sun-baked flats of the Mojave Desert.
“I feel like from Day 1 I’m never going to solve this. It’s going to take a miracle,” she said.
“I still want him to walk back. I want everyone who said he was dead to be proven wrong.”
Not long after Trevor disappeared in the fall of 2000, Pat bought her missing son a dog. It was a coping mechanism aimed at soothing the couple’s grief and worry. She named him Dude.
The black Labrador retriever has been waiting for the return of a master he never met.
Before Trevor went missing, there were obvious warning signs that all was not right. He followed in his parents’ footsteps working as a long haul trucker. Pat knows her son was stressed and feeling burned out from a trucker’s life. At its most extreme, road burn — in trucker’s parlance — is dangerous. Loneliness, fatigue and deadline pressure can push drivers over the edge emotionally.
Trevor, married to his teenage sweetheart Teresa and a father to their two-year-old son, said he was going to quit his job.
Trevor’s head was easily turned by schemes to make quick, easy money, his wife remembers. He didn’t make the best choices and had friends she considered shady.
Trevor and his wife put their Calgary house up for sale. They had leased an apartment in Cold Lake, a six-hour drive north of the city, near the Saskatchewan border. Trevor was hoping for an easier life — one where he could enjoy time with his wife and child every night.
He had been seeing a psychologist hired by the Calgary long-haul trucking company he worked for, according to Pat.
“He didn’t know what he wanted to do. He was trying to sort out his life.”
But Trevor was also hinting at something darker.
“He was starting to say things like, ‘I need a bodyguard.’ ”
Trevor liked to drink and he liked to gamble. He didn’t always keep in touch. Pat wasn’t worried enough to meddle.
In September 2000, Trevor said an upcoming cargo haul near Los Angeles was going to be his last.
He’d made the 5,000-kilometre round trip many times before. It’s a long drive from Alberta to L.A., about 25 hours.
Pat suspects her son would have flaunted the rules, pushing to make the drive without many, if any, stops.
On Sept. 19, Trevor left a meat-packing plant in Brooks, around noon delivering a load of beef to Los Angeles. There, his truck was reloaded for Calgary. He was carrying a trailer full of bananas.
The bright spot in the return trip was a stop at Trevor’s favourite haunt just three hours away near Las Vegas.
With its three casinos located just over the California state line, Primm, Nev., is a playground for impatient gamblers headed to Las Vegas down the interstate, or as the last chance for luck before leaving Nevada.
Whiskey Pete’s hotel and casino was a welcome sight for Trevor, who parked his eighteen-wheeler near the others, baking in the desert sun.
Records show Trevor fuelled his rig in Primm on Sept. 22.
A dispatcher was among the last known to talk to Trevor that morning around 10 a.m.
Trevor had also talked to his wife, saying he hadn’t slept in four days. She urged him to come home. Just one more delivery after this, and he was quitting for good, Trevor told her.
It wasn’t long after that Pat and Jim received a worried call. Trevor wasn’t answering calls from the trucking company. GPS revealed his rig remained in Primm.
The company reported Trevor missing.
Three days later, the company’s truckers found the semi-truck and trailer parked in the casino lot among the others. The load was intact, but the refrigerator was out of fuel. Trevor’s wallet, which had no cash, was safe inside the cab.
There were no easy answers. Feeling frustrated and helpless, Pat travelled to Vegas to find her missing son. Teresa joined her. Primm’s casinos are linked by monorail. He’s probably riding the tram and trying his luck at Buffalo Bill’s or Primm Valley Resort, they figured.
“We thought it would be simple, he’d be gambling and he’d be broke and we’d find him.”
With files from Clara Ho, Calgary Herald