HOLDING ONTO HOPE - Trevor Angell was 28 at the time of his disappearance from Primm

Mystery of 13-year disappearance haunts local family

Trevor Angell’s family heads to Nevada to continue search

  • Jan. 22, 2014 8:53 p.m.



Special to the Red Deer Express

The following is part two 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. Last week’s story left off with Trevor’s family arriving in Nevada to search for him.

In Primm, Nevada, records show that Trevor’s debit card was used nine times to make withdrawals until 4 a.m. Sept. 23, 2000. Teresa learned that his paycheque had been drained from their account.

Pat and Jim knew Primm well — as truckers themselves they’d stayed at the large roadside casino and hotel.

The busy gambling town is a friendly one. But back in 1987, a seven-year-old boy was found murdered after vanishing from Whiskey Pete’s video arcade. The body of Alexander Harris was discovered under a trailer one month later. He had been strangled.

Pat started her search at the casino’s cafe. Susanna, a waitress, remembered serving Trevor. She was off the day he went missing. But another waitress recalled Trevor stopping in Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. He’d ordered oatmeal. He paid and tipped with pocket change.

Somebody said Trevor looked sick, bent over and holding his stomach. He’d been seen lying in the parking lot, asking for help. He seemed disoriented.

They called hospitals and clinics. Pat even called the Salvation Army to see if her son had sought shelter there. No one had seen him.

In the cafe, Pat sat across a table from Susanna, holding her hands.

“Do you think he’d dead?” the waitress asked.

“No, but maybe close to it,” Pat told her.

They piled into a rental car and searched near the dam. At night they followed rough roads toward the lights from drilling sites. They called out his name, their voices carrying across the sand.

“We did scary things, we were told we’d get shot because there are diamond mines out there,” she said. “You’d do anything when you’re looking for someone.”

A private detective agency ad in the local newspaper caught Pat’s eye. The young man they sent spoke with the truckers who had come to pick up Trevor’s rig.

When Pat asked Trevor’s company for information, they said it was now a family matter. The company’s dispatcher told Pat she believed Trevor had a gambling problem.

“It always seems like we run up against brick walls.”

On Oct. 4, Pat and Jim flew home. After draining days of talking to strangers and searching a desert notorious for swallowing secrets, they had no answers.

The detective agency followed up with a phone call. A monsoon was expected to hit Las Vegas any day. That meant flash floods. Bodies wash up.

“Now we can help you,” the investigator said.

Pat thought about the young man she remembered as barely helpful, armed with flyers, and the $700 she’d already paid.

“I told him we’ve paid you all we’re going to pay you.”

Both Pat and Trevor’s wife hoped for updates from police.

“I did everything I could. I kept writing and phoning people. It just fizzles right out.”

But except for Trevor’s case airing on the television show America’s Most Wanted in 2005, the search hit a dead end. Rumours of sightings never panned out. Psychics’ tips placed Trevor anywhere from Leduc to the beaches of Acapulco.

“I’ve had people ask what’s worse: the death or the missing? The missing is a little easier because you have hope. If you have no hope it’s the hardest,” she said.

The cold case remains open, but police remain doubtful it will be resolved any time soon.

“It’s not going anywhere,” said Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Det. Dan Holley.

“I think Trevor Angell is still out there. I don’t think he’s in distress or someplace where he can’t defend himself or speak for himself. I think it’s his choice to fall off the earth in America,” he said.

“I suspect he’s still out there somewhere walking and talking, just for whatever reason, not interested in talking to his family. We get a lot of that. I’m sure everybody does.

“I don’t have any evidence to show that. But when you do this enough, you get a pretty good feel of how people behave.”

Holley, a 30-year veteran, says a U.S. national DNA database holds 40,000 sets of unidentified human remains. About 4,000 bodies and bones are discovered each year.

“His DNA is in our national database, which is illegal to do here in America, but we’ve got a way we can work around it. We have a lot of Canadian citizens whose DNA is in our national database.”

A strange feeling washes over Pat now and again. Once, while driving her rig through North Dakota in the 1990s, another trucker in the passing lane slowed to smile and wave. It was Trevor.

Pat is holding out hope that Trevor will surprise her again.

“He should appear. When he was a teenager, it didn’t matter what time dinner was, he’d walk in the door just in time. Now it’s 13 years, and not a peep. It drives me crazy sometimes.”

The disappearance also took its toll on Teresa, who searched desperately for her missing husband with Pat. After a year, she applied for a divorce and moved away to raise their son.

She has since remarried, and her husband legally adopted Trevor’s son. They have a wonderfully close relationship, Teresa said.

“Trevor was my first love. He’ll always have a special place in my heart,” said Teresa, who still lives in Calgary.

“I just got to that point where I knew my son deserved a normal life.”

The 15-year-old boy proudly has his learner’s license and aims to become a firefighter, she said.

Amid all the changes to her life, Teresa has kept the same cellphone number all these years, hoping Trevor or a tipster who saw the missing person posters will call.

“I’ve never changed it. I don’t ever want to be blamed for not getting the information. I’d never be able to live with that.”

Pat and Jim are estranged from their grandson, who they haven’t seen since he was three. Pat was startled by what she saw in a recent photograph.

“He bears quite a resemblance. He has the same kind of smile. He has the same eyebrows and the same build.”

Recently, the dog Pat bought for her son’s homecoming became sick. She had to have Dude put down a few weeks ago.

“The dog we got for Trevor lasted 13 and a half years,” she said.

“I guess I’m still hoping for that miracle, divine intervention. There’s nothing more I can do.”

With files from Clara Ho, Calgary Herald

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