http://www.calgaryherald.com/What+happened...8455/story.htmlWhat happened to Calgary trucker Trevor Angell in Las Vegas?
By Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald January 13, 2014
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, Alta., 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, Alta., 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.”
Records show that Trevor’s debit card was used nine times to make withdrawals until 4 a.m. Sept. 23. 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.”