It was a time of terror for St. Louisans. In the early 90s, several children disappeared across the area.
Many were found. Some were not.
Now 25 years after one of those children was found murdered, the I-Team uncovered new information that could breathe new life into this cold case.
"First time I seen the little girl, she jumped up on my lap and said 'Hey daddy.' I said, 'Whoa, should I be a dad or not?' Boom I became dad," said Ron Bone, Angie Housman's stepfather.
Decades later, Bone is still a proud dad, often showing off pictures of his little girl.
A girl who will never age.
A girl who never made it home.
"She got off the school bus. She had four more [houses] to go to make it into the house and she never made it," said Bone.
It was November 1993.
Nine-year-old Angie Housman vanished from a quiet St. Ann street. For nine days, Angie's family, local police, even the FBI searched everywhere. Then, hunters made a gruesome discovery at the Busch wildlife area in St. Charles.
"It was cold, cloudy. Just a dreary day. I saw a young child's body lying in the woods. It was very shocking, yes. I pretty much knew who it was," said Lieutenant Ed Copeland with the St. Charles County Police Department. Copeland was first on the scene 25 years ago.
Angie had been beaten, starved and tortured for several days.
Dr. Mary Case was the chief medical examiner for St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties and conducted Angie's autopsy.
"Cases like this, there's no way you forget this. I've never forgotten Angie Housman," Dr. Case said. "She had no clothing on her body. She had been tied to a tree with some clothing and her hands were in handcuffs. She had very wide duct tape that covered up her mouth, and her nose was exposed. And under the duct tape there was a pair of panties over her mouth, but not stuck into the airway."
GONE COLD | The Doll and the Monster
Despite what she may have gone through, Dr. Case said it was the cold that killed the little girl.
"I'm sure it was horrifying. She's taken out and hooked up to a tree and has no clothing and it's very cold and she can't see what is going on. Of course, she was suffering," said Dr. Case.
The details of what she went through are shocking. The I-Team got our hands on a copy of Angie's autopsy.
It's a document that's never been released to the public. It not only reveals the gory details of her injuries, but sheds light on the killer's state of mind.
Dr. Case found two cuts to Angie's wrists, one deep enough to cut a tendon. There also was a larger cut across her thigh.
"Whether they were trying to kill her and decided to do something else, I don't know the answer to that," said Dr. Case.
Bone said Angie's hair also was changed during her disappearance. It was shorter, and the color was changed, said Bone. He believes Angie's murder may have been related to sex trafficking.
"It could be like sex trafficking. Trying to set up to get her shipped off for a sex thing. We didn’t know for sure," said Bone.
In 1993, KSDK was inside the lab as analysts uncovered clues from evidence gathered at the crime scene.
One of those clues was a single fingerprint lifted from duct tape found on Angie's body.
"It's documented, compared to everyone we come into contact with to this day," said Copeland.
In 1993, investigators collected more than 150 pieces of evidence.
Back then, that sole fingerprint was the best evidence they had to go on.
Twenty-five years later, DNA technology could reveal more information than ever before and unmask Angie's killer.
St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar is counting on that.
"We're in the process, still ongoing of DNA testing some of those items of evidence, in hopes we can find something that prior testing wouldn't have shown," said Lohmar.
The I-Team asked if that meant DNA had been found.
"I can say if DNA wasn't found, we'd be a lot more discouraged than we are," said Lohmar.
There is talk of true crime shows offering their resources to help solve the case. Lohmar said his office is open to the possibility of accepting outside help.
"This is one that’s been unique enough that, so far, it’s been open indefinitely, and it’ll remain open indefinitely until we have a reason to close it," said Lohmar.
Sources outside the prosecutor's office told the I-Team evidence from the case is being processed right now in the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.
Long shot or glimmer of hope?
Angie's mother, Diane, passed away two years ago from cancer never knowing who killed Angie. Bone hopes he lives long enough to see his little girl's killer brought to justice.
"It's gone too long. They need to solve it. Have Angie resting in her peace instead of where she's at. She's not resting peacefully right now, I don't think," said Bone.