ST CHARLES, Mo. — Earl Webster Cox will spend the rest of his life in prison for the 1993 kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 9-year-old Angie Housman.
The 63-year-old pleaded guilty Thursday in a St. Charles County courtroom to first-degree murder and child molestation.
By pleading guilty, he waived his right to appeal.
He’s never getting out.
But he will not be executed for the crime that captivated St. Louisans for nearly 25 years as it sat unsolved.
St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said several factors led him to take the death penalty off the table, which include: Cox is in poor health and would likely not live long enough to be executed after exhausting all of his appellate rights; though he’s confident he could have won a jury trial with evidence including DNA, Lohmar said a win is not guaranteed; and knowing what really happened to Angie and whether Cox acted alone mattered.
It’s a move that has angered some in Angie’s family. Her mother died of cancer at age 52 in 2016 before learning the identity of her daughter’s attacker. Angie lived with her mother and step-father when she was killed.
Angie’s paternal aunt, Debbie Skaggs, told 5 On Your Side she believes Cox should pay for the crime with his life.
"He doesn't deserve to live," she said. "I'm never going to change my mind about that. And he's going to go to hell.
"There's no way he did it by himself. I mean, what I was told is that they tied her up in on a tree. One person can't do that if she's wiggling. I'm sure she's fighting. That's gonna mess me up, I'm starting to get tears in my eyes."
Skaggs continued: "She didn't get to graduate. She didn't get to get married. She didn't get to have kids. He took that away. So why would we give him life in prison? And we pay for his meal three times a day, you know. It's not fair. It's not fair."
Skaggs said the case is not closed in her eyes.
"Angie needs help," she said. "She needs the public to come forward if they know anything. If they heard anything, if they know for a fact who was involved, they need to speak up for this 9-year-old little girl."
Lohmar said he understands why some of Angie’s family members aren’t pleased. At the press conference announcing the charges against Cox, Lohmar said he "had reason to believe Earl Cox was not the only suspect."
But, he said he is now confident no one else was involved based on the evidence and investigation that took place following the DNA hit and the June 2019 press conference.
“I know not everybody has been impacted by this is thrilled with the outcome,” Lohmar said. “I'm not thrilled with the outcome.
“How can you be thrilled with something like this? But when we look at what we're tasked with as prosecutors to do, that's to seek justice, not just for the victim, not just for the victim's family but for our community. I feel like justice has been accomplished.”
Cox’s criminal history of molesting children dates to about 40 years ago.
He was deemed a Sexually Dangerous Person by the federal government following the dismantling of an international child porn ring of which Cox was a major player. He finished his sentence for that crime. Because of the designation, he remained in custody, but as a patient at a federal facility dedicated to rehabbing sexual predators.
Thursday’s expected guilty plea means he will spend the rest of his life in a Missouri prison -- not as a patient -- but as an inmate.