Why it took cops 2 weeks and 3 visits to find 15-year-old dead in crawlspace
Before authorities found 15-year-old Nicole Angstadt dead in the crawlspace of an abandoned home, the apparent victim of a homicide, they'd come to the boarded-up house twice before. Each time, they left without finding the teen.
That's just one of the details police have released in a timeline of events of their investigation — a seeming response to public criticism of the investigation by family and friends who said they don't believe investigators did enough to find the girl before she was killed.
“The police didn’t do anything about it for a week,” close family friend PerryAshley Yawhctob told New Jersey 101.5 last week, adding that Angstadt’s older sister had to confront authorities with threats of going to media before they took action. She criticized police for describing Angstadt as a runaway in a community alert days after she was first reported missing Dec. 1
Nicole Angstadt's sister, Heather Bradley, said much the same to the Press of Atlantic City last week.
[n their statement, Lower Township Police say the opposite is true — that they investigated Angstadt's case diligently from the start.
According to the statement, Police Chief William Mastriana and Chief Paul Skill from the Cape May County Prosecutors Office met with the family Sunday to go over the investigation and to "address concerns that they may have as a result of the numerous false and misleading statements being made on social media."
According to the timeline of events as described by Lower Township Police:
• Angstadt was reported missing Dec. 1 at 12:49 p.m., having last been seen Nov. 29 at a bus stop in the Rio Grande section of Middle Township, heading to Wildwood. Police were told she was expected to return that night, but didn't. No other information about her destination or any companions was given.
• That day, she was entered into the National Crime Information Center as a missing person. At the time, police had no information that she was endangered, so no Amber Alert was activated. Angstadt's cell phone provider was contacted for updates. The same day, police followed up in Wildwood, Middle Township and Lower Township, at locations Angstadt was known to frequent, and with people with whom she was known to associate. A bulletin was sent out to multiple county and state law enforcement agencies.
• In the days following the report, police traveled and checked several locations in Cape May County and Cumberland County. They opened a case with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Police sent out a press release to the public and monitored social media sites. They contacted the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit, South Jersey Child Exploration Task Force. Police conducted several interviews and viewed video surveillance (police did not say in their description who the subjects of those interviews were, or what the surveillance was of).
• On Dec. 8, one week after Angstadt was reported missing, police and the prosecutor's office spoke again to the family, and were told they'd heard Angstadt might be hanging out at an abandoned house at 100 Vermont Ave. in the Rio Grande section of Middle Township — it was there that she was later found dead. Police were also first told the initial information about a bus stop and trip to Wildwood were inaccurate, and that Angstadt had in fact left her home, walking toward Rio Grande.
• Police went to the home and found it secured and boarded up by the real estate agent after a report of a burglary three days earlier. No one was found or located inside the residence.
• On Dec. 9, police returned to the home with the prosecutor's office, after making contact with the real estate agency, and entered it. Again, they found no one.
• Police said in the "preceding days leading up to the discovery of Nicole’s body several follow ups and interviews were done in reference to any and all leads, tips and information received." The weren't more specific about what those leads were, or how they led police back to the home for a third visit.
• On Dec. 14 Detectives from the Lower Township Police Department along with investigators from the Cape May County Prosecutors Office located Angstadt's body in the crawlspace of 100 Vermont Ave. while looking for any evidence that she was at that location.
The Cape May Prosecutor's Office hasn't said how it believes Angstadt died — but it has said her death is considered a homicide. Investigators "do not believe this to be a random act," the prosecutor's office said last week.
So far three people have been charged in the same investigation — but none for causing Angstadt's death.
Authorities said they learned Monday 32-year-old Charles E. Mosley of Rio Grande had a sexual relationship with Angstadt. He was charged with sexual assault of a person at least 13 but less than 16 years of age, a crime of the second degree, endangering the welfare of a minor in the third-degree, and trespassing in the fourth- degree. Mosley was lodged in the Cape May County Correctional Facility in lieu of $250,000 bail.
LaQuan D. Harris, 20, and Derrick Powers, 23, of Rio Grande have both been charged with two counts each of first-degree armed robbery and second-degree conspiracy to commit armed robbery. It's not clear exactly how those charges related to the investigation into Angstadt's disappearance and death.
The prosecutor's office hasn't said specifically if any of those three people are considered suspects in the death — and has noted they haven't been charged as such.
A fundraiser started by Yawhctob and Bradley to help the family pay for funeral expenses had raised more than $2,300 by Wednesday. Yawhctob has said neither of Angstadt's parents could afford funeral expenses on their own.
Donations can also be made directly to the Evoy Funeral Home.