Monday, June 22, 2009

No Justice for Angie--Part 1

by Donna Weaver

Every family with a missing murdered loved one knows all too well how elusive justice can be-- myself included. But I cannot imagine how devastating it must be to finally have justice within your grasp only to have it slip right through your fingers.

The trial of Michael Shane Yarnell for the murder of his wife Angie had been set for September 2009. But on Monday, June 8, 2009, Mike Yarnell was sentenced to seven years in prison as part of a plea agreement for murdering his wife. Many people were incredulous over the deal made by Morgan County, Missouri Prosecuting Attorney, Marvin Opie.

As part of the plea agreement, Opie agreed to accept Yarnell's offer to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the first degree if all other charges against him were dismissed. Yarnell was originally charged with second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, first and second degree involuntary manslaughter, forgery, and tampering with physical evidence. Mr. Opie did not return a phone call at the time of this publication.

Ironically, it was the forgery charge that led to Mike Yarnell's confession years after the fact of murdering his wife Angie during what he claimed was a domestic dispute.

That Mike Yarnell is serving a prison sentence at all for Angie's murder can be attributed to the love and courageous perseverance of her mother, Marianne Asher-Chapman, and the tenacity and heart of one lone journalist, Ra'Vae Edwards, formerly a reporter for the News Tribune.

I hope you will be as outraged and horrified as I am over Mike Yarnell's plea agreement and sentence after reading how events unfolded in the disappearance and murder of Michelle Angela "Angie" Yarnell.

October 25, 2003 was the last day anyone saw 28-year-old Angie Yarnell alive. One week later, Mike Yarnell told Angie's family that she left him for another man after she failed to show up at her mother's home for her niece's birthday party.

Two weeks later, Marianne received a postcard from Angie, postmarked November 8, 2003, saying that she was on her way to Texas with someone named Gary to visit Gary's family and that she would call when they were settled. It was this postcard that proved to be Mike Yarnell's undoing.

Mike Yarnell didn't file for divorce. He knew Angie would never be coming back.

Tomorrow, in Part 2: Angie's disappearance, a botched investigation, and Mike Yarnell's surprising confession.


Cheryl said...

Unbelievable. I can only imagine what her family is feeling right now. What a great unjustice. I wonder how Marvin Opie sleeps at night?

Leah said...

WE can only hope that he gets his justice in other ways because 7 years is a gift!

Anonymous said...

Lets face it. If they gave him that deal then they didnt have anything on him. He could have made his bets and could have gotten away with it completely on the basis of self defense.

Because you know what? Sometimes women do go to hit a guy and they get shoved away. I have seen it happen. The story is not so far fetched that reasonable doubt could not be met in this case.

I do however feel sorry for her family.

Anonymous said...

People need to get past it whats done is done. You can't change anything no matter how many years he does or doesn't get.Accidents do happen people do panic right or wrong it happens all the time.The family of either parties are never going to get past it and go on with there lives if this gossip about it all contiunes.

Peggy QDE said...


Thank you for writing this story. After my involvement with the case, I thought positive things would happen for Angies' mom.

I am the Forensic Document - Handwriting Examiner that found Mike had written the "post card".

I also analyzed the police statement Mike wrote about Angies dissappearance. The handwriting revealed Mike killed Angie with his hands (choking) and he placed her in water. The handwriting also indicated when caught, he would confess. I would not be surprised if he was told not to give all the details, or to be honest about where Angie is.

He may get 7 years in prison, he will have a life time of guilt to live with.

I pray for him.

Peggy Walla
LPR Investigations - Texas A15090
979-732-3454 Fax: 979-732-5499
Columbus, TX 78934
Director of Forensic Sciences - CHAI
Court Qualified Forensic Document Examiner / Handwriting Analyst
Member ASTM, NAIS, NCISS, NADE, TALI, F.L.I.P., ACFEI, Texas Police Assoc., Sheriffs Assoc.Texas, Member Texas Game Warden Peace Officers Assoc., Texas DPS Officers Assoc.

Anonymous said...

If he confessed to choking her then why in the hell would he get this deal? He said he shoved her and she fell off the deck.

Are you like a psychic handwriting expert?

Peggy QDE said...

He did NOT confess to choking her, the handwriting revealed this.

Anonymous said...

And how does handwriting reveal this unless he wrote it?

Ra'Vae Edwards said...

I am the journalist that Donna mentions in this story. Believe me when I tell you that this story takes more twists and turns than even possible to write about in a story or a blog.

Donna has done an awesome job summarizing this story in the first part. I would be willing to bet the second part will be even better!

When Mike was given the plea bargain, he confessed to the judge in the courtroom and under oath, that he "recklessly caused the death of his wife."

He admitted that he hid the body. He claims he put her in the Lake of the Ozarks and allegedly took the police to where he put her. No trace of a body was found in any search.

Personally, I don't believe his story and I can honestly tell you that law enforcement does not believe it either. And, I will take it one step further and tell you that this prosecutor told Angie's mother, in in my presence, that he doesn't believe Mike's story either.

Think about this for a minute. If it were an accident and she died just from falling off the 4-foot deck, as he claimed, why not call 911 and seek assistance? Regardless whether or not they had or didn't have marital problems, don't you think seeking medical assistance for your dying wife makes more sens than tossing her body in a large body of water and hiding it from the family and lying to the family and to law enforcement?

It's the subsequent actions that Mike took that lead a person to the idea that Angie didn't die "accidentally" and that there is much more to the story.

The problem is...only Mike, Angie and God know the real story.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is saying its an accident. Only that he could have gotten off on reasonably doubt if given a trial, and given NO time.

Except for your phychic handwritting expert of course, who knows by his handwritting that he strangled her.

With witnesses like that no wonder they gave the guy a plea bargain. if Peggi had been on the stand I would imagine their would have been actual laughing.

Ra'Vae Edwards said...

Peggy Walla is not a psychic handwriting expert. She is a Certified Document Analyst and is 100 percent professional in her work.

It wasn't until Peggy Walla volunteered to analyze the Post Card and compare that writing to Mike AND Angie's writing, that Mike Yarnell was even named a suspect.

It was her certified report that FINALLY caught the attention of Law Enforcement and this man was officially named a Person of Interest in Angie's disappearance, FOUR years after the fact.

The study of handwriting is not something that anyone can just do. It takes an incredible eye for detail and it's not a new concept, and, thankfully, it is something that law enforcement take serious and use often in their investigations.

Ra'Vae Edwards said...

I can't argue the reasonable doubt...

But, they have a confession. Accident or not, the man was responsible for the death of the woman he married.

Is it the best circumstances for a prosecutor? No, it's not.

Could he have been found guilty? We'll never know.

But the fact that this was pushed through the system in a mere six months, is worse than injustice. It's a complete slap in the face to Angie's family and to those who cared about and loved her.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on everything but the Peggy Walla part. I have no doubts about handwriting experts and thier help in cases. However for her to say that the handwriting led her to believe he choked her is ludicrous and is a crazy thing to say.

Unless he WROTE it. Using a handwiting analyst to finger someone or to rule someone out is one thing. But.

Anonymous said...

Really people this is all starting to sound like a bunch of BS. It's over go on with your lives. Your never going to get him to say what you want to hear. And even if he did, someone would twist and turn it! Sounds like thats already the case!!

Donna Weaver said...

Peggy, thanks for writing. I read your behavioral analysis of Mike Yarnell. It was extremely thorough and well referenced. Although we come from different approaches to behavioral profiling, I agree with many of your conclusions regarding the traits exhibited by the suspect. Interesting indeed! Your valuable assistance led to the big break in this case, causing Mike Yarnell's arrest on forgery and becoming a suspect in Angie's death. Excellent work!

Donna Weaver said...

Thank you all for your comments.

But, for those of you who believe Mike Yarnell's version of how Angie died, I can assure you that based on experience, training, and the available facts, his story about how Angie died definitely does not track. That being said, valuable forensic evidence that could be used to confirm or refute his claims is not available. However, should Angie's body be recovered, it may still be possible to determine if trauma to the remains is consistant with his version of events, or tells a different story alltogether. And yes, I do agree that the plea deal was probably the only option to get him any jail time at all because the defense could have made mincemeat out of the case due to the lack of evidence and deplorable efforts of the first investigator on the case. In any event, it will not be over until Angie is returned to her family.

Donna Weaver said...

Thanks, Ra'Vae. You have done a tremendous job with this story. We need more investigative journalists like you! Thanks for all your help. I can't wait to read your book!

Delilah said...

The reporting on this story and the blog entry are excellent. I agree with Donna above that it is never over until a mother's child is home again.

Regardless of the facts, the Anonymouses (or anonymice) of the internet always seem to play devil's advocate. Then again, maybe they know more than they ever wish to reveal.