Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Justice for Angie-Part 2

by Donna Weaver

Angie Yarnell and her mother, Marianne Asher-Chapman were very close. Angie was even maid of honor at her mother's wedding (Marianne and Angie pictured left). Mother and daughter talked on the phone frequently and saw each other often. So when Angie did not show up at her niece's birthday party at Marianne's home, her mother knew something was horribly wrong. She called and left several messages for Angie.

After leaving a final message that "if she (Angie) didn't call me by the next morning. I was going to drive to her house and bang on the door", it was Angie's husband, Mike, who showed up at Marianne's door. Mike took Angie's two dogs and drove to Marianne's Holts Summit home and told her that the last time he had seen Angie was exactly seven days before, on October 25, 2005. He said that Angie had left him for another man.

The following morning after Mike's visit, Marianne made the 90-minute drive from her house to Mike and Angie's Ivy Bend home. She says one of the first things she noticed was that 2 freezers were missing from the house. Marianne says that Angie had told her in a recent phone conversation about how she had been filling the freezers, stocking them up with meat for the coming winter. The same day, Marianne files a missing persons report with the Morgan County Sheriff's Office. She says another thing that went missing shortly after that was Mike's truck, and as far as she knows, there was no effort by law enforcement to locate either the truck or the freezers after she filed the missing persons report on Angie.

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 eventually proved to be Mike Yarnell's undoing.

Marianne says that Angie confided in her that there was trouble in her three year marriage to Mike. Angie said Mike was "verbally and emotionally abusive." Marianne also states that approximately 2-3 weeks before Angie disappeared Angie told her, "Mike said he didn't love me anymore and that he never loved me."

In the meantime, Ra'Vae Edwards kept the story of Angie's disappearance alive in the News Tribune hoping that someone would come forward with new information.

Mike Yarnell Disappears

Two years after Angie was reported missing, Marianne received a call from the
Montel Williams Show. They had read Ra'Vae Edwards' coverage of Angie's story in the News Tribune and asked Marianne to appear on the show to talk about Angie's disappearance.

Five days after the segment aired on national television, Mike Yarnell disappeared. It seems Yarnell had a habit of disappearing when he was in trouble. Some years before marrying Angie, he fled to Mexico after going AWOL from the Navy. He was arrested there on drug charges and spent 3 years in a Mexican prison.

Then Marianne and Ra'Vae hatch a brilliant plan: Marianne, as his mother-in-law, files a missing person report for Mike Yarnell in March of 2008.

Yarnell is Found

Marianne's missing person report on Mike Yarnell eventually leads to his arrest--but not at first.

When Mike Yarnell applies for a job at an Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, a background check is run as part of the employment process and it is discovered he is a not only a missing person, but a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Angie. However, when law enforcement in Morgan County are first notified that Mike Yarnell has been found, they told authorities in Biloxi to let him go.

Marianne was convinced the postcard she received from her daughter two weeks after her disappearance was not written by Angie. She suspected it was Mike who had written the note to her mother saying she was running away with another man.

Reporter Ra'Vae Edwards contacted Peggy Walla, a Forensic Handwriting Document expert who agreed to analyze the postcard. Comparing the writing to both samples of Mike and Angie's handwriting, Walla definitively determined that it was indeed Mike who had written and sent the postcard to Marianne saying Angie had left for Texas.

Armed with this new information, Marianne takes it to Morgan County investigators who travel in August 2008 to Biloxi where Mike Yarnell still resides. Yarnell spoke to authorities about his missing wife and admitted to sending the postcard to Marianne, but provided no other information at that time about what really happened to Angie.

Yarnell Confesses to Killing Angie

In early November 2008, Mike Yarnell is arrested in Mississippi and jailed in Morgan County, Missouri on charges of forgery and tampering with physical evidence for writing and mailing the postcard to Marianne, trying to make her believe that Angie was alive and well.

Then in December 2008, more than five years after Angie disappeared, Yarnell makes a startling confession to Morgan County detectives. He admitted that during a domestic dispute on Oct 26, 2003, he shoved Angie off of the deck of their Ivy Bend home causing her to fall 4 feet to her death. He said that "after he sat with her awhile, he freaked out, then loaded her body in the car intending to drive her to Versailles."

Yarnell said he freaked out again, turned the car around, returned home to pick up the couples' canoe, and drove Angie's body to a boat ramp on the Lake of the Ozarks. He said he then put Angie into the canoe and rowed about 4 miles to an island. But when Yarnell reached the island, he said his adrenaline rush had passed and he was unable to get Angie's body onto the shore and lost her in the water.

Detectives were unable to locate Angie's body where Mike said he left her.

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 just six months after Yarnell confessed to killing Angie.

Marianne says the confession and plea agreement doesn't change anything--she will continue to search for Angie's body. She believes that if Angie is found, her remains will tell a different story than the one Mike Yarnell confessed to.

Marianne says she feels obligated to help other families with missing loved ones. She says she keeps a sign on her refrigerator that says, "The duty of a good citizen is to keep her mouth open"

In 2007, Marianne, along with Peggy Florence, whose daughter Jasmine Haslag also disappeared, formed Missouri Missing, an organization dedicated to support families of missing persons and spread awareness in the cause of the missing and unidentified.

It is possible Mike Yarnell could end up doing as little as three years in prison for murdering his wife. In the meantime, Marianne Asher-Chapman's life sentence of heartbreak goes on.

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