Cold Case Solved | Angela Samota
Episode 8

Cold Case Solved | Angela Samota

This week, Facing Evil is in Dallas, Texas for Podcast Movement. And we discuss the case of Angela Samota, who was killed in Dallas in 1984.

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In The Episode

Trevor Young 00:03

You're listening to Facing Evil, a production of iHeart Radio and Tenderfoot TV. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the individuals participating in the show and do not represent those of iHeart Radio or Tenderfoot TV. This podcast contains subject matter which may not be suitable for everyone. Listener Discretion is Advised

Rasha Pecoraro 00:27

Hi everyone, welcome back to Facing Evil from Tenderfoot TV and iHeart Radio. We are your hosts, I'm Rasha Pecoraro.

Yvette Gentile 00:35

And I am Yvette Gentile and always with our Texan producer, Trevor Young.

Trevor Young 00:41

Howdy, howdy, howdy. 

Rasha Pecoraro 00:43

Howdy, howdy. 

Yvette Gentile 00:43

Howdy, howdy y'all. Oh my god, this is going to be such a special episode because as we speak, we are at Podcast Movement in Dallas, Texas, y'all.

Trevor Young 00:55

Welcome to Texas.

Yvette Gentile 00:56

Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Trevor. This is our very first time at Podcast Movement. And we are so excited and honored to be here. And we're actually going to be speaking on a panel about Facing Evil. And we're going to be interviewing a few big names in the podcast community. All of that, of course, will be published right here on the Facing Evil feed. So look out for that in the coming weeks. 

Rasha Pecoraro 01:22

That's right, and we wanted to do something special this week while we're in Dallas. So as it happens, there is one case we've been talking about for a very long time. A case that takes place right here in Dallas. It's a very important one. So Trevor, I would be honored if you'd get us started.

Archive Clip 01:43

What's the problem sir?


My girlfriend called me said there was a man in her apartment using the bathroom and the phone and now I cannot get her to answer the phone. Her car is here and she can't, won't answer the door, or can't answer the door.

Archive Clip 01:59

I mean, this man stabbed her 18 times, broke bones, everything when they went in and found Angie, there was so much blood, it look like her heart had been cut out.

Trevor Young 02:11

Angela Samota was a 20 year old woman from Dallas, Texas. On the evening of October 12, 1984, Angela went out with some college friends. Late that night after she returned home. Angela found a man in her apartment. Distressed she called her boyfriend, Ben, but then abruptly hung up. Around 2am, police arrived on the scene and discovered Angela's body. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death. Police looked at multiple suspects, including her boyfriend, an ex boyfriend, and one of the men she went out with that night. But police weren't able to convict anyone in Angela's murder. They said they lacked sufficient evidence. And so Angela's case went cold and it remained cold for years. But one of Angela's friends Sheila Wysocki was determined to find the killer. And she did her own investigation and presented her findings to the Dallas Police. And as a result, police eventually reopen the case and arrested the culprit in 2008. And so what happened to Angela Samota? Why weren't the police initially able to solve the murder? And what does this tell us about how law enforcement investigates rape cases?

Rasha Pecoraro 03:27

To me it's such a horrific crime. I mean, of course, every crime that we talked about here on Facing Evil is a horrific crime. But she was brutally murdered. And it became a cold case. But the light in the darkness for me, of course, is Angela's friend, Sheila, and how she did not give up.

Yvette Gentile 03:55

And so many of these cases like back then, right, they didn't have cold case squads that could, you know, like go after all of these rapists. So all of these cases, right, just sat I mean, this is just so horrible. And what really gets to me about this case that Angela, I mean, she was attacked in her own home, in a place where like after you've partied all night and had a good time, you want to go home and just enjoy, you know, your space 

Rasha Pecoraro 04:28

And feel safe. 

Yvette Gentile 04:29

Right? Especially when you're tired. You know, like this is just so horrifying. That this happened in her home.

Rasha Pecoraro 04:38


Trevor Young 04:39

Yeah, I think home invasion stories are always particularly unsettling. 

Rasha Pecoraro 04:42


Trevor Young 04:43

I think there's a reason why we have so many horror movies, you know, that have a whole genre around home invasions, just like... 

Rasha Pecoraro 04:50

Yeah, yeah. 

Trevor Young 04:50

One of the worst things you can experience.

Rasha Pecoraro 04:52

All of that it's absolutely true, but this case, should have been investigated so much better. I mean, I feel like this is a recurring thing that keeps happening in all the cases that we're talking about, you know, like, something should have been done from the beginning, this should not have become a cold case, it was almost as if the police just gave up.

Trevor Young 05:13

Yeah, I think it was really sad how this case just sat alone for 20 years with no one touching it. You know, the way that the evidence was just kind of stored and never really looked into. And I think the really kind of even more sad thing is that this sort of thing is really common. This happens all the time.

Yvette Gentile 05:34

I know I mean, exactly. If we think about the Black Dahlia case, right, Elizabeth Short, like that was 75 years ago, and it still, still to this day, technically unsolved.

Trevor Young 05:47

Yep, it's true. And this sort of thing hasn't really gotten any better since The Black Dahlia case, which was back in the 40s. Here's just a little bit of statistics you can look at. So just looking at general homicide cases between 1980 and 2019, there were nearly 185,000 homicide, and non negligent manslaughter cases that went unsolved. And then in cases of rape, specifically, the solve rate is even lower, it's even worse. So for every 100 cases of rape, only 12 of them lead to an arrest, only nine on average are prosecuted. And then only five of them actually lead to any sort of felony conviction. So that's super abysmal.

Yvette Gentile 05:54


Rasha Pecoraro 06:31

Abysmal, yes. Abysmal. And not okay, in any way, shape, or form. That's injustice. And that's exactly why we wanted to talk about this case. And, I mean, I can only speak for myself, right. But I think being a woman, a cisgendered woman at that, like, I think that's one of your biggest fears, right is being raped or feeling vulnerable, right. And, you know, I don't believe in hope being lost. But when Angela's murder went unsolved for so many years after being raped and brutally stabbed to death, like, all it took was that one person who believed in finding her killer, and that, to me, is hope. There's hope in every single case. So like when anyone ever says, oh, no, you can't solve it, it can't be done. I don't believe that. 

Yvette Gentile 07:23

Right, right 

Rasha Pecoraro 07:24

And I don't believe that because of the Sheila's of the world. 

Yvette Gentile 07:27

Right. I mean, if anything, like what you just said, I mean, that's the light in this story. It's certainly the kind of thing that police should be doing this, like not ordinary citizens or friends of the family should be doing this. But if you have a calling to do it, and you feel that passionate about it... 

Rasha Pecoraro 07:49

Do it. 

Yvette Gentile 07:50

That's how change happens.

Trevor Young 07:52

Thank goodness, we have motivated people because... 

Yvette Gentile 07:54


Trevor Young 07:55

Typically the people whose job it is like, just they're not as motivated. They don't have the personal connection to it the way somebody like Sheila does.

Rasha Pecoraro 08:02

Right. And like maybe they become too desensitized to it. Like you said, Trevor, because they don't have a connection, like to the victim. But yeah, I could not be a police officer because I'm way too empathetic. I put myself in every victim shoes, and I think that's why, you know, my stomach's always in knots. But I have to find that light in the darkness. 

Yvette Gentile 08:21


Rasha Pecoraro 08:21

So all right, Trevor, let's get into it. Can you tell us more about Angela Samota.

Trevor Young 08:27

So Angela Samota, was born on October 13th in 1964, she moved to Dallas at age 18 To enroll at Southern Methodist University, SMU, where she studied electrical engineering. She was also a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. I hope I'm saying that right.

Rasha Pecoraro 08:45

I'm sure they'll correct you if you're not.

Yvette Gentile 08:49

Oh, my goodness. So, I remember this in 1984. Like, there was not a ton of women doing what Angela was doing. 

Rasha Pecoraro 08:59


Yvette Gentile 08:59

I mean, she was clearly very bold, very smart. And very, very independent.

Rasha Pecoraro 09:06

Yes, especially in 1984. And according to one friend, Angela was "a triple threat", which I like to think I am sometimes I think we all would love to be triple effects. 

Yvette Gentile 09:17

Oh, yeah. 

Rasha Pecoraro 09:18

And she was absolutely beautiful. She was gorgeous. And she had this 1000 Watt smile. You know, if you look her up, you can see how beautiful she was. And her smile could light up a room. She was also incredibly vivacious her friends would say and of course incredibly intelligent. There's actually a photo you know, from that time of Angela that I've seen online and I think it's like a yearbook photo or something. But it's Angela like sitting in a classroom full of men. And they are just, you know, looking at her and she's just the badass that she was, she was just sitting there looking super cool and confident.

Yvette Gentile 09:57

Have you guys seen that picture? because I have and she is just like, she is right in her element. 

Rasha Pecoraro 10:03


Yvette Gentile 10:03

She's just calm. And you can tell that she is in control, you know of the whole situation.

Trevor Young 10:09

I'm bothered by the male gaze. 

Yvette Gentile 10:11

Yeah. And I really think that, that is an important backdrop for what happens the night of October 12th. So, Trevor, can you tell us what happened?

Trevor Young 10:22

Right. So October 12th, she invites her neighbor and a friend to join her at the State Fair of Texas. And the neighbor is a very shy, older man named Russell Buchanan. So that night, Angela, Russell Buchanan and her friend Anita Kadala go to the fair. And the fair, that night, coincided with the annual football game between UT, University of Texas, and OU, which is University of Oklahoma. And that's a huge rivalry for anybody who doesn't know. This means that there were up to 75,000 people or so, roaming the streets of Dallas that evening, near the State Fair. So after the fair, Angela and her two friends ended up at a club in Dallas called the Real Room where Angela was supposedly just, you know, she owned the room. She was like the most popular person there. It was her place. 

Rasha Pecoraro 11:13

Yeah. And I think I've heard that, you know, her, her friends have been quoted as saying that she was always the person like bouncing from table to table. And like, yeah, one of the friends said that, she knew everyone. And so around 1:00 a.m. that night, you know, they ended up leaving, and she dropped her two friends off at their places. And then she actually stopped by her boyfriend's place, and her boyfriend was named Ben McCall. And she just dropped by to say goodnight. Because remember, you know, Ben didn't go with them that night. Do we know why he didn't go to the fair?

Yvette Gentile 11:46

He said he didn't go to the fair because he had to get up early. And from what I understand he worked in construction. So you know, normally they're up at the crack of dawn. 

Rasha Pecoraro 11:54


Yvette Gentile 11:55

But what we do know is that she did see him that night, she goes to visit him and then that's when she goes back to her place.

Trevor Young 12:03

Right. So then at about 1:45 a.m., in the morning, Ben, her boyfriend, gets a phone call. And it's Angela back at home telling him that there is a man in her condo. He was apparently asking to use the phone and bathroom and she let him in. And then there's this very chilling detail. She says to him on the phone, "Talk to me". But then the line goes dead.

Yvette Gentile 12:32

That's just, that's so frightening.

Rasha Pecoraro 12:34

Talk to me. And those are the last words that anyone who loved or cared for Angela Samota would ever hear her speak.

Trevor Young 12:43

Right. We do need to take a quick break, though. So we'll pick it right up after we get back.

Rasha Pecoraro 12:53

So after Ben gets that incredibly disturbing phone call from Angela, he calls the police, as absolutely he should. So at roughly 2:17 a.m. The police show up and find the door locked. So they actually have to end up breaking the door down in order to get inside. And inside, they find Angela's body.

Trevor Young 13:15

Yeah, just a disclaimer, it does get a little grisly here, as some of these cases do. But they find her on her bed completely naked. But she was also covered in blood. She had been brutally stabbed to death in the chest area up to 18 times. One of the investigators said it looked like she had had her heart cut out. And she had also been sexually assaulted. So immediately the police identify three suspects. They look at her boyfriend, Ben McCall. There's an unnamed ex boyfriend that they also suspect. And then Russell Buchanan, the neighbor who had gone out with Angela that night, along with her friends. And the only really strong evidence police could find at this crime scene were secretions from the killer, secretions being semen or saliva. So soon thereafter, antigen testing rolled out both Ben the boyfriend and the unnamed ex that just left Russel Buchanan, the shy neighbor that Angela had invited to join her at the state fair. And so that's really the kind of prime suspect at this point. That's who they're really looking at.

Yvette Gentile 14:23

Right? I mean, he wasn't ruled out from the testing. And he lived within walking distance of Angela's apartment. 

Trevor Young 14:30

Yeah, he was a neighbor, right? 

Yvette Gentile 14:31

Yeah, he was very close neighbor. And he was with her that night. So he seems to be the most likely suspect at this point. But he does have an alibi.

Rasha Pecoraro 14:44

Yes. And this is where I think we should bring up a very important character in this story. And that's Angela's friend, Sheila Gibbons, who is actually now known as Sheila Wysocki. So Sheila was a fellow SMU student and Angela's roommate at one point she so she ended up finding out about Angela on the morning of October 13. And, understandably was completely devastated.

Trevor Young 15:09

Right. I mean, this just tore Sheila's world apart. She even said it destroyed her innocence. And she ended up dropping out of SMU because she said she just couldn't function. She couldn't deal with it. Like her whole worldview was just shattered. And around this time, she even said, "I just kept thinking these things just don't happen. They didn't happen in my world."

Yvette Gentile 15:32

Yeah, I can't even imagine, you know, what she was feeling. At that time. I mean, losing her friend in such a brutal way, like, right, when you're in the prime of your lives, and then something so horrific, it literally changes the course of your life. And that's what happened to Sheila.

Trevor Young 15:54

Yeah, I think that loss of innocence bit is, you know, the most telling, you know, I think she probably had a worldview that was very much about school about hope about, you know, growing up about careers and success, and then all of a sudden, all of that was just taken away. It was no longer about progress or living your life in a fruitful way. But the harsh reality that life is dangerous, you know, the second you walk out onto the street, like, nothing is certain.

Rasha Pecoraro 16:24

Or you're in your own home, like Angela was.

Yvette Gentile 16:27

Right, you're in your own, the fear, you know, the fear of that. 

Rasha Pecoraro 16:31

Yeah, I can only imagine, you know, I mean, yes, we're sitting here talking about, you know, horrific crimes that happen every week, but you don't think about it happening to you or to someone you love. And that can definitely change the course of your life, like Yvette said, getting back to the suspects, right? So after Russell Buchanan gave his alibi, police actually went to Sheila for help. So this was very interesting to me. So the police asked Sheila, to actually have dinner with Russell Buchanan, just to see if his alibi and his story matched up with what he'd told the police.

Yvette Gentile 17:11

Can you even imagine that? Like, I mean, going to have dinner with the potential killer of your friend. Like, first of all, she's a badass. 

Rasha Pecoraro 17:22


Yvette Gentile 17:22

But at the same time, can you imagine being her mother? Like, I bet her family doesn't want her to go, like, there's no way but she, she did it? I'm surprised the police even asked her to do it to be honest. Yeah, I know, I think about that, too. You know, again, we're talking about like, you know, sending, a, like, civilian in to go and sit with a potential killer, like, wouldn't it be an undercover cop or someone, right?

Rasha Pecoraro 17:46

Yeah. But anyway, I mean, she ends up going, you know, I'm sure she wanted answers. And she wanted justice for Angela. And, you know, I think it was incredibly brave of her to do that, despite her grief. And despite all the emotions that we've talked about, about what she might have been thinking and feeling at that time. There's several interviews out there with her, and she was quoted as saying, "I'm sitting here having dinner with a murderer, Angie's murderer".

Trevor Young 18:17

That said, she also said that Buchanan's story seemed pretty solid. He said he had traveled to Houston that same weekend that Angela was killed to visit his parents, and had not actually heard about the murder until days later, when he returned to Dallas. And that apparently lined up with what the police had. He also goes on to pass a lie detector test. And therefore the police really have nothing on him. And he is officially ruled out. And thus, the case of Angela Samota, does indeed go cold.

Yvette Gentile 18:49

And that could have been the end of the story. Right? But no.

Rasha Pecoraro 18:53


Yvette Gentile 18:54

No, no, no, no, no. Sheila could not let it go. And she didn't give up. I mean, in the following months, she kept meeting with the investigator who was working on the case. But you know, there was still no movement on this case, which had to have been so frustrating for her. 

Rasha Pecoraro 19:13


Yvette Gentile 19:13

But again, she stayed on it.

Rasha Pecoraro 19:15

She kept going. 

Yvette Gentile 19:16

She kept going.

Rasha Pecoraro 19:17

Yeah, and then, you know, fast forward 20 years. Sheila's married, has two kids and has moved to Tennessee. But in the back of her mind, her friend's murder is always there. And it still haunts her. I mean, how how could it not? Right?

Yvette Gentile 19:35

Yeah. So that's when the next wild thing happened. In 2004, she said that while she was sitting at home, she looked over and saw her friend. She said she saw a vision of Angela Samota. 

Rasha Pecoraro 19:50

Like a ghost vision? 

Yvette Gentile 19:52

Like she appeared to her you know, and I don't know if you guys have ever witnessed anything like that. I have never firsthand, had it happen to me, but I have been in the presence. I have a really good friend, and I was sitting with her one day at brunch. And she said, your grandmother, Jimmy Lee is here. And for those who don't know, Jimmy Lee was my mother's adopted black mother who she was raised by in Reno, Nevada. And she said to me, your grandmother's here, and I was like, What are you talking about? And she said, she just wants to apologize to you. And I knew instantly what she meant, because when I was five years old, my grandmother had thrown me out of the house on a snowy day, because I was whining and wanted to go play with my friends. And she was like, 

Rasha Pecoraro 20:41

She was drunk. 

Yvette Gentile 20:42

And she was drunk. Yes. And she was drunk. And I was in my little red coat. And my friend Shayla, like, described what I was wearing, I had not told her anything, she knew nothing. And the inside of my grandmother's, you know, little apartment, described everything. And she said, I just, she's just here, and she just wants you to know that she's sorry for what she did. And I was like, holy shit. 

Rasha Pecoraro 21:08


Yvette Gentile 21:09

But, you know, there was no way she could have known that, because I didn't tell her. Like, have you guys ever had an experience like that?

Trevor Young 21:16

No, not really. I mean, it's a hard thing to talk about, because it feels like so personal to people. And I think it's a very, like, spiritual experience that I fully think is valid, that, you know, people do in fact, see these things. 

Yvette Gentile 21:30


Trevor Young 21:30

For me, I guess I'm a bit of a like, cold heart, existentialist when it comes to like spirituality, like, very much of the belief that you know, we are little organisms on a floating rock hurtling through space, and that, you know, when we die, we just go back into the soil, and then, like, create new plant life. And I don't know, I take more of a scientific approach to these sorts of things. So it's hard for me to, like, fully understand stuff like this. But again, I don't discount it. You know, I don't think that it doesn't happen to people. I just wonder if like, maybe I'm a little bit too closed off to really allow those sorts of visions to kind of channel through me properly. But I don't know.

Rasha Pecoraro 22:10

I, every day, wish that I saw a vision of or an operation of like, mom or different things. But for me, you know, I haven't ever seen, you know, ghosts or spirits. Like in person, I felt things. But our mom very much saw things all the time. 

Yvette Gentile 22:25


Rasha Pecoraro 22:25

And she would share that with us. But for me, it's been coming in my, in my, like, people who have died have been coming in my dreams a lot, like just over the last few months. And it's probably because we're doing this podcast. But I don't, like you said, I don't discredit. You know, I truly believe Sheila saw her friend Angela that day. And that's what I think, pivoted her entire life after that, right. I think that, that vision, made Sheila want to get back on the horse and do something because now we're, you know, 20 years after Angela was murdered. And so right then and there, after seeing that vision of Angela, Sheila picks up the phone and calls the Dallas Police Department, and she asked if there's a cold cases division, which they tell her no, there's not. So then she asked for the detective that she knew from before, 20 years ago, and she leaves a message.

Yvette Gentile 22:48

Yeah, Well, she keeps calling, because obviously the guy is not calling her back. And I have to say like, I've listened to interviews with her. And she called at least 700 times 

Rasha Pecoraro 23:34

Without getting a call back. 

Yvette Gentile 23:35

Right. She just kept calling. And this goes on and on, you know, and it's just so cruel that nobody returned her call.

Trevor Young 23:47

Yeah, I mean, I guess like, think about it, just from this perspective, for a moment. Someone is calling you because she saw a vision of her friend who died 20 years ago. 

Rasha Pecoraro 23:56


Trevor Young 23:56

And she keeps like, leaving all of these messages, like hundreds of messages. And I don't know like you're a busy police officer, like, maybe this just strikes you as like a you know, like a crazy unhinged person. 

Rasha Pecoraro 24:08


Trevor Young 24:09

I guess I can kind of see why he maybe wouldn't take too much stock in it. 

Rasha Pecoraro 24:12


Trevor Young 24:13

But like that said, I agree. I do think it is like super cold, not to at least, like call them back. Like have a couple conversations with them. Just like 

Rasha Pecoraro 24:21


Trevor Young 24:22

I mean, even for your own purposes.

Yvette Gentile 24:23


Trevor Young 24:23

 I feel like probably we stopped calling if you just like, picked up the phone and had like 10 minutes of discussion with her, you know.

Rasha Pecoraro 24:30

For sure. 

Trevor Young 24:30


Yvette Gentile 24:31

Right. Even if you said well, I can't really help you with that, like even if he just called her back right?

Rasha Pecoraro 24:36

Right, like stop calling me. 

Yvette Gentile 24:37

But Right, exactly. But all I can say is one person's crazy is another's determination. 

Rasha Pecoraro 24:44


Yvette Gentile 24:44

And Sheila is as determined as they come. So what does she do? She gets licensed as a private investigator. 

Rasha Pecoraro 24:54

A P.I. 

Yvette Gentile 24:55

Oh my God, I love this so much. She becomes a P.I., police won't answer your calls. Well, they will now.

Rasha Pecoraro 25:06

I love it. I love it. Yeah. But despite Sheila getting her P.I. license, the police still don't call her back, which is sad. You know, Sheila just keeps moving forward and moving onward and upward, right. So she sets up this entire like war room in her house, where she basically organizes all of the facts from the case. And she prints reports about all the rapes that actually happened during that time where they happened, who was arrested. And she, you know, has this war room in her home and goes full speed ahead for two years.

Trevor Young 25:42

And finally, though, there is a break in the case, thank goodness. So thanks to Sheila in 2006, the Dallas Police Department officially reopened the case, which is great. And when they did that, they found something that was absolutely crucial to solving the murder. And that is what we'll talk about after we take another quick break.

Yvette Gentile 26:09

Finally, there's a break in the case. And this is after years of hard work from Sheila. I mean, basically, by herself, with no guarantee of a breakthrough. she persevered and was determined to make this happen to find out who killed her friend.

Trevor Young 26:33

Right. So here's what happened in 2006, police open the case again, and they assigned it to Detective Linda Crum.

Rasha Pecoraro 26:42

And not only does this detective not blow, Sheila off again, like all the other police officers, she tells Sheila that they have evidence to finally find out who the killer is.

Trevor Young 26:55

Right. And this is super meaningful, because the police, as we know, had previously told Sheila that Angela Samota has rape kit had been lost in a flood. And yet, here it was completely untouched, unharmed, which is wild.

Yvette Gentile 27:08

Is that normal? I mean, how could the Dallas Police Department lose this evidence? First of all, let's just say that, but then it turns out that they had it the whole time. Like what the fuck like, excuse my French but like what? 

Rasha Pecoraro 27:23


Trevor Young 27:24

Yeah, I mean, this is something that, unfortunately, we do hear about a lot. And it is a really a major problem all across the country. So we know that in recent years, the media has been paying more attention to what's basically an epidemic and lost or discarded rape kits. It's been found that as many as 200,000 rape kits sit unopened in police storage units all across the country. And meanwhile, assailants go free and oftentimes, you know, they strike again, because it's usually repeat offenders, right? Like a lot of rape kits probably all tie back to the same person. And so what happens in a case like this is that the rape evidence is never sent to a crime lab, or in some cases it is, but it's just never tested. So when Angela Samoto was killed, obviously, DNA analysis wasn't really a thing. In fact, the first DNA base conviction took place three years after Angela Samota in 1987. 

Yvette Gentile 28:21


Trevor Young 28:23

So in the rape kit, they had Angela's fingernails which provided DNA evidence because she had fought back against her attacker like digging her nails into that person's skin. They also had DNA evidence from semen that was found on the scene. So they have a lot of stuff to work with now in 2006,

Yvette Gentile 28:40

right, and then, oh my goodness, lo and behold, they tested it. And they found a match. In the words of Detective Crum, We've got him and in my words from Hawaii Five O, book him daddy, right.

Rasha Pecoraro 28:58

Right. Oh, yes, I love it. So when Sheila was told that they got a match, she initially assumed that it was Angela's neighbor, Russell Buchanan, 

Yvette Gentile 29:09


Rasha Pecoraro 29:09

And she even told the press in an interview, I think before the results came back that she thought it was Russell, poor Russell, because he had been the most promising suspect 20 years prior, but the name of the accused killer was Donald Bess, a man she'd soon come to call the beast.

Trevor Young 29:27

Yeah, so I mean, by all accounts, this was not a good person. At the time of Angela Samota's murder, Bess had already been out on parole following a sentence of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping. And then a year later, in 1985, he was convicted of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault in a completely different case. So in the 2000s, when he was connected to Angelo Samota, he was already serving a life sentence for all of those previous convictions. 

Rasha Pecoraro 29:59


Yvette Gentile 30:00

Yeah, and can I just say, I mean, I looked up this person's photo. And when I say scary, I mean, truly, truly scary. Like it spooked me. Anyhow, so in 2010, Sheila drove from Tennessee, to Texas for the trial. And during the trial, a number of women testified that Bess had sexually assaulted them. And this included Bess's ex wife. And she said Bess had abused both her and their children before they divorced in the early 70s. I mean, this guy was just, I don't even have a word you guys. 

Rasha Pecoraro 30:00


Yvette Gentile 30:04

And what's even more disturbing is when Bess walked into the courtroom, Sheila said, quote, "The door opened, and the only way I can describe it is the room lost all oxygen." So just to give you a little bit of his physical stature Bess was six feet tall, at about 350 pounds. And Sheila said that he had an empty look in his eyes. And Sheila also said that she was thinking, this is the last person who saw Angela alive.

Trevor Young 31:15

And then it all kind of comes to a head on June 8 of 2010, when Donald Bess was found guilty based on the DNA evidence, which was very conclusive, and he was then sentenced to death.

Rasha Pecoraro 31:28

Yeah. And Sheila, understandably, had a horrible and emotional reaction to all of this, as of course, you can imagine, but she told something to the Washington Post that I felt was incredibly heartbreaking. And super real. She was quoted as saying, "Nothing changes. You still have someone who's dead. You still have someone who murdered her. You still have a world that's changed."

Trevor Young 31:55

Yeah, I agree with that sentiment. You know, I think like if you've ever lost somebody in a tragic way, I think there's this kind of feeling of, you know, resignation that maybe comes over you. 

Rasha Pecoraro 32:07


Trevor Young 32:08

It feels like maybe you're the only person who cares as much about this. And I'm sure she lives out that tenfold. 

Rasha Pecoraro 32:14

Mm hmm. 

Trevor Young 32:16

Well, Bess remains on death row today in Texas. And interestingly, the DNA evidence used to convict Donald Bess is very similar to that which was used to convict the Golden State killer. This was back in 2018, I suppose. 

Rasha Pecoraro 32:31

Yes, yes. 

Trevor Young 32:32

If you remember, Joseph James DeAngelo, killed 13 people. He was also convicted of 50 rapes and about 120 burglaries in California. And that was between the mid 70s through the mid 80s or so. 

Rasha Pecoraro 32:45

Mm hmm.

Yvette Gentile 32:46


Trevor Young 32:46

And so just to quickly refresh you all, they use an ancestry database. So they were able to link together his DNA, and other DNA of like family members. And using this kind of like tree this like web, they're able to kind of pinpoint one person who kind of fits. So that's the exact same thing that they did with Bess here. But this is like, obviously, you know, essentially 10 years prior to the Golden State killer. So hey, cheers to DNA testing, I guess. 

Yvette Gentile 33:16

Yeah, yeah. 

Rasha Pecoraro 33:17

Yeah, you know, we've done it. We had we had some done before our mom passed away. Like we have a lot of unanswered questions that we want to find out more about DNA. But yeah, I think you can do good things.

Yvette Gentile 33:29

I do, too. I do too. Yeah. So there's one other thing that I actually want to bring up that number that Trevor said earlier about 200,000, you know, backlogged rape kits, you know, just sitting out there. It's just mind boggling to me that this is still a huge problem. Yeah. So there is some good news. So I think some improvements have started to happen. In recent years, states like Washington, Illinois, and Texas, where this crime took place have made concentrated efforts to improve their backlogs. But sadly, there are still 1000s of untested rape kits just sitting on shelves all across the nation, and along with them unsolved cases of rape and murder. So here's to hoping more states take legislative action in the coming years to address those cases and finally, analyze those kits and get some victims some answers.

Rasha Pecoraro 34:31

I couldn't agree with you more.

Yvette Gentile 34:38

Well, it's time for our Imua, our final message of hope and healing. And we want to dedicate this Imua to the people out there who are working with steadfast determination against injustice in their lives.

Rasha Pecoraro 34:54

Sheila Wysocki didn't work in law enforcement, but she dedicated herself to year years of hard work and years of constantly being told no. But in the end, she finally found justice for her friend.

Yvette Gentile 35:10

And she's still out there today. I mean, apparently she found her calling as a P.I., as a private investigator. And she's continuing to do the work. You know, she thought it was going to be a one time thing to find the killer 

Rasha Pecoraro 35:24

Of her friend. 

Yvette Gentile 35:25

Right for Angela. So bravo to Sheila.

Rasha Pecoraro 35:30

And so if you're working at eradicating injustice somewhere, this goes out to you. We believe that Justice comes through action. And that action can begin with the efforts of just one single human being.

Yvette Gentile 35:44

And it is our hope that one day those efforts pay off and you see justice to onward and upward Imua. Well, that's our show for today. We'd love to hear what you thought about today's discussion. And if there's a case that you'd like for us to cover, find us on social media @facingevilpod or email us at

Rasha Pecoraro 35:56

Imua Until next time, aloha.

Trevor Young 36:44

Facing Evil is a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The show is hosted by Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile. Matt Frederick and Alex Williams, are executive producers on behalf of iHeartRadio with producers Trevor Young and Jessie Funk. Donald Albright and Payne Lindsey are executive producers on behalf of TenderfootTV, alongside producer Tracy Kaplan. Our researcher is Claudia Dafrico. Original Music by Makeup and Vanity set. Find us on social media or email us at For more podcasts from iHeartRadio or Tenderfoot TV, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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