Suspect in 2015 double homicide behind bars in Orange County

Aaron Kyle Angelo

The double murder of 83-year-old Richard Ames and 85-year-old Edna Phillips, who were violently stabbed to death at Ames' Vidor home in 2015, shocked and appalled the small community with the police chief at the time, Dave Shows, describing the killings as "the most senseless, brutal murders" he'd ever seen as a longtime law enforcer.

On Aug. 11, the Orange County District Attorney John Kimbrough reported that a Grand Jury has returned an indictment charging the sole suspect in the murders, Ames' former stepson Aaron Kyle Angelo, 52, with Capital Murder. 

June 11, 2015, dispatchers received a call at 11:04 p.m. that two deceased persons were inside a residence in the 300 block of Timberlane. Upon entering the residence, respoding officers discovered a grisly scene. They saw an elderly male and an elderly female displaying multiple stab wounds dead inside the home. 

Multiple agencies responded to the residence to assist in the investigation and to process the crime scene. In the days following the murder, they found and investigated several leads, enlisting the public’s help in finding Ames' missing 2006 Chevrolet pickup truck. The vehicle was ultimately recovered in Houston after it had been involved in a single-vehicle accident rollover where it was destroyed.

Evidence remained, however. Police recovered DNA from the steering wheel and other parts of the truck and found a match. It was “conclusively” Angelo’s DNA, police reported in 2016. Police then identified Angelo as the sole suspect in the double murder investigation, as well as the auto theft. But police were still waiting for DNA from the crime scene, so Angelo was arrested and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle April 29, 2016. His bond was set at a whopping $500,000, considered a high bond for the charge.

Another year elapsed, and still no charges had been filed in the gruesome murders. In July, the Orange County Jail confirmed Angelo was no longer being held there. So, wondered concerned Vidor citizens, where was he? And, would Ames and Phillips ever get justice?

Last month, current Vidor Police Chief Rod Carroll revealed Angelo was still in custody and at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. He soothed fears that the case had fallen through the cracks, and asserted Angelo would face charges for the murders pending DNA results, which he indicated still remained outstanding. 

“We are still waiting on the DNA results,” Chief Carroll explained then. He also said that staff at the psychiatric hospital would be working with the Angelo to make sure he is competent to stand trial. 

DA Kimbrough said DNA labs across the nation had started changing methodology around the time of the Ames-Phillips double murder, which was why it took so long to get the labs back. 

"Right around the time this happened, DNA labs nationwide were going through this change in how they report mixtures, when there’s two people’s DNA mixed and that type of (situation)," he explained. Basically, DPS lab and a lot of labs were… not producing reports for a period of time. So, that was part of it.  

He also indicated that there were "a lot of forensics on this case" because the massive amount of evidence collected at the murder scene and beyond all had to be analyzed. According to him, it was investigators' tireless efforts that ultimately sewed up the case, allowing the district attorney to present a complete file to the grand jury. 

"There was some very, very good investigative work done in this case – really good work by the Texas Rangers and the DA investigator. Really, it’s phenomenal if you look back at some of the stuff that they did – where they had to go and what they had to do. We’re looking forward to getting this thing moving along."

Pertaining to Angelo's mental state, Kimbrough allowed that prosecutors will have to deal with the suspect's "compentency issues," but added that those issues do not exempt him from prosecution or responsibility for his actions. 

"We’re going to have to work through some of those issues," he said. "It’s not completely unusual. Mental illness is not a defense."

He further explained that many mental disorders are treatable and having a mental illness does not give one free reign to commit murder or other acts of violence. 

"Prisons are full of mentally ill people, and there’s nothing wrong with that," he said. 

Following the Capital Murder indictment, Angelo was arrested on the charge and taken to the Orange County Jail, where he currently remains. His bond was set at $1 million. If convicted of Capital Murder, Angelo faces life in prison with no possibility of parole or the death penalty.