Suspect in Vidor double murder behind bars on related charges

Suspect in Vidor double murder behind bars on related charges

An unsolved murder case in Vidor is one step closer to resolution after the stepson of one of the victims was arrested April 29 and is behind bars in Orange County on related charges while police wait for further DNA testing.

The gruesome double murder of 83-year-old Richard Ames and 85-year-old Edna Phillips of Vidor on June 11, 2015, rocked the normally peaceful community. Initial reports from police revealed that Vidor Police Department (VPD) dispatchers received a call at 11:04 p.m. of two deceased persons at a residence in the 300 block of Timberlane. Upon arrival at the scene, officers observed an elderly male and an elderly female dead inside the home, apparently having suffered multiple stab wounds.

“It was obvious that both persons had been violently murdered,” stated the original news release from police.

VPD Chief Dave Shows said the slayings were among the most savage he has seen during his many years in law enforcement.

“These are … senseless, brutal murders,” Shows said in an interview May 4.

Multiple agencies responded to the residence to assist in the investigation and to process the bloody crime scene, and several leads were followed. Police also enlisted the public’s help, letting it be known they were searching for a gray 2006 Chevrolet four-door  pickup truck with a bed cover, license plate CA9-1850, registered to victim Richard Ames.

“When we started looking for the vehicle,” Shows recalled, “we put out a nationwide broadcast about the vehicle and entered it into the NCIC/TCIC system as stolen. That vehicle ended up being recovered in Houston after it had been involved in a single-vehicle accident rollover where the vehicle was destroyed.

“We call that ‘a clue’ in police work.”

Numerous DNA samples were taken from the truck, technicians making sure to collect samples from anything in the cab the driver may have touched.

In addition, Shows, Vidor police detectives and a multi-agency team of investigators interviewed family, friends and acquaintances, doing their due diligence to try to discover the killer’s identity. They collected evidence along the way, including DNA swabs from certain parties to check against DNA collected at the house where the victims were slain and from the wrecked pickup truck. The team even traveled to Houston to obtain a DNA sample from Ames’ former stepson, 51-year-old Aaron Kyle Angelo.

It took some time, but once the DNA results from the pickup truck came back from the lab, officers believed they had their man – Angelo.

“We got the DNA back from the pickup truck, and lo and behold, Mr. Angelo’s DNA is in the pickup truck,” said Shows.

He said the DNA was “conclusively” Angelo’s, and that bit of evidence allowed officers to arrest the suspect for driving a stolen vehicle.

“We got the DNA back from the truck, and we felt it was time for him not to be walking around,” said Shows. “He is currently charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.”

Shows said he is awaiting the final DNA results from the remaining samples before presenting any other possible charges against Angelo to Orange County District Attorney John Kimbrough in order to ensure the case is solid and the suspect who is ultimately accused of murder is convicted.

“This case has gotten to the point where we are letting the evidence we collected lead the investigation – period,” said Shows. “We’re not surmising or guessing anything. … We are going to let the DNA evidence lead the investigation, and we’re waiting.”

Shows said Angelo lived in Vidor previously, but more than two decades ago, from his knowledge. At the time of the murders, he was homeless.

He is being held at the Orange County Jail on a $500,000 bond, making it unlikely he will get out until he faces the auto theft charges he is currently jailed on – and giving police time to get back the DNA samples taken from the murder scene.

According to information from the victims’ obituaries, Ames and Phillips were longtime companions and led active, happy lives. Ames was reportedly “an avid radio control (RC) airplane modeler who enjoyed being around his friends in the airplane club.” Phillips was a volunteer at Baptist Hospital for 20 years. She reportedly “loved to travel and was very devoted to her immediate family and extended family.” Their funerals were held simultaneously at Memorial Funeral Home of Vidor last year.

Shows said Ames was a retired machinist who built engines for the model RC planes he loved to operate.

“He was a master machinist for years,” Shows said. “He had a small machine shop set up at his home in the back in another building. He actually built his own aircraft engines for his model planes. … We’re talking about a guy who was a genius to do something with that precision on such a small scale.”

Shows said he believes the couple resided at Phillips’ home on Doty Road before their deaths, and suggested Ames was likely visiting his shop the day of the murders.