ELYRIA — When Angela Hicks’ body was found in a wooded area near Midway Mall in the summer of 1990, her father, Paul Hicks, held two people responsible for her death: Samuel Legg III and whoever had killed her.
It didn’t take him long to begin to wonder if the two people weren’t one in the same.
Now, 30 years later, Elyria police have re-opened the investigation after Legg was arrested and arraigned last month on rape charges in Medina County in connection with a cold case from 1997 and indicted on murder charges in connection with the death of Sharon Lynn Kedzierski, whose body was found in 1992 at a truck stop in Austintown.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office has said DNA testing linked Legg to other unsolved homicides besides Kedzierski’s.
Legg was a prime suspect in Angela’s death in 1990, but police never were able to get the evidence needed to charge him.
“He was her stepdad and he didn’t take care of my daughter,” Hicks said. “If you marry someone and they have a son or daughter or whatever and you take that blood as yours, you must protect that. You failed to do so, because somebody killed her.”
Hicks served in the military until retiring in 2000. While there, he served as an MP and had experience in conducting investigations, he said.
After Angela’s body was found, he began to question Legg’s involvement in her disappearance.
“Oh yeah, right off the bat,” he said. “There were just some things that seemed off at the scene. As a criminal investigator, you look at things as an objective.”
Hicks and Angela’s mother, Nancy, divorced when their daughter was about 3, Paul Hicks said. He would try to see her when he could, but his ex-wife didn’t really want him to be part of Angela’s life, he said.
“After the divorce, Nancy didn’t give me any visitation. She wouldn’t take any child support,” Paul Hicks said. “I would send money to my mom, and Mom would buy Angie stuff. Mom would know I was coming in, she’d call Nancy and say, ‘Hey, let me have Angie for the weekend.’ We would sneak and see each other.”
But the year of Angela’s death, Angela spent the summer with Hicks while he was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne, he said.
“Angie had stayed the summer with me in ’89,” Hicks said. “I took her crappie fishing. We rolled all summer on my motorcycle. I had just gotten it. It was brand new. We spent the whole summer on the back of that bike. We went everywhere.”
Over that summer, Hicks and Angela talked about the possibility of him getting custody of her.
“When she turned 16, I was going to petition the court for custody of her,” he said. “She was digging it a little bit, being with her daddy.”
The following summer, while Hicks was stationed in Berlin, Germany, he received a call from his mother, who lived in Lorain.
“My mom called me up and told me Angie was missing,” he said. “That’s about all she said. She told me I needed to come home.”
About a month later, Angela’s body was found. Paul Hicks was able to attend his daughter’s funeral, but shortly afterward he was back in Germany.
The fact that no one was ever charged with Angela’s death has haunted Hicks. He said he thinks of her every day.
He has another daughter, Christina Saxby, who was three years younger than Angela.
“Chrissie always thought about Angie, even though they only met when they were little babies,” Hicks said. “She’s always had a connection with Angie. That was her sister, straight up. Never a stepsister or any of that — it was sister.”
At her wedding, Saxby had a seat reserved for Angela, Hicks said. There was a card on the table with Angela’s name on it with a single candle burning.
Hicks said the loss of Angela has been hard on all of them.
When Elyria police told him they had re-opened the investigation into his daughter’s death, he said he didn’t know how to react.
“I was so happy,” he said. “You have to understand, 28 years this has been out there. I’m not sure the word to use. It was just a relief.”
Hicks said he doesn’t think there will ever be closure with the loss of Angela. He just would like Legg to be held accountable for his actions if he was the one responsible.
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