True Crime

True Crime Wednesday: What Happened to Angela Hamby of Wilkesboro, N.C.?

Angela Hamby

What happened to a young woman named Angela Hamby, who went missing from Wilkesboro, North Carolina on October 29, 1982, remains a mystery.

By all accounts, Angela was a homebody. She had graduated from West Wilkes High School in 1980, and was living at home with her parents and working at a job in data processing at the local NCNB Bank. She was also enrolled at Wilkes Community College, with the hopes of eventually transferring to Appalachian State University. On the day she went missing, Angela had errands planned for the morning, and then she and her mother and sister were going to drive to nearby Elkin to do some shopping. She left her home around 9:30 a.m. On her list of things to do was get gas for her car that was almost empty, make a car payment for her 1980 Mazda RX7, conduct a deposit for her mother at the bank where she also worked, and then pick up her sister Cheryl who lived in town so they could all enjoy the day shopping together. But around 11:45 a.m., Cheryl called their mother Shirley. Angela had never arrived to pick her up. Shirley told Charlotte Observer reporter John York that she then called the bank, and found that Angela had never made it there, either. She drove downtown to see if she could see any sign of her daughter or her car, but found nothing.

Her husband Jerry had gone on a hunting trip to South Carolina and she wanted to call him then and there, but made herself wait until she had more information about what may have happened to Angela. After waiting until the next day, Fri., October 30, Shirley Hamby called the police. Around 1 a.m. on that Saturday morning, the Wilkesboro police found Angela’s beloved silver Mazda RX7 parked behind the Tastee Freeze restaurant in town, near the garbage dumpsters. The car was unlocked. Inside, police found her purse and driver’s license. Missing was the money she had been carrying with her and her car keys. A witness later told police they had seen Angela driving her car in the area of that location on the morning she went missing, around 11:30 a.m. She was reportedly with a man with long blonde hair and appeared to be talking to him.

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Angela’s parents knew she wouldn’t have just walked away from her car. Where would she have gone? The printed up missing persons flyers and began distributing them in the area and surrounding states. They scraped together money from a loan to offer a $10,000 reward and the state of North Carolina kicked in an additional $5,000.

I found an article that ran on April 10, 1987 that mentioned investigators had suspected two South Carolina brothers, Michael Ryan Torrence and Thomas John Torrence of possibly being involved with Angela’s disappearance. Here’s a little backstory on the Torrences. In early February of 1987, a woman named Donna Torrence, who was 19, was working as a stripper at a club in the Columbia, South Carolina area. She was married to Michael Ryan Torrence, and after she told him and his brother Thomas about two men she had met at the club, they concocted a murderous scheme.

Donna arranged to meet up with the two men, who were engineers staying at a local motel in Columbia while on business. She then asked one of the men, 31-year-old Charles Bush, to drive her home. After they arrived at her house, she invited him inside, where Michael and Thomas ambushed Charles and beat and choked him to death. Then they went back to the motel, got into the room using the key Charles had on him, and murdered his co-worker Dennis Lollis. The motive for these murders appeared to be robbery.

About a month later, Michael Torrence murdered a 20-year-old prostitute named Cynthia Williams in Charleston. They had been romantically involved and he allegedly shot her during an argument. When the Torrence brothers were arrested at their home in Lexington, South Carolina, investigators found a newspaper clipping about Angela Hamby’s disappearance in an old family album. They wondered if the two had been involved in Angela’s disappearance, but eventually they determined both brothers were in jail on October 29, 1982, when Angela mysteriously vanished. Michael Torrence was eventually convicted of his crimes and was executed in South Carolina in 1986; his brother is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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When Angela Hamby went missing, she was five feet four inches tall and weighed around 108 pounds. She was wearing a cream-colored v-neck sweater under a pale purple sweater, blue jeans, socks, sandals, a diamond and sapphire ring, and a gold add-a-bead necklace. She had blonde hair and blue/green eyes, and also went by the name Angie. Anyone with information on this case should contact the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department at 336-838-9111.

This information appeared on Episode 36 of the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. To hear the full episode, click here.

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