Cold County Part 3: The Disappearance of Angela Fullmer
Then 34-year-old Angela "Angie" Fullmer allegedly went out for a drive with her ex-boyfriend on Dec. 15, 2002.
She hasn't been seen since.
"It's like a hole in your heart. It's the worst pain I've ever felt in my life," said Becky Mendoza, Angie's mother.
Though the case is heading into it's 17th year, Becky vividly remembers the moment she found out her daughter was in danger.
Tom O'Connell, the man who at one point dated Angie, came to her door with eyes "as wide as saucers."
"'I've lost Angie," he told her.
According to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office, O'Connell reported Angie missing-- but not until 12 hours after he said he last saw her. Statements taken by investigators reveal the two were at some kind of party prior to taking a drive in the Twin Pines area near Lake Siskiyou.
Anee Mendoza, Angie's older sister, said Angie met up with O'Connell after getting into a fight with her boyfriend. Angie's family said they didn't know O'Connell well, but they knew he was a frequent drug user. "We just know that she went over there and obviously partied with him," she said.
O'Connell told police he and Angie had gotten into an argument over mud being tracked into his truck. He said she walked away, and not long after, he heard a car door slam and drive away-- leading him to believe that she had gotten into someone else's car.
"And really that version is what we got from Mr. O'connell, so we don't even know for certain if that chain of events actually occurred," said Siskiyou CountySheriff Jon Lopey. "He's definitely a person of interest, because he was the last one to see her alive."
Angie lived in Mt. Shasta at the time of her disappearance. She was the youngest of three sisters and the mother of six children, one of which was adopted by a family in Yreka.
After Angie was reported missing, police thought she could still could still be walking near the lake. A search party was sent to look for her, but a white-out hampered those efforts. Now this far into the investigation, the Sheriff's Office has a different mentality.
"We think that Angela is deceased, and we think that she died at the hands of another," said Lopey.
Last year, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office assigned a detective part-time to focus on Angie's case.
And in what the Sheriff calls a recent development, the FBI has been enlisted to conduct forensic testing of related evidence. When asked if that could be considered a break in the case, Sheriff Lopey said "it could be," but was unable to divulge any further information.
According to Lopey, investigators are also looking into a behavioral health profile of a possible suspect. All together, he estimates that the case is 75 percent completed.
But after more than 16 years, Angie's family wants answers.
"I remember smelling her pajamas, just picking them up and just smelling them and trying to find her in my head and in my heart," said Becky.
"There's always a little bit of hope, even though I know that she's gone," she said. "I believe that he [O'Connell] killed her."
Angie's family said it would have been completely unlike her to willingly leave home and not come back.
At the time of her disappearance, she already had Christmas gifts wrapped under the tree for her daughters, who, after her disappearance, stayed primarily with Becky.
There is a $2,500 reward for any information leading to the conviction in Angie's case. That reward amount could be increased to $5,000.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to come forward. Even small details are valuable, they said.
Reports can be made with the office’s 24-hour dispatch call center at (530) 841-2900. Anonymous tips are also accepted.