ST. LOUIS (AP) — A trial date was set Monday for a convicted pedophile accused of raping and killing a 9-year-old Missouri girl in 1993.
Earl Webster Cox, 62, was arrested in June, nearly 26 years after Angie Housman’s death. St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said previously undetected DNA found on the child’s clothing implicated Cox.
Cox was in court in St. Charles for a brief hearing, during which Judge Jon Cunningham set the trial date for April 12, 2021. Lohmar has not said if he will seek the death penalty.
Angie disappeared after exiting her school bus on Nov. 18, 1993, near her home in St. Ann, a St. Louis suburb. Hundreds of volunteers joined police in searches, but Angie’s body was found nine days later by a deer hunter at the August A. Busch Wildlife area, about 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) west of St. Louis, in St. Charles County.
Investigators said she had been sexually assaulted, starved and handcuffed, and that she died just hours before she was found. Lohmar said her head was covered in duct tape except for her nose and that she had tried hard to free herself.
The St. Louis region went into a panic just weeks later when another young girl, 10-year-old Cassidy Senter, who lived just a few miles from Angie, went missing. Cassidy was later found dead in a St. Louis alley.
Investigators feared that a child serial killer was on the loose before determining that Cassidy’s killer was one of her neighbors, who was eliminated as a suspect in Angie’s death.
The Angie Housman case broke in February 2019 when investigators found previously undetected DNA on her Barbie-themed underwear that was found at the crime scene. The DNA matched Cox’s, found in a national database.
Cox was living in Ferguson, a suburb near St. Ann, when Angie was abducted. He had relatives who lived near Angie’s school and home.
He has been in custody for years because the state of Missouri deemed him a sexually dangerous person likely to re-offend if freed.
Cox was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force in 1982 after being convicted of molesting four young girls for whom he babysat while stationed )in Germany. He was paroled in 1985 and returned to the St. Louis area, where he was questioned in at least two reported instances of child molestation in the four years before Angie’s killing.
At some point during the 1990s, Cox moved to Colorado. In January 2003, he set up a meeting with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl whom he had asked to become his sex slave. It turned out to be an undercover federal agent.
Police seized about 45,000 images of child pornography from his computer and discovered that Cox led an international online child pornography ring known as the “Shadowz Brotherhood.” The subsequent investigation led to the arrest of about 60 people in 11 countries.
Cox was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Before he was scheduled for release in 2011, Cox was certified as a sexually dangerous person, which allowed authorities to keep him incarcerated even after he completed his sentence because he was considered likely to re-offend.
Cox also is awaiting trial on sodomy charges in an unrelated case for allegedly molesting a 7-year-old girl in St. Louis County in 1989.