By: Stephanie Butzer
BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KMGH) — A man whose murder case was dismissed in 2010 was once again charged with second-degree murder last month in connection with a Colorado cold case.
On Thursday, John Michael Angerer, 53, was arrested in Anchorage, Alaska in connection with the death of Angela Josephine Wilds in 2006. Angerer faces a second-degree murder charge.
The case began on June 4, 2006, when a pair of hikers found Wilds’ nude body in the South Saint Vrain Canyon along Highway 7, about 3.3 miles outside of Lyons. Her body was badly decomposing, according to the 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
The district attorney’s office said a large predator appeared to have dragged her body from a shallow grave 20 feet away, where investigators found a pair of yellow ski pants, a sleeping bag and a pillow in a pillowcase, all neatly folded, according to an indictment.
According to that document, about 50 pounds of a “white powdery substance containing calcium oxide (‘quicklime’) was located on the body as well as in and around the gravesite, to a depth of approximately 14 inches.”
She did not have any identification on her.
Three days after her body was discovered, a coroner conducted an autopsy, which resulted in an unknown cause and manner of death, according to the indictment. The coroner determined she had been deceased for at least a few weeks and possibly up to several months. Her body had evidence of animal predation, but lacked any gunshot wounds, broken bones or stab wounds. The coroner noted that he could not rule out strangulation, but her body was in an advanced state of decomposition, according to the indictment.
After several months, she still remained unidentified.
In October of that year, a woman reached out to the Longmont Police Department to report that she hadn’t seen her friend in a long time. She identified her friend as “Angie Wilder.” With this information, investigators were able to identify a person named Angela Wilds who had ties to the Longmont area. The friend provided a physical description of Wilds, which matched the body found in the canyon, according to the indictment.
In November of 2006, DNA analysis comparing rib bones from the body with four of Wilds’ sisters confirmed the deceased woman as Wilds. She was 38 years old when she died.
Between then and 2009, Wilds’ DNA was found on the ski pants from the scene, along with an unknown male contributor on the pants, the sleeping bag and pillowcase, the indictment reads.
On Jan. 22, 2009, detectives received a possible match for that male DNA. A couple months later, a buccal swab from Angerer was compared to the items recovered from the scene and his DNA was determined to be “the major contributor profile” on the pillowcase and in the sleeping bag, as reported in the indictment.
Armed with both names, investigators were able to look into any connections between Wilds and Angerer. They found that several people had reported seeing them together in late 2005 and early 2006, according to the indictment.
On Aug. 26, 2009, Angerer was interviewed by a detective with the Anchorage Police Department. Angerer reported that in February or March of 2006, he had attended a dive school in Texas and then gone to Colorado, living in Cañon City, Longmont and Monte Vista until July 2006. He said he moved to Alaska that August.
During the interview, Angerer claimed he did not know anybody by the name of Angie or Angela. When shown her photo, he said he did not recognize her, according to the indictment.
He was again interviewed that September by the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, where he again denied knowing a person named Angie or Angela. He also denied camping in the South Saint Vrain area around the time of the crime.
According to the indictment, members of his family said Angerer frequently visited a cave in the South Saint Vrain area and hiked and camped around it. The cave was off Highway 7, about three or four miles from Lyons, according to his parents. His sister recalled dropping him off in the area where Wilds’ body was later found, the document reads.
Investigators drafted an arrest warrant for Angerer, which was authorized by a judge, and then in 2010, he was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported on March 5, 2010 that Angerer was serving time in an Alaska prison for a probation violation charge when authorities issued the warrant for his arrest.
His preliminary hearing was held on July 12, 2010. However after this hearing, a judge determined that probable cause did not support the charge and the case was dismissed.
The following summer, the Colorado Supreme Court decided not to review the judge’s decision, the AP reported.
After the preliminary hearing, several people who knew Angerer described him as “volatile” and one witness reported seeing him try to strangle one of his ex-girlfriends, according to the indictment.
For the past few years, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office and district attorney’s office — with help from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation — continued to work on this case, interviewing new witnesses and consulting with forensic pathologists. This included previous girlfriends who said Angerer tried to strangle them and was “frightening” and “jealous and possessive,” according to the indictment.
One witness said “that certain women’s names, including ‘Angela’ would send Angerer into a rage,” the document reads.
In 2015, a pathologist reviewed the case and determined Wilds’ cause of death was homicidal violence, though it was still not clear how she was killed. He said he took the investigative findings into account, including that Wilds was found nude, in a secluded wooded area, and covered with lime. Ultimately, he said “an asphyxia event was most likely,” according to the indictment.
At the time of this determination, the pathologist was not aware of the previously alleged incidents of strangulation against Angerer.
As a result of recent years’ work, authorities took this “significant and new evidence” and presented its findings to a grand jury, the district attorney’s office said.
On Feb. 16, 2023, that grand jury returned an indictment for second-degree murder.
The indictment was sealed until Angerer was taken into custody in Alaska on March 9.
His bond was set at $1 million.
“I am proud that our detectives didn’t give up on this cold case. We know Angela’s family has been waiting a long time for this day to come,” said Boulder County Sheriff Curtis Johnson. “Her family is in our thoughts as we take the next steps in the judicial process.”
A timeline for his extradition was not yet available.
This story was originally published March 13 by KMGH in Denver, an E.W. Scripps Company.