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College Student Murdered At 20: Why Was Angela Samota Killed?

It is often argued that humans are not innately good or bad, and they are solely the products of their circumstances, and it is often out of their power to decide what they will become. But every once a while, there comes a case that puts even the most vocal idealists on the back foot, and they accept that there is no redemption for some human beings. 

It takes something more than a bad life to become someone who inflicts unspeakable pain on another person. It takes pre-meditation, cold-blooded desire, and the character to make that decision and act on it. That is why acts of pre-meditated violence are the most disgusting; because they are sadistic, and committed by a person in full control of his mental and physical faculties. 

The murder of Angela Samota at the hands of Donald Andrew Bess in 1984 is a story of similar proportions.

How The fateful Night Began

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It was a cool night in Dallas on the 11th of October 1984, when 20-year-old Angela left her apartment to hang out with her friends, Russel Buchanan and Anita Kadala. She also invited her boyfriend Ben McCall, but since he was a construction worker and had work early the next morning, he declined the invitation. Thus, the three friends headed towards Lakewood’s Boardwalk Beach Club to enjoy the weather and have some drinks. 

Later on, they got into another club called the Rio Room, where they drank and danced, enjoying each other’s company. There is nothing strange about this story up till this point. It sounds like the life of a young person in college, having fun in all the things that life has to offer and living in the moment. But, sadly, this is where the story of young adult happiness takes a dark turn.


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The Story Takes A Sinister Turn

Angela dropped off Russel at his home, and then it was just her and Anita. Anita was supposed to spend the night with her, but fatefully, there was a last-minute change of plans since Angela informed her that she wanted to see a football match early in the morning.

Angela dropped her friend at her dorm and went to her boyfriend’s apartment to say goodnight. She then went home, until suddenly, at 1:45 am in the dead of the night, her boyfriend, Ben, received a call from her. “Talk to me”, she said nervously to Ben. She struggled for words as she tried to continue, and started rambling. Prompted by a sudden noise in the background, Ben finally asked her what was going on. She told him that she had let a man into her home to use her telephone and bathroom. She then proceeded to ask Ben if there was a payphone or store in the vicinity where the man could fulfill his needs, to which Ben replied that yes, there was indeed was. She then cut the call, saying that she would contact him later as she called out to the man to tell him what Ben had told her.

The Murder Of Angela Samota

Ben, however, never heard from Angela again. He got increasingly scared when she did not pick up his calls and drove over to her apartment. He repeatedly knocked on her door to no avail. 

Remembering the information he had given her, he went to the convenience store and payphone to look around for her, but he found nothing. At last, he dialed 911. The police arrived and broke down the door to Angela’s apartment, where they found her completely naked and spread-eagled on her bed with multiple stab wounds in her chest and abdomen. It was highly apparent that she had been raped and murdered, which was proven by the autopsy report. 

The report showed that the merciless killer had stabbed her repeatedly, about 18 times until she finally succumbed to her wounds. The initial suspect of the police was her friend Russel. Since DNA technology at the time was not advanced enough, they could not exactly trace back the DNA samples found on Angela’s body directly to the victim. 

They repeatedly harassed Russel, trying to get him to confess to the crime, but he maintained that he was innocent. Since police could not find any tangible evidence tying him to the case, they had to let him go. 

With no other suspects in sight and no means of finding a new trial, the case started to get cold and was eventually closed.

Justice Delayed Is Better Than Justice Denied

Angela's closest friend, Sheila Wysocki, shared a dorm room with Angela before her death. She recounted to BBC news about Angela and said, “She was the triple threat – great personality, real cute and smart.” 

After the death of Angela, the police obviously questioned her, too, and made her go through the day to day life of Angela, and even showed her the very traumatic crime scene photos, something she remembers to this day. However, nothing she said could help them, and Sheila had to live with the fact that the murderer of her best friend would probably never be found. 

20 years after the crime had been committed, however, Sheila had a vision that brought back all the gruesome memories of Angela’s death, and it urged to pursue the case again. She is said to have called the police station “700 times.” Upon her insistence the case was reopened, and using the advanced DNA technology, the criminal was found to be Donald Bess. He was a serial rapist who had already been sentenced to life. 

The murder and rape of Angela being tracked back to him, however, was the final nail in his coffin, and in less than a week he was given the death sentence by the jury.

After nearly two decades, Angela and her loved ones got their justice. We can hope that the closure gave her friends and family some peace, and helped them to finally move on with their lives.

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