LAGRANGE — Nikki Myers secured a seat in a Medina County courtroom Thursday — determined to witness Samuel Legg III being arraigned on rape charges in connection with a 1997 case.
As she sat there, Myers was thinking about her best friend, Angela Hicks, whom Myers has believed for years was killed by Legg in 1990.
“I didn’t say anything. I was there when they were bringing him in. I was pretty close to him,” Myers said. “He looked at me, and I looked at him. He knew who I was, and he just looked at the ground.
“Even if he was not to be charged (in connection to Angela’s death), it was good today to see his ass in handcuffs and a jumpsuit. Even if he (doesn’t do any) time, just knowing that you’re where you should be — you’re exactly where you deserve to be. That was good.”
Myers said she and Angela were best friends, maybe even soul mates. Growing up, they played with Barbie dolls together. As they grew older, they would watch movies and “just hang out.”
“We did hair and makeup and just what teenage girls do — talk about boys, tell secrets, you know, that type of stuff,” Myers said. “We were just friends. She loved to crack jokes. She was a goofball. She liked to watch movies.”
Myers said one of Angela’s favorite movies was “Dirty Dancing.”
But on July 21, 1990, Angela went missing. Since that day, Myers has never had a doubt about who was responsible for Angela’s disappearance: Legg.
“Always. I’ve always known it was him,” she said. “From the day after she was missing, and I went to their apartment and none of her shoes were gone, I knew. I knew she died in that apartment, and I knew it was him. No doubt.”
At one point in the investigation, police believed Angela may have run away from home. Myers never bought it.
“I knew she didn’t run away because we had always talked,” Myers said. “She was like my sister and we would always say stuff like, ‘If I ever run away, you better come get me.’ Neither of us ever intended to run away, but we wouldn’t leave the other behind. If she had (run away), she would have come to me. She would have come to my house.”
Angela’s body was found near a dilapidated barn south of Midway Mall on Sept. 21, 1990.
Police suspected Legg but were never able to come up with the evidence needed to charge him in connection with Angela’s death. Eventually the case turned cold.
Myers, though, never gave up hope. In fact, she began doing her own investigation.
“I have papers where I’ve followed him,” she said. “I’ve known where he lived. I know businesses he owned. I’ve looked up police records of where he’s been to see if there’s any link. There wasn’t enough evidence in her case, and they needed something to go further.”
As time passed, she figured eventually more DNA evidence would turn up, believing “there’s got to be something there.” If nothing else, she assumed Legg would slip up and talk to someone about Angela’s death, and things would “catch up with him.”
She also wanted to keep the memory of her friend alive.
“I’ve always had hope,” Myers said. “I’ve never stopped trying. I always try to do something to put it out there, keep it out there and keep her face out there. There’s a lot of people that don’t know about her because it happened in 1990.”
Over the years, it became harder and harder to keep her hopes up. Last year, Myers was interviewed by the FBI about the Amy Mihaljevic case, where a 10-year-old girl from Bay Village was kidnapped and murdered 1989. The Mihaljevic case recently was part of a three-hour television special.
Myers said that she began to lose hope when thinking of the Bay Village case.
“Everybody was so focused on that, and Angie’s wasn’t as highly publicized as Amy’s was,” she said.
Even with all of the attention it has received over the years, Mihaljevic’s murder is unsolved, which caused Myers to believe Angela’s case might never be solved either.
During the recent television special on Mihaljevic, though, Angela’s case was mentioned, Myers said. Suddenly, she was reinvigorated.
“I felt like everybody had forgot about her. I started crying, and I said I’m going to put her face back out there,” Myers said. “I realized that I have to keep going. I made her a Facebook page after that aired.”
Myers created the page Jan. 1 and then, six weeks later, she got a call from her mother, who lives in Florida.
“My mom called me and said, ‘Honey, they got him! They got him!” Myers said. “I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘They got Sam. They got him and he’s going to go away.’”
Since Legg was brought to Medina County, Myers hasn’t slept.
“I’m afraid that if I fall asleep, I’m going to wake up and this is all going to be a dream, and it’s not going to be real,” she said. “I just feel like I need to stay up to see this through.”
The alleged details about what Legg has been doing since 1990 have shaken Myers. In addition to the Medina rape case, Legg was indicted Thursday on murder charges in Austintown, Ohio. Elyria police reopened its investigation into Angela’s death, and Legg’s name also has been linked to at least two other unsolved homicides.
“I guess I had always given him the benefit of the doubt that maybe her homicide, her murder, was an accident,” Myers said. “Maybe I did it a little for myself to think that she didn’t suffer. That was how I dealt with it for the time. Hearing the new alleged charges, I was taken aback.”
Myers said she hopes Nancy Hicks, Angela’s mother, finally gets some closure after all these years.
“That was her only child. They were best friends. They were always together,” Myers said. “She deserves to know what happened. I know she’s always had her doubts about him and suspicions that it was him. We all did, but proving it was another thing, unfortunately.”
What closure for Myers will look like is another story. She’s struggled with not being able to see Angela’s body at the funeral, which caused some doubt for her as a teenager about whether Angela had really died.
“I knew she was gone; they said she was gone and it was her by her dental records,” Myers said. “I knew in my mind she was, but I always had the hope of what if it really wasn’t her? It’s hard to let go of that hope, even though you know.”
She believes there could be peace in finally knowing.
“I didn’t get that closure of seeing her, so this now is just going to be … I don’t know,” she said. “I just hope I’ll be able to suck it all in when it’s over and done and say, ‘You can just let her go. You can let her rest. She’s good now. She’s good. She’s at peace.’”
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