Deadly Obsession

A family tragedy unmasks a killer's secret past


At the time, Angela was 15 and Charlie was 13. They lived with their parents and two younger sisters in Fort Wayne, Ind.

It was just after 9 p.m., and Angela was reading in her room. "My mom was in a bath and my dad was shaving. And I heard my father yell, 'Charlie don't' or 'Charlie stop!' " Angela tells Hemmert.

"Charlie walked into a bathroom while his father was shaving. Shot him in the back. He went down. He stood over her mother, she was in a bathtub, bathing and fired several rounds into her body and killed her. She was eight months pregnant," says Hemmert.

"The last thing I remember hearing my mom say was 'Angela, call the police,' " she tells Hemmert in the taped interview.

But Angela had no time. She told Hemmert that after shooting their mother, Charlie had turned the gun on her but that it wouldn't fire. "The next thing she knew they were physically fighting," Hemmert says.

She said she tried desperately to calm her brother down by telling him how much she loved him. "I saw the madness, the glazed over look. I saw it disappear," Angela tells Hemmert.

With her brother calmed down, Angela ran out of the house screaming in her bloody, torn nightgown. She ran through the snow to her neighbor's home and pounded on the front door, startling then-16-year-old Sandi Radcliffe.

But by the time Sandi got to the door, Angela had already headed to another house; instead, it was Charlie waiting outside. "There was just a 'knock, knock' and I opened up the door and he goes, 'Sandi, I just shot my mom and dad,' " she recalls.

Newspaper reports of the murder were sketchy; it was portrayed as a freakish crime by a quiet kid — the last kid on earth, friends said, who would shoot anyone, much less kill his mother.

"That's why this whole incident was such a shock because they were very close, incredibly so. He was a momma's boy," says Sandi.

Only a few crime scene photos survive in the Fort Wayne police archives. Dan Figel, then a young detective, was in charge of the investigation. When the call came, he remembers hurrying to the hospital, hoping that Charlie's critically wounded father would survive and be able to explain what had happened.

"He just kept saying, 'I don't know why my son did this. I have no idea as to why my son did this,'" Figel remembers.

But he did confirm that his son had done it, and Figel proceeded to take the boy into custody. "He was in shock. His eyes were dilated and he couldn't understand why he had done this," says Figel.