Sheila Gibbons and Angela Samota were an odd match when they were paired up as roommates in their first week of college. Sheila called Angie a “triple threat”: beautiful and intelligent, with a great personality, while she was a shy psychology major who didn’t like to party.
Yet by the end of their freshman year, the girls were inseparable, hoping to be lifelong friends. That was until a couple of years later when one horrible night changed everything…
In 1984, Sheila Gibbons was a 22-year-old who had the world in the palms of her hands. She was a college student living back home with her parents, wondering what to do next.
The Big Game
However, all that changed on one fateful Saturday morning when she was looking forward to attending a football game at her alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Waco. The team had a big game against rivals Baylor and all of her friends would be in attendance…
Friends + Fans
A bunch of Sheila’s college buddies had plans to attend the game that day, including one of her best friends and former college roommate, Angela Samota. It would be a great reunion of friends — or so she thought.
That Saturday morning on October 13, 1984, Sheila remembers being excited when one of her friends called. The night before, several friends in her crew went out for a night of dancing and drinking, even though they had to get up and go to the game…
The phone call came from one of Angie Samota’s sorority sisters, who explained to Sheila that she had never made it to the game. What she learned next made her sick and let out a scream.
Dead On Arrival
Sheila learned that her dear friend Angie wouldn’t be making it to the game that day because she was found dead in her apartment at just 20 years old. Their small town was rocked by the news and Sheila was understandably devastated…
“I remember screaming and crying,” Sheila later told The Washington Post. “The world was never the same.” Poor Angie Samota was found sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed in her apartment, where she died all alone. The killing was so brutal, her murderer practically ripped her heart out and left it sitting on her chest.
Finding The Killer
Dallas Police Department was dead set on finding Angie’s evil murderer and residents feared for the brutal killer on the loose in their area. However, after a few days turned into a few weeks, the initial investigation fell flat and there were few promising leads or suspects…
Finally, years had gone by since Angie Samota’s murder and her case became a cold one. Sheila and Angie’s other friends had moved on in their lives, but she was always left with an upsetting feeling that her friend’s terrible murder had gone unsolved.
There would be no justice for Angie, she thought, and for more than two decades the cold case would go untouched. Sheila Gibbons was now Sheila Wysocki, a wife, and mother who had left Texas and her friend’s murder case far behind…
By 2004, Sheila was living a nice life with her husband and two kids in Nashville, TN, where she was a stay-at-home mom. It had been nearly 20 years since Angie’s death and she hadn’t thought of her much anymore, when something happened that she couldn’t explain.
“I know it sounds crazy,” Sheila Wysocki told PEOPLE Magazine. “I promise you that it sounds crazy to me”. Sheila recalls being in her Nashville home of a regular afternoon when she was frozen with fear at the ghost of her old college roommate…
As Sheila was sitting reading her bible, Angie Samota appeared to her, standing at the edge of her bed. Although the visit was an eerie reminder of the tragic past, Sheila was not afraid. Instead, she believed she knew exactly why her old friend had come back to her so many years later.
In that instant, Sheila had a deep, dark feeling that Angie’s killer was still out there and she knew it was time to find them. Sheila had felt Dallas detectives gave up on the murdered college sophomore and picked up the phone to ask them to reopen the case…
Justice For Angie
The important case files on Angela Samota had been tucked away for two decades but detectives told Sheila that some cases just aren’t meant to be solved. But she didn’t care. “I thought, ‘Well, this one’s going to be,’” she told the Washington Post.
Sheila Wysocki then took matters into her own hands by digging through the old files and tracking down evidence she was told was gone forever. She set up a “war room” in her home to go over the facts and even got her license as a private investigator in hopes that the police officers would take her seriously…
“I think when they found that out, they knew I wasn’t going away,” Wysocki told the Washington Post about becoming a P.I. “So did it help? I don’t know, but it was a turning point.” Sheila flew to Dallas and went over all the details, ruling out Angie’s boyfriend at the time, and even met with the main suspect, a man named Russell Buchanan who was with her the night of her murder.
Two years and about 750 phone calls later, Sheila finally made a breakthrough in the case in 2006 when Dallas Detective Linda Crum pulled out the old DNA evidence and found a match. “She said, ‘We got him,’” Wysocki said. She thought it was Buchanan and was stunned to hear the DNA matched a man named Donald Bess…
“I was thinking, ‘I can’t place this guy. Who is that?’”, Sheila told investigators, assuming it was someone from her old crowd who knew Angie. Instead, Bess was a convicted rapist who was out on parole when he brutally assaulted and murdered Angie in 1984. He was already been serving a life sentence for another sexual assault. Now, he would stand on trial for capital murder in the death of Angela Samota 22 years earlier.
On the first day of the trial, Sheila and her family, as well as Angie’s friends, family members, and former sorority sisters were all in attendance. And every day after that, Sheila sat and waited until Bess was convicted of murder and received capital punishment. “I cried,” Sheila said. “Nothing changes — you still have someone who’s dead, you still have someone who murdered her, you still have a world that’s changed.” The difference is that this time, justice will be served. Bess currently waits for his execution date on death row.