Two years later, family still seeks answers in Vicksburg woman’s death

Published 11:52 pm Saturday, November 25, 2006

It’s been two years since Angela Schultz Shiers Barrentine went missing, and a relative who helped find her body in a truck in the Big Black River wants resolution for the woman’s 11-year-old daughter.

“I am raising her child, and I don’t know what to tell her,” Stacy Hartley, Barrentine’s sister, said. “She’s had a lot of questions. She wants to know what happened to her mama. She misses her mama.”

What later proved to be Barrentine’s body was pulled from a 1997 Ford F-150 truck the night of Aug. 2, 2005, about eight months after she was last seen Thanksgiving Day 2004.

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Hartley said living the past two years with the ongoing investigation into Barrentine’s death has been “really bad.”

“Everybody knows what it’s like to lose a loved one,” she said. “But not everyone knows what it’s like to lose a loved one (when) they don’t know what happened.”

There’s no indication how the truck left the road and went into the river, but her sister says authorities are clear that they suspect foul play, and she’s sure her sister wouldn’t have taken her own life.

Barrentine, then 27, was last seen in Edwards, which is in Hinds County, near Belknap and Military roads driving and alone in the pickup. She was supposed to be at her grandparents’ house that day for dinner. When she did not show, family members alerted the Vicksburg Police Department that she was missing.

About a month later, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said, his department was asked by the family to get involved. The Hinds County Sheriff’s Department joined the case when the investigation showed Barrentine was last seen in Edwards.

“From Day 1, this investigation led to Hinds County,” Pace said. “She was seen there, and we can prove that. Hinds County has been an important role since early in this investigation.”

Calls to Sgt. Eddie Robinson of the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department went unanswered.

“As you know, her body was found in the Big Black River, which is the border between Hinds and Warren,” Pace said. “In the end, when this case is solved, as I am confident it will be, whether it will be Hinds or Warren is yet to be seen.

Hartley said Crime Stoppers has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or arrests in the case. Another $4,000 in reward money is being offered from private donations, Hartley said.

Barrentine was a resident of 137 Cain Ridge Road. She was listed as missing until her truck was pulled from the Big Black about a half-mile south of U.S. 80.

Hartley called that night “a nightmare.”

“That was the loneliest day of my life,” she said. “When we saw the tires sticking up, I had no idea it was her vehicle. But then I got the biggest knot in my throat and I couldn’t swallow.”

Deputies had been regularly checking the river before the truck was found, but it was only after the level dropped to 7.5 feet, the lowest it had been since Barrentine was reported missing, that the upside-down truck tires protruded above the waterline.

Further, a Warren County Sheriff’s Department patrol boat could not be used because the water level was too low. That’s when Hartley insisted deputies use a civilian boat. Moments later, they saw the truck tires.

Pace said the area where Barrentine’s truck was found near Warriors Trail is between where she was last seen and where she would have been going. Authorities have speculated the truck went into the water and floated before capsizing and sinking.

“It is a place she frequented, a parking area adjacent to the river,” he said.

The F-150 was pulled from the Big Black with a backhoe and taken to the Warren County Sheriff’s Department to be processed. Barrentine’s body was removed, but gave no indication of cause or manner of death that authorities have revealed.

Pace said the FBI has provided “technical assistance,” but declined to say more about where evidence is taking authorities.

“We’re just still continuing to beat the streets looking for leads,” he said. “Unfortunately, none of this information has led to a resolution. And with any open investigation, I am not at liberty to comment on any specifics.”

Hartley said she also suspects foul play.

“That’s what the cops suspect,” she said. She insists, there’s no chance of anything else. “Angela never would have left her child. I am begging for somebody to please come forth and let us know what happened so we can put this behind us all. She has a child that needs to know what really happened to her mama.”

Family members have said Barrentine struggled with narcotics off and on since she was a teen and believe that may have been the reason she went to Edwards that day.

Barrentine left behind a husband, Daniel Barrentine, and her daughter, Ginger LeAnn Shiers.