SC Missing: Advocate helped investigators connect murder, missin - - Columbia, South Carolina

SC Missing: Advocate helped investigators connect murder, missing person case

Monica Caison, found of a North Carolina Cue Center for missing persons, told investigators in 2005 about the I-20 girl case and its resemblance to Michelle Haggadone's missing person's file. Monica Caison, found of a North Carolina Cue Center for missing persons, told investigators in 2005 about the I-20 girl case and its resemblance to Michelle Haggadone's missing person's file.
Lone witness Jonathan Threatt walks into a diner with investigators this week. Threatt was re-interviewed about the Haggadone murder case. Lone witness Jonathan Threatt walks into a diner with investigators this week. Threatt was re-interviewed about the Haggadone murder case.

It was a missing person advocate that helped put together the pieces to a 14-year-old case involving a missing woman whose body was found in Darlington County.

Monica Caison founded the Cue Center of North Carolina, which is a Wilmington-based missing person's search group. Caison told WIS she started work on the missing person's file for Michelle Haggadone soon after the woman was reported missing in 2000. Caison knew about the Interstate 20 girl case out of Darlington County, and in 2005, she went straight to investigators to try to help.

"There were numerous times that we'd call and somebody would have to call us back because they couldn't find the file, and I know there was two times I sent case workers down to make sure there was DNA entered," Caison said.

I-20 Girl resembles missing person

In August 2000, a trucker called police and said a woman's body was behind a rest stop off of I-20 in Darlington County. That trucker left the scene and didn't wait for police to show up.

Glenda Wilkes was one of two medics who got the call and went to the scene where the body was said to be.

"We met with law enforcement," Wilkes said. "They were waiting on us, and we all got out of our vehicles and went – we started walking in the woods. So, we all stopped and decided it would be best if we split half and half. So, half of us went to the right and half of us went to the left."

Wilkes went left on the search with a Darlington County deputy. It was about 5 minutes later that Wilkes discovered something in the woods.

"I hollered for him. ‘I think I got her. I think I found her,'" Wilkes said, as she stood at the scene off I-20 with WIS for the first time in 14 years. "He came over, and I didn't want to touch anything. So then I moved a few more leaves and he said, ‘Yep.' Then he called everyone else and told them we had her over here."

The scene 14 years ago was overgrown, Wilkes said. She was surprised they even found the body.

"Her body was mostly covered up, except her hip was up in the air because she was laying on her side and kind of face down," Wilkes said. "If it hadn't been for that, we'd have never seen her because we'd have walked right by."

That woman's body turned out to be Haggadone's, but that was not an immediate discovery. There was little physical evidence on the scene and getting the woman's identity was investigators' first job.

"She didn't deserve that," Wilkes said, who passed the rest area hundreds of times since August 2000. "I've always thought when I come by here. I don't think I've ever been by here that I don't think about her."

Darlington County Capt. Andy Locklair was on the murder case, but after 14 years, no one was charged in the case. However, he was able to get forensic artists to use the woman's skull and recreate a clay image of her face. That was put into the public's view, but no answers came.

"I submitted then, there was a Jane Doe in South Carolina that I was very interested in concerning Michelle Haggadone," Caison said. "I supplied three pictures – never to have been seen by the public to that investigator and asked at that point that they check into the Jane Doe. There was a striking resemblance. I remember saying that and I actually have notes in my case file repeating that."

Despite Caison's clues, it took Darlington County investigators more than a decade to identify Haggadone.

Haggadone was a mother to two children – a girl and a boy. Her family says she fell into addiction that led to a life of sex for cash. Investigators think Haggadone chose to do business with truckers.

Haggadone's mother, Cathleen Applegate, said she kept in touch with her daughter, but in mid-2000, the phone calls stopped.

"She used to call me and tell me what she was doing and then there were no more calls," Applegate said.

In 2008, three years after Caison informed investigators about Haggadone's case and the I-20 Girl, Applegate got a call from Brunswick County, N.C., investigators asking for a DNA sample. Caison says she never heard another word from investigators. The DNA sample from Applegate should have been enough, but investigators asked for a second DNA sample from Haggadone's son. Then again, investigators asked for a third DNA sample from Haggadone's sister.

In 2011, investigators gathered Haggadone's family at the Darlington County Sheriff's Office to announce the family's DNA was a perfect match to Haggadone.

Will a murder charge come?

Locklair visited John Wayne Boyer in prison after Brunswick County investigators contacted him and said they had a guy in prison whose other case matched Haggadone's murder case. Boyer told Locklair he strangled Haggadone with a shirt, but that didn't match evidence found at the scene. There was a wire around Haggadone's neck, which resulted in strangulation – her cause of death.

Despite that difference, Locklair named Boyer the killer in a 2011 press conference, but he never charged Boyer with Haggadone's murder.

Defense expert Jack Swerling said the murder case could be in jeopardy after looking at the confession and evidence in the investigation.

Locklair didn't get a warrant on Boyer until the day after WIS interviewed Applegate. Locklair told a judge he had new information in the case.

Locklair resigned from the Darlington County Sheriff's Office during WIS' investigation into the I-20 Girl case. Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd called what Locklair did a "cover up" by getting the warrant ahead of WIS' reports. Boyer still has not been charged with murder.

Solicitor Will Rogers assigned one of his assistant prosecutors to the I-20 Girl case, and Darlington County assigned a new investigator to the case, too.

Earlier this week, WIS was in North Carolina to see South and North Carolina investigators interview Jonathan Threatt, who is a lone witness in the case, inside of a diner. Threatt first spoke to North Carolina investigators in 2011. Threatt formally worked with Boyer as a trucker and said that he saw a woman and a broken down car on the interstate while he and Boyer were going to Texas near Dillon. Threatt says Boyer slowed down and stopped where the woman was.

"We've made a lot of progress," Rogers said. "There's still more loose ends we have to tie up. We're still evaluating the case and we're kind of – I won't say we're on hold, but there's some stuff, evidence may have to be analyzed that we have to wait on results and stuff like that."

There are uncertainties on what the solicitor's investigation will conclude and whether there will be new information added that investigators didn't discover before.

"There's nothing I can do to go back and change what has happened up to this point," Rogers said. "All I can do is – from the time I got involved in the case – move forward and proceed and do what I do in every case and that's seek justice."

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