St. Louis, MO -- On Nov. 18, 1993, Angie Housman, a trusting fourth-grader, vanished after getting off her school bus up the street from her home.
Nine days after her disappearance, a deer hunter found her body in a wooded area. Angie had been tied to a tree and died slowly of exposure. She had been raped and tortured.
Police are nowhere near solving the case.
Detectives have tracked down more than 300 leads in their fruitless investigation into Angie's death.
"If you're looking for a bunch of frustrated policeman, this is the place to come," said St. Louis Sgt. Riley Hughes, who is heading the Major Case effort.
"This is the most frustrating case I've encountered in my 30 1/2 years as a policeman."
About a dozen detectives remain on the Housman case. They average 10-hour work days. About a third of the squad has been with the case since November.
One day last week, a detective fielded a phone call, then flipped through a weekly newspaper. His partner fingerprinted a teen-ager whose prints were smudged the last time he was questioned. A third detective asked if the prints of one of Angie's relatives needed to be redone.
Five or 10 calls trickle into the hot line which once rang nearly nonstop with dozens of daily tips from residents or psychics. A $91,000 reward fund, set up by businesses and civic groups, remains available for the taking.
Investigators have been unable to link anyone to the evidence gathered at the crime scene - a patch of woods 91 feet from a dead-end road known as a lover's lane and teen hangout.
"We've got evidence, but we haven't been able to match it with anyone," Hughes said.
"There have been a lot of ups; there have been a lot of downs.
"Unfortunately, all our ups came down."
The latest "up" that fizzled was the arrest of John Wayne Parsons in Bradenton, Fla. Parsons is an admitted child molester, but the evidence didn't link him to Angie's murder. And investigators can't place him in the area at the time of her disappearance.
Parsons became a suspect after he left photographs of children to be developed. The woman who owns the film processing store became suspicious about Parson's snapshots of children in provocative poses. She told police, who raided his home in Florida and found hundreds of pornographic photos - and a tie to the Housman case.
Parsons had in his home a newspaper clipping about Angie's death and a newspaper color photograph of Angie.
Detectives arrested Parsons and he was charged with molesting a girl, 9, in his home. He was caring for the girl while her mother was in jail. They also arrested Parsons on a Missouri arrest warrant accusing him of sodomy and sexual assault of a 9-year-old.
Still, police are not totally ruling out Parsons, in that he could have possibly had a hand in the killing as an accomplice, police say.
"Until we have somebody in custody, we're not eliminating anybody," Hughes said.
"`But right now, we've got no strong suspects."
Most of the investigators believe that Angie knew her killer, at least slightly, and that her innocence made her an easy mark.
"It's our feeling she got in a car on her own," Hughes said. "She was starved for affection. She told people, `I want to be your friend.' She was a little more trusting than many kids."
Another Major Case squad investigator added: "We've learned that Angie would meet you two or three times and you were her friend. We've been told that she'd go up to people and say, `Hi. My name is Angie. Are you my friend?'
"She was looking for attention."
The day before Angie was abducted, she told a teacher at school that she was planning to go to the country the next day with a relative. Police have thoroughly explored that lead, Hughes said.
It's possible she could have met a man, her new friend, who told her to call him uncle.
Hughes believes that whoever killed Angie remains in the St. Louis area. "Personally, I think everything is right here, but we just haven't been able to put our finger on it.
"I've been wrong before, but I've got a gut feeling that's it's all right here. We just can't hit the right nail on the right head.
"For all we know, a patrolman on the night watch will stop a guy for running a stop sign, and the guy will get out of his car and say, `I did it;' and that's the way the case will be solved."
Many of the investigators are puzzled why Angie's abductor did not murder her outright. "We go back to that every once in a while," Hughes said. "Somebody will ask the question. Maybe, he wanted her found."
"At times, the investigation seems to mirror Murphy's Law: Whatever can go wrong, will."
The day of Angie's abduction, it was a fluke that no one saw a thing. A neighbor usually is positioned at her window, watching the children get off the bus, but she didn't do so that day. Another neighbor who normally stands on her front porch was away to tend to her sick father.
The Housman case is by far the longest consecutive investigation in the Major Case Squad's 28-year history. The squad is a quick hit team of officers from member municipal departments who usually work a case for five days. It boasts a success rate of more than 85 percent.
The investigators continue to plug along, following up on all new leads and re-examining old ones. In the nearly five months since the squad stepped into the Housman case, one detective's wife has had a baby; another officer has suffered a heart attack.
"There have been a lot of distractions on this case. It's been tough," Sgt. Roach said. "We've had to change a lot of our personal plans while working on this case, and our wives have put up with us. But we're focused, and we're determined.
"And we keep coming back because we want to solve this."
Nov. 23, 1999 -- Six years after 9-year-old Angie Houseman was found dead in a nature preserve, an anonymous donor has offered a $250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of her killer.
Angie vanished Nov. 11, 1993, as she walked home from school in this town of 15,000, according to St. Ann Police Chief Robert Schrader. Her parents reported her missing at around 5 p.m., setting off a massive search effort, Schrader said.
In the days that followed, police, FBI agents and volunteers searched the neighborhood and posted fliers. A team arrived to check the sewers for signs of the girl and a motorcycle group scoured the Busch Wildlife area, authorities said.
In the end, it was a hunter who found Angie in the wildlife preserve Nov. 27. Schrader told APBnews.com that the girl was naked and had been tied to a tree. She had died of exposure only three or four days earlier. "It was real cold," Schrader said. "When we found her, there was a pile of ice chips on top of her." Police found a bag with Angie's clothes, schoolbooks and a coat nearby.
Schrader says Angie must have been held alive for about a week before being taken to the woods. During that time, she was molested, he said.
In the six years since Angie's killing, investigators have received thousands of leads from around the country, but the case remains unsolved.
Schrader says that he hopes the reward money will encourage anyone who may know anything about the case to call St. Ann police at (314) 428-6822.