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Alaska man arrested for killing Colorado woman again after judge previously dismissed murder charge for lack of probable cause

John Angerer (L) and Angela Wilds (R)

John Angerer, on the left, is now twice accused of killing Angela Wilds, on the right, in 2006. (Angerer via Juneau Police Department; Wilds via Boulder County District Attorney’s Office)

An Alaska man once accused of a woman’s murder but later released has been accused again – and formally indicted this time around.

John Angerer, 53, stands accused of one count of murder in the second degree over the nearly-two-decades-ago slaying of Angela Wilds, 38, according to a March 11 press release from the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office in Colorado.

The deceased woman’s body was found “badly decomposing” by two hikers on June 4, 2006, the DA’s office said. The discovery occurred in the South Saint Vrain Canyon, roughly 3.3 miles outside of Lyons in unincorporated Boulder County.

Wilds’ body was nude at the time, law enforcement said. She was only wearing a “cross ring” on her left hand when she was found.

“The body appeared to have been dragged from a nearby shallow grave, presumably by a large predator,” the press release says. “Deputies located a pair of yellow ski pants, a sleeping bag, and a pillow in a pillowcase, all neatly folded up near the gravesite.”

For months, the DA’s office noted, Wilds remained unidentified. By November of that year, however, DNA confirmed her identity.

Details of the resulting investigation are scarce but in 2009, law enforcement claimed to have connected Angerer to Wilds within 72 hours of her death and by way of DNA evidence as well. He was arrested in early 2010.

The defendant was charged with one count of murder in the second degree and spent some five months in jail before a judge tossed the murder charge due to a lack of probable cause.

According to the Daily Camera, the chief pathologist for the Boulder County Coroner’s Office testified at Angerer’s probable cause hearing that there was no evidence in Wilds’ autopsy to support a homicide finding. Rather, the pathologist said, she had a blocked artery which meant that she could have died from a heart attack.

“They need to produce evidence first that Angerer is the person who caused the death of another,” public defender Seth Temin said at that hearing. “They haven’t done that, Judge. They can’t even place him at the scene of the death, nor can they say how or where she died.”

In the end, Boulder County Judge Thomas Reed decided he wanted “an appellate court to wrestle with the issue that if there is absolutely no evidence of the cause of death, can a pathologist determine what was most likely the cause of death?”

The defense attorney lauded the judge’s call.

“We think this is the right decision,” Temin reportedly said after the ruling. “There is no evidence of whether this was a homicide or, if so, who might have done it. That’s a fundamental issue in a murder case.”

In the years that passed, investigators continued their work in determining how Wilds died and who may have done it.

They apparently got the same answer – by way of the identification of new witnesses, “re-interviewing individuals previously known” to law enforcement, consulting with other forensic pathologists, and submitting “further items” to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for testing and DNA analysis, the DA’s press release notes.

Specifics about the new evidence were not released.

“I am glad that we were able move our investigation into the homicide of Angela Wilds forward,” Boulder County Sheriff Curtis Johnson said in a statement obtained by The Denver Post. “I am proud that our detectives didn’t give up on this cold case. We know Angela’s family has been waiting a long time for this day to come. Her family is in our thoughts as we take the next steps in the judicial process.”

Angerer was arrested on March 9 in Anchorage. His extradition to Colorado is currently pending.

“We are determined to secure justice for the murder of Angela Wilds, some closure for her loved ones, and answers for our community,” Boulder County DA Michael Dougherty said in comments reported by the Post. “I am grateful for the tireless efforts and dedication of the investigators and prosecutors on this case. We sincerely appreciate the time and service of the grand jurors. Today’s announcement is an important step; we are committed to the work ahead.”

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