A secretive text-message invite to a private party. Police want to know: Was Angie Barlow welcomed into a night of fun or was she set up for murder?
It's just days before Halloween 2016 for Indianapolis roommates Angie Barlow and Mona Jackson. And after 11 years of friendship, 24-year-old Mona and 23-year-old Angie are more like sisters than friends.
"I was adopted into their family, not necessarily paperwork, but yeah, and she's also adopted in my family as well," Mona Jackson tells Crime Watch Daily.
Angie was the sometimes willful little sister she never had.
"Angie was just her own person, she was independent, nobody could tell her what to do," said Mona.
And what Angie wanted to do was become a dancer, which for the small town girl from Muncie, Indiana meant extra money to live large in the big city.
"Once we moved to the city, things opened up for us, so we started going on vacations and spending money like we're not supposed to," said Mona. "We're just really like salt and pepper, that's what we are."
Angie's mother Christina Kramer is supportive of her oldest daughter's independence and free spirit.
"She was full of life, full of love," Christina Kramer tells Crime Watch Daily. "She loved her family. She loved her friends, she loved her sisters and she loved her dog Pablo. And she definitely lived every day like it was her last."
But Angie never could have known just how much time she had left when out of the blue she received a mysterious text message.
"She was like, 'Sis, hey, read these messages,'" said Mona. "The first message started out: 'Hi, do you do private parties?' That's how it started out."
Angie, who danced at local clubs in the area, would do private parties on occasion. And this text appears to be from a woman wanting to surprise her husband for their anniversary. But there's something odd about the exchange.
"Never once said her name," said Mona Jackson.
There is no name attached to the unknown phone number, but that doesn't deter Angie. Although Angie has done private dances before, her best friend Mona gets a gut feeling that this one is different.
"It just wasn't adding up, and I told Angie, I said 'Please do not do this private party,' because it just didn't seem right at all," Mona tells Crime Watch Daily.
But there's no talking the headstrong Angie out of it. Then fast-forward two weeks to the night of the private party when Angie gets a text from the client: "I want are [sic] panties and bra to match. Anything black and red?"
Angie responds: "Yes I have a couple black and red outfits!"
The texts continue, stating the party address and gate code needed to get into the apartment complex. Then Angie does something that she always does before dancing at a private party: she screen-shots the party's location and sends it to her roommate Mona.
"'This is where I'm going for this private party,'" Angie texts Mona. "'Doing a private party at this address just in case I go missing lol.'"
Then just a few hours later, another message from Angie. This time she appears to be inside the private party.
"There was a Snapchat that she had and it was about 11:45 on October 26th in the evening, and it said 'doing this private party,' and we do believe that that Snapchat was taken in the bathroom at the apartment," said Angie's mother Christina Kramer.
In the pic from her Snapchat, there's a big smile on her face. Everything appears to be fine.
But by the next day...
"Nothing. Nobody's heard from her, nobody's seen her," said Christina. "I start calling Angie, I'm leaving her voicemails, text messages."
Frantic, Angie's mother races to her daughter's apartment. It's clear she hasn't been home.
"She has a Yorkie and she didn't go home and take care of her dog," said Christina. "That's her baby, and he was without food and water, and she never left him unattended."
Then 17 hours after Angie sent that final post on her Snapchat, Mona remembers the screen-shot that Angie sent her of the party's address.
"I was two blocks away from the location and I went over there as soon as possible," said Angie's friend Mona.
But when she attempts to punch in the gate code:
"Nobody's answering. So I was just stuck from there on out," said Mona.
But not for long. That's when Mona takes matters into her own hands.
"So I actually climbed over the gate," said Mona. "I went over to the apartment and it was cleaned out."
Immediately, Mona and Christina head to the police station to file a missing-persons report, while still holding out hope she'll show up.
Cops get their hands on surveillance video from the apartment complex. When detectives hit play, they can't believe their eyes.
"The surveillance video from the apartment complex shows Angela Barlow's vehicle, which is a blue Pontiac G6, leaving the complex at around 3:30 in the morning," said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Detective Jose Torres.
Detective Torres dissects the video frame by frame, and what he sees next is nothing short of spine-chilling.
"Directly behind Angela's car is another vehicle," said Det. Torres.
It appears Angie isn't alone.
Angie Barlow, 23, has been missing for almost 24 hours after being hired to dance at a private party. The last time anyone heard from the Indianapolis woman was when she sent a Snapchat from what appeared to be inside the party.
Then police uncover shocking surveillance video showing Angie's car leaving the party, time-stamped at 3:29 a.m. It shows the apartment gate open and both cars appearing to leave together.
"They were that close where the gate opened up for both vehicles," said Det. Jose Torres. "It wasn't like any space in between them. It was literally one right behind the other."
Is it possible Angie isn't missing at all and out with a friend from the party?
"Maybe she's off somewhere," said Angie's mother Christina Kramer. "Maybe she drank too much, or whatever. You know, trying to justify anything, you know. Coming up with anything I can to justify why she's not answering her phone, why she didn't come home."
Either way, Angie's family and friends waste no time. They organize a search party and distribute missing-person fliers.
"We started handing them out all over the city," said Angie's mother Christina Kramer. "Posting them wherever we could. Posting on social media. Just anything we could to try and get the word out. We held on to hope she's still out there waiting for us to find her."
Meanwhile, investigators focus in on the shadowy figures driving those two cars.
"With the video you cannot see who is actually driving either vehicle," said Det. Torres.
But cops do have a clear shot of the second vehicle's license plate. When they run the registration, it comes back to a Raven Miller. And just who is that?
"I found out that the people hosting this party was a female named Raven Miller and Baron McCullough," said Det. Torres.
Raven and Baron are the super-secret clients, but it turns out they were no secret to Angie.
"Angela knew Raven Miller and Baron McCullough through where she worked at, at the club," said Det. Torres.
And they weren't so fond of each other.
"There were issues," said Det. Torres. "To the point where Angela would not have done this private party if she had known it was Raven and Baron that were throwing it."
But remember, the person behind the private-party texts never gave a name, and the phone number was unknown to Angie -- leaving Det. Torres with one terrifying conclusion.
"I believe yes, she was tricked to come to this location," said IMPD Det. Jose Torres.
Which would mean that Raven and Baron didn't act alone.
"Somebody answers the door when she knocks on it," said Det. Torres. "I truly believe she did not know that it was going to be Raven and Baron's apartment, and I believe somebody else was there to answer the door when Angela knocked on it."
But why? The couple is brought in for questioning.
"They admit that she was there but they also said that they never left the facility," said Det. Torres. "They stayed there while Angela left."
And police have nothing to prove otherwise. Even though they know it's Raven's car following Angie's vehicle on that surveillance footage, the video is too dark and grainy to identify either driver. And without any direct evidence tying the couple to Angie's disappearance, they are free to go.
Then 12 days later, police get a big break.
"Her vehicle, the Pontiac G6 was located," said Det. Torres.
Angie Barlow's car is discovered just over eight miles from the apartment where she was last seen.
"We were hoping that maybe if we found her car, we'd find her," said Angie's mother Christina.
Sadly, there's no Angie, just her car. But exactly where the car is found doesn't sit well with her best friend Mona.
"I know for sure I had checked that area multiple times and then - boom - pops up one day, and I'm just like, there's no way," said Mona Jackson.
And there's something else that is strange about Angie's car: It's trashed.
"It looked like the car had went underneath a wire fence, and there were some cracks on the window and headlights," said Christina. "Angie always kept the inside of her car really clean, and it was a mess."
The car is taken in for processing.
"There's a possibility that there was some leads found in the car," said Det. Torres.
But is it enough evidence to find out what happened to the missing woman?
"I don't want to compromise the investigation 'cause it's still an ongoing investigation, so I'm not going to say exactly what all was found in the vehicle," said Det. Torres.
While investigators hold their cards close to their vest, the race is on to find to Angie Barlow. Her parents put up digital billboards all over Indianapolis and post a $5,000 reward. But sadly, seven months pass and there's no sign of Angie Barlow.
Then cops suddenly announce an arrest in Muncie, Indiana, Angie's home town.
Depending on whom you ask, Angie Barlow was either invited or lured to a private party at an apartment in Indiana. She's never been seen since. Her family fears that she's been murdered, but police don't have any solid proof.
Angie Barlow had been missing for seven months. Then in a stunning turn of events, her own grandmother becomes a victim of fraud. Coincidence?
"I believe that there is a connection," said Indianapolis Metro Police Det. Jose Torres.
In the months following Angie's disappearance, about $8,000 was mysteriously withdrawn from an account belonging to the missing woman's grandmother, Sharon Barlow. The timing of the crime is of special interest to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police.
"There's a possibility that there's a connection, because this investigation of this fraud occurred after Angela was missing," said Det. Torres.
Cops obtain a search warrant in connection to Angie's disappearance. It leads investigators to a residence in Angie's home town of Muncie, Indiana. And it's there where they make a disturbing discovery.
"One individual that was arrested had account information of Angela's grandmother," said Det. Torres.
Crime Watch Daily affiliate Fox59 WXIN-TV speaks with Angie Barlow's parents.
"We don't know how they got the information they got," Christina Kramer says.
Police arrest a woman named Michelle Brown on fraud-related charges. But the woman tells investigators she didn't know Angie's grandmother, but knew her bank's routing number and chose her account number by chance. Cops have their suspicions.
"The information that was used to commit the fraud was specific information that Angela would have," said Det. Torres.
If true, then how did Michelle Brown get this very specific information from the missing 23-year-old?
"With an ongoing investigation, we're still working on that as well," said Det. Torres.
While serving the search warrant, police arrest three other people at the home on various charges unrelated to Angie Barlow's disappearance.
"Irregardless of Angie, what they've done, or at least one of them, has done to my mom, is just, why?" Christina said.
And the even bigger question for Angie's parents: Do these four people know anything about their daughter's disappearance?
"That's definitely something that goes through your mind, especially when all you do day in and day out is just wonder where your daughter is," Christina said.
"I believe there is a connection, but I cannot find one yet," said Det. Torres.
Also, cops have to consider something else: A possible larger conspiracy, one that involves this fraud case and the couple who threw the party where Angie was last seen.
To date, cops don't have any direct evidence linking the people or cases together.
Then, four weeks later, police get an anonymous tip saying where Angie Barlow could be located, according to Det. Torres.
"We just had to wait, still holding onto the hope that she was out there alive," said Angie's mother Christina.
That tip points police in the direction of the back yard of a home that had been vacant for a long time in Indianapolis. That home is just a little more than 10 miles from where Angie went missing.
"Once we obtained the search warrant, we had cadaver dogs respond, and once they hit a location, and then we proceed to start digging," said Det. Torres.
Methodically, crime-scene teams excavate an area in the back yard. Then, there in a shallow grave, they spot the remains of a woman.
Angie's mother gets a phone call from an IMPD detective.
"He said 'I think we may have found Angela. And he asked if we could be in the coroner's office at 9 o'clock in the morning to come in and identify her,'" said Christina Kramer.
The body is badly decomposed. So the coroner shows Angie's parents photos of still-visible tattoos.
"Those are images that you see when you go to bed and it wakes you up in the middle of the night, 'cause that's something no parent should ever have to go through," said Christina.
Tragically, Angie's parents must confirm their worst fears.
"That was in fact my daughter, and we had to sit in the coroner's office and give the Jane Doe a name, and at that point the Jane Doe was Angela," said Christina.
The coroner's office is not releasing the cause of death to the public due to the ongoing police investigation.
And concerning the residence where the body was found:
"He had moved in very recently," said Det. Torres. "There was no reason for us to think he was a part of this investigation."
While police continue to track down every lead, Angie Barlow's parents say their final goodbyes, sparing no expense for their oldest daughter.
"We looked at it this way: price wasn't going to be an issue for it, we don't get a chance to pay for that wedding. We don't get grandkids of hers to spoil. We don't get anymore Christmases, we don't get anymore birthdays, we don't get anything anymore, and that was the absolute last thing that we could do for her, was to make sure that she had everything that she wanted and to make sure it was beautiful," said Christina.
Following Angie's funeral, Detective Jose Torres hasn't forgotten about Raven Miller and Baron McCullough, the couple who hired the 23-year-old to dance for them at that private party where she was last seen alive.
"I believe that they're persons of interest not only in the disappearance of Angela, but also the death of Angela," said Det. Torres.
It's a strong accusation coming from the detective working Angie's case, but he claims he can back up his statement if someone else comes forward -- someone else who was at that private party that night.
"I believe that there are other people in this apartment when this incident occurred and know exactly what happened to Angela that evening," said Det. Torres. "And my goal here is not just an arrest, my goal is a conviction."
Detectives are pleading with anyone who knows something about Angela Barlow's death to finally come forward. To submit a tip anonymously, contact Crime Stoppers USA at (800) 222-TIPS, or submit a tip to Crime Watch Daily.