TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Angela Crowley had a lot of job offers when she graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1985, but she chose Florida because she loved the water and could pursue her dreams to travel.
About five months later, those dreams ended when William Happ kidnapped, raped and murdered her as the 21-year-old woman was traveling to meet a friend for a Memorial Day weekend at the beach in May 1986. Happ is now scheduled to be executed Oct. 15.
“I never questioned her moving to Florida. I always thought it was a good move on her part,” her brother, Chris Crowley of Newburg, Mo., said Wednesday. “She loved it. That was a key thing. She had several job offers, but that’s the one she chose because of the location, because of the weather, because of the water.”
Crowley was known for community service, mentoring other students at NIU, boating and water skiing and playing the flute.
Chris Crowley helped move his sister from the small town of Oregon, Ill., to Fort Lauderdale during the Christmas holiday season. He hasn’t been back to Florida since.
“After she was killed I made a vow that there was no way in the world I could go to Florida until this was resolved,” Crowley said.
Now he’s making plans to travel to Starke, where Happ, 51, will be executed at Florida State Prison barring any last-minute appeals.
Crowley said the execution is long overdue. Another sister of his died just six days before Gov. Rick Scott signed Happ’s death warrant. Their mother died five years ago. Aunts, uncles and other relatives who’ve been waiting for the execution also have passed away.
“I keep watching relatives drop and he’s still there. It just seems that’s not the way it’s supposed to work,” Crowley said.
Crowley remembers talking to his sister for a long time the night before she was murdered. She was a travel agent and she had her first chance to take a long weekend and he made sure she had maps and directions to get to her friend’s location in Yankeetown along the north Gulf coast.
“My sister could get lost backing out of a driveway,” he said.
In fact, she did get lost, making a wrong turn that cost her about an hour. She called her friend to say she would be late. Her friend told her that when she got to Crystal River to go a specific convenience store and use the pay phone to call her and she would come show her the rest of the way. That call never came.
When Crowley arrived at the convenience store, Happ smashed her car window, kidnapped her and brought her to a canal, where he beat her, raped her and then strangled her with her pants. He threw her body in the canal, where a fisherman found it the next day.
He was sentenced to death in 1989.
and her family has waited ever since for the sentence to be carried out.
“When my mother passed away five years ago, she said ‘You stay on top of them. Make sure this thing gets done,’” Crowley said.
He set up an online petition asking Scott to sign the death warrant and began emailing Scott and his staff.
So when his phone rang Tuesday, Crowley got the news he had been waiting for more than two decades. Scott signed Happ’s death warrant.
“As soon as the phone rang and I saw the 850 area code, I thought, ‘That’s Florida. That can only be good news,’” he said.
Angela Crowley loved to travel and chose her job because it would allow her to do more of it. She and her mother had booked a trip to Hawaii and were supposed to leave the month after her murder.
“She has tons of friends,” Crowley said, adding that he was a letter carrier and his mother was the city clerk in Oregon. The family knew a lot of people in the northern Illinois town of about 3,000. “This affected the entire town. It shook it to its core.”
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