http://blogs.discovery.com/criminal_report/2008/07/the-missing---2.htmlThe Missing - A Weekly Exposé of Lost Souls - Issue #21
In this week's edition of "The Missing," we revisit the case of Angela "Angie" Marie Finger, 24, an endangered and missing adult who was last seen in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 25, 2006.
"In May 2006, Angie met a guy on the Internet who said his name was Craig Raether," Angie's mother, Michelle Finger, said in a telephone interview with Investigation Discovery. "He said he was 27-years-old and that his parents died in a tragic automobile accident. The moment I met him I didn't like him. It seemed apparent he was lying about his age and when I questioned him about his parents he could not remember when they died. It was just little things like that I would notice that seemed odd."
According to Michelle, Craig proposed to her daughter the day after he met her. As a result, Michelle and Angie got into several heated discussions about the new man in her life. There was something peculiar about the situation and Michelle felt that Angie was rushing into things too quickly.
"Soon after she met Craig, Angie began doing things that were very uncharacteristic of her," Michelle said. "I believe he got her into drugs. He is a manipulator and is very smooth."
Concerned for her daughter's welfare, Michelle had a paralegal friend run a background check on Craig, but they were unable to find any information on him.
"So after that we were fighting and the last time I saw her was on Fathers' Day, which would have been June 18, 2006," Michelle said. "We were talking about her brother's upcoming wedding and I told her I would take her to it, but that I didn't want Craig coming with us. We then got into a huge argument and she quit talking to me."
In the days that followed, Michelle went on a previously planned trip to Florida. She attempted to contact Angie several times while she was gone, but she was unable to get in touch with her. Upon her return, Michelle decided to visit Angie at her condo.
"I discovered the condo had been completely cleaned out," Michelle said. "Her phone was disconnected and there was no way to get a hold of her. Nobody had seen her and nobody had been in touch with her while I was gone. That concerned me, so I did some detective work of my own and found a couple of places that Craig had lived in Las Vegas. I spoke with a former roommate of his, a girl who was about 20-years-old, and she said that he had also tried to get her to go against her parents, but she refused and he moved out. The next roommate I found was also a girl. She said that she was engaged to a metro cop and that when she told Craig that her fiancée was going to move in, he moved out. So, as you can imagine, I found these things very disturbing."
Michelle was not sure what to do next, so she contacted the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and asked for assistance. An officer took her information and promised to be in touch but nothing came of it. The weeks turned into months and still nothing. Then, in May 2007, Michelle had a heart attack.
"After I got out of the hospital I was afraid," Michelle said. "I did not want to die without seeing my daughter again, so I set my mind to finding her. I put her picture everywhere I could think of and one night, while sitting in front of my computer, I had a bit of a brainstorm and decided to look on Classmates.com, to see if Craig was registered there. Sure enough, I found his name and decided to send him an email. I told him that I really needed to talk to my daughter and that she needed to get in touch with me immediately. After I sent the email I went back and put Craig's picture on my profile, hoping it might get someone's attention."
Roughly three weeks went by and Michelle had all but forgotten about the Classmates.com Website. Then, in May 2007, she was shocked to finally find a response in her inbox; however, the sender was not the person she had expected.
"I got an e mail from Craig Raether and he gave me his phone number and told me to call him as soon as I could," Michelle said. "He wrote that the man I really wanted was William Matthew Smolich, a former friend of his who was a wanted pedophile."
As it turned out, Michelle was smart to put Smolich's photo on her profile. When she finally spoke with the real Craig, he told her he would not have responded if he had not seen the photo.
"When he saw the picture he immediately knew what was going on," Michelle said. "After we talked on the phone I was just floored. I knew something was wrong with my daughter's boyfriend but I didn't think it was that."
Wanting to help Michelle find her daughter and to put a stop to Smolich using his identity, Craig began doing some detective work of his own. As a result, Craig found several Websites Smolich operated on the Internet. Unfortunately, the content within them proved to be heartbreaking for Michelle.
"He finally sent me a link to a pornographic Website and asked me if the girl featured there was my daughter," Michelle said. "I went to the website and sure enough it was her. A couple days later he sent me links to several other sites and they all contained photographs of my daughter."
As hard as it was for Michelle to browse through the Websites, she thoroughly explored each and every one of them, hoping that she might find a clue to her daughter's whereabouts. As it turned out, her hunch was right and on one of the Websites she found a Colorado phone number for Smolich.
"I called the phone number and he answered the phone," Michelle said. "I asked to talk to my daughter and he pretended he did not know who I was. I said, 'William let me talk to my daughter.' I heard him dial the phone and a few seconds later my daughter was on the other end of the line. I told my daughter his real name and also told her that he was a wanted pedophile. I heard something click and she said his name. She knew something but she didn't know what she knew and she was just thinking. I said wherever you are I will come get you. The phone call went on for another 10 seconds and then the line went dead. I tried to call back and it went right to voice mail. That was the last time I talked to her."
Following the telephone conversation, Smolich took his Websites off the Internet. Michelle contacted the Boulder Police Department and notified them that Smolich was wanted for failing to register as a sex offender; however, according to Michelle, they seemed less than interested in pursuing the case.
"He is wanted in Colorado and my understanding is that he is wanted on eight charges in Arizona. They won't tell me what the charges are for but from what I have heard he is allegedly a person of interest in a child pornography case."
Undeterred by the lack of cooperation with police in Colorado, Michelle continued to conduct her own investigation and soon discovered that Smolich had rented an office space in Mesa, Arizona. Michelle made the four hour drive to Mesa and staked out the building for several days, but did not see anyone come or go. Local police finally secured a search warrant for the premises and were able to find documents listing an address for Smolich, but when they went to the residence they learned that he had already left.
"The last tip we received was in February, when a guy in Arizona contacted me after he saw one of my posts on the Internet," Michelle said. "He told me that he had bought a car at an auction and that it had some of my daughter's belongings in it. The car had been found abandoned in October 2007. The guy gave me everything out of the car and I found my daughter's calling card and paper directions to a Greyhound bus station. There were also directions to some empty office spaces near Portland, but none of the information proved very useful."
The FBI is currently investigating the case and recently contacted Michelle to obtain Angie's dental records for comparison to a body that was found in Las Vegas. While she awaits the results, Michelle says that she will continue to hope for the best and pray for her daughter's safe return.
"Even if she is mad at me, there is no way she would go this long without talking to her dad or her brother and sister," Michelle said. "Nobody knows her like we do. She was very close with her family. We all love her and we just want to know that she is safe."
Yesterday, Investigation Discovery found a photo of Angie on a photography Website that was purported to have been taken in January; however Michelle believes the image is much older. The photographer in questioned has not yet responded to our inquiries.
Angela "Angie" Marie Finger is described as a white female, 5'7" tall, 105 lbs., with brownish red hair and hazel eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI's Las Vegas Field Office at 702-636-5033 or the Las Vegas Metro Police Department at 702-828-2907.