FULTON COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - More than 18 years ago, a Fulton County woman and her young son disappeared.
Now, investigators say a man’s widow has confessed he killed them and destroyed their bodies in an outdoor furnace.
On Sept. 1, 2002, Sheriff Al Roork was the Salem police chief when Tommy Rettew reported his 4-year-old son, Thomas Michael Rettew, was missing.
The boy’s mother, Angela Mack Cox, had also disappeared.
According to an April 9, 2021, news release, sheriff’s investigator Dale Weaver interviewed several of her friends.
They claimed she had married James Cox in April of 2002. The following month, the two were involved in a fatal crash that sent them both to the hospital.
James Cox claimed his brother Jeremy picked up Angela Mack and her son and took them to Alton, Missouri.
Two weeks later, he said Angela called him from California saying she wanted to come back home.
“He stated he hadn’t seen or heard from her since,” Roork said.
Jeremy Cox told Weaver he had picked up Angela Mack and took her to Batesville to see her mother then he took her to Thayer, Missouri.
On the way to Thayer, he said they picked up Dale Krusen and went to a farm belonging to his brother, Clarence Krusen, to pick up some cattle to take to a sale barn in Ash Flat.
After leaving the farm, police stopped Cox in Alton for being in possession of a stolen vehicle and taken to jail.
Jeremy Cox claimed Angela and Dale Krusen were also taken into custody and someone picked them up.
“He stated he later heard that Angela had sold her son, Mikey, to the Krusens,” Roork said in the release.
Despite multiple rumors surrounding the disappearance of Angela Mack Cox and her son, Weaver learned that several people had seen the boy on several occasions with Clarence Krusen and his wife, Barbara, in the Alton area.
According to Angela’s mother, Lorna Pool, her daughter was living in Chowchilla, California when she last spoke to her in December of 2002.
“She said she seemed herself, she was happy, and had a sense of humor,” the report stated. “She told her she was going to be leaving there to go pick up Mikey from Clarence Krusen in Alton.”
A week later, Pool learned Angela had already left California. She then called Clarence Krusen who said Angela’s brother-in-law, Jeremy Cox, had picked up her and Mikey.
However, a family member told Pool that Cox could not have picked up the pair because he was in jail at the time.
Krusen reportedly told Pool that Angie was letting him and his wife adopt Mikey; however, Pool said she heard from others that Angie had sold the boy to the Krusens.
Weaver contacted Krusen’s brothers who said Clarence and Barbara had moved to Virginia in 2004 or 2005.
According to the report, Krusen was indicted by the Missouri State Police and ATF in 2004 on a firearms violation and sent to the federal penitentiary for 10 years.
After 8 years in prison, Krusen was paroled.
On Feb. 17, 2012, in Laredo, Texas, William Henry Johnson reportedly shot Krusen to death.
For 8 more years, the disappearance of Angela Mack Cox and her son Mikey remained a mystery.
In October of 2020, Detective Weaver contacted Barbara Krusen who said she met Angela in the fall of 2002 while she was working on their farm.
Barbara Krusen also claimed she and her deceased husband kept Mikey for a while and later made arrangements to adopt him.
“She stated that an attorney had drawn up the papers, and she and Clarence signed them,” the report stated.
She claimed Angela signed the papers before she went to California.
Later Angela reportedly told Clarence Krusen she had a change of heart and did not want to go through with the adoption.
“Barbara stated that it angered both her and Clarence,” the report stated. “She told Angela she needed to come back and pick up Mikey. That she didn’t want to just be a babysitter.”
Barbara Krusen told Weaver that they twice sent Angela money to come back and get the child.
After picking Angela up at the bus station in Springfield, Missouri, Barbara Krusen said they returned to their farm in Alton.
The next morning Angela and Mikey were gone.
She claimed her husband told her that someone had come and picked them up.
However, Barbara Krusen said she did not hear a vehicle come or leave the residence the previous night or the following morning.
Weaver interviewed several people who worked for the Krusens and were friends of both them and Angela Mack Cox.
The investigator was unable to find anyone who had seen or talked to the missing woman and her child since late 2002.
He then contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in polygraphing Barbara Krusen, who now lives in Portsmouth, Virginia.
On Friday, April 2, two FBI agents administered a polygraph exam on Krusen, which she reportedly failed.
During a post-polygraph interview, Roork said Krusen told the agents that Clarence “had done away with both Angela Mack Cox and Thomas Michael Rettew (Mikey) by killing them and destroying their bodies in a furnace that they had attached to their farmhouse.”
On Wednesday, April 7, Krusen told Detective Weaver the same story.
“She stated when they moved from the farmhouse, he told her the furnace had to go because of what it had been used for,” Roork said.
Upon determining the crime could have been committed in Oregon County, Missouri, Roork said they contacted the sheriff there.
In addition to more than 18 years, Roork said the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department spent thousands of dollars on the case.
“I am glad that we were able to close this case as of April 7, 2021,” he said. “It is my hope that this will bring some closure to the friends and family of Angela and Mikey.”
He thanked Investigator Dale Weaver and the FBI for resolving the case.