Bad Signal

When Randy Angle disappeared, he left behind a multimillion-dollar fortune in a two-way radio -- and an ugly secret

The business used a lot of cable and amplifiers and low-tech electronic gadgets with names like "load isolators" and "heliax." That much is evident on the videotape his daughter's attorney shot a few weeks after Randy James Angle went on the lam.Inside Angle's shop in an industrial section of Garland -- the center of a profitable two-way radio company that provided frequencies and equipment to Lone Star Cab, AAA Auto Club, the Bass Brothers security force, the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, and a dozen others -- rows of shelves and cabinets lay half-filled with quaint-looking radio parts.

In a semitrailer parked out back, next to the gray metal radio tower, they found what looked like miles of cable and wire, and shelves stacked with dead-looking electronic gear. Pack-rat stuff from the squeaky, squawky, blue-collar world of dispatch radio -- the lifeline of cab drivers, cement-truck drivers, messenger services, and emergency plumbing vans.

At the Angle home, a low-sitting '70s-era brick number on a soggy lot in Rockwall, they found more radio gear, plus Angle's beloved drum kit, his array of exercise equipment, and the massive gun safe in his bedroom. That and another safe found hidden in the chimney were empty when they finally got them open.



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Randy Angle, left, and Richard Youngblood in 1984, the year Angle began his radio business.
Arthur Nichols
Randy Angle, left, and Richard Youngblood in 1984, the year Angle began his radio business.

Angle's souped-up 1998 Mustang Cobra was nowhere to be found, but there was ample evidence of his survivalist leanings: camouflaged gun cases, electrical generators, military-style meals-ready-to-eat, a green tube someone thought belonged to a rocket launcher, a blue-and-white badge reading "U.N. Observer." The only gun they found was a .38-caliber rubber-handled pistol in the office desk.

As expected, the business' billing computer, its valuable radios, test equipment, and tools were gone, along with a man who for years had troubled and mystified the tight-knit DFW dispatch-radio community.

For reasons unclear even to those closest to him, the 46-year-old Angle maintained a sense of secrecy that struck many in the business as borderline paranoia. He listed his cars, his house in Rockwall, his property in Van Zandt County, his business, and his radio licenses in an alphabet soup of aliases that he never registered with state or local officials. He wouldn't give his direct phone number to his most lucrative clients. He feared and loathed any sort of registration, preferring not to use a driver's license or Social Security number.

Now, though, at least one of his secrets has been revealed.

Backed by corroborating accounts from other family members, Angle's 27-year-old daughter, Paula Jenkins, told Garland police in April 1999 that Randy Angle had been sexually abusing her since she was 8 or 9 years old. It was part of a nightmare childhood that included withheld food, isolation, and self-taught home schooling, Paula would relate later. The most recent assault had taken place at the Garland shop, Paula told police in a sworn affidavit. She also reported with some detail an attack that occurred in June 1987, when she was 12.

Using those reports, a Dallas grand jury indicted Angle on felony charges of aggravated sexual assault, incest, and sexual assault. Arrested shortly after his daughter made the allegations, he made a $5,000 bond on April 14, 1999. Then he vanished, leaving behind a business that, despite its modest trappings, had become highly valuable in the era of wireless communications.

Today, Garland police, as well as authorities in Rockwall and even federal authorities, are seeking Angle's whereabouts. Besides the Dallas County charges, he is wanted on at least nine warrants for other sexual attacks that occurred in Rockwall County.

People who know Angle well don't think he's gone far. "Randy's the kind of guy who could hide in plain sight," says Richard Youngblood, who learned the technical side of the business from Angle and worked for him for 15 years.

Angle's wife, Dana, attempted to appear on his behalf in a civil suit that Paula Jenkins initiated a month after filing the criminal charges.

Choosing not to hire a lawyer, Dana Angle attempted to employ a home-brewed variant of common law she picked up at a series of hotel seminars to try to keep her daughter from taking over the business as compensation for a lifetime of damages. When that failed, she, too, disappeared last fall, presumably to join her husband underground.

Embedded in the militia movement beliefs that Randy and Dana Angle espoused is a feverish disdain for the federal government. Their daughter, who worked with the company's books and billing, says she never saw her father pay a dime of taxes, and his employees say he told them they were foolish for paying theirs. He named his ranch the 3G, for "Gold, Guns, and Get-the-hell-off-my-land."

"It's ironic he hated the government when he made his living using the government airwaves," says one business competitor who asked not to be named. "You've got a story about a very weird guy."

Through a tireless effort at acquiring his set of radio channels -- for which he set up a network of 13 towers and repeaters, which transmit the signals -- Angle amassed a collection of licenses at almost no cost. In little more than a decade, their worth skyrocketed as large corporations set their sights on acquiring parts of the finite broadcast spectrum.

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