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.
Paula Jenkins shows her lawyer around the family business in May 1999.
Paula Jenkins shows her lawyer around the family business in May 1999.

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.

Although Angle didn't trust the government or legal system enough to hire a lawyer, his unsophisticated control of a piece of the airwaves in the nation's seventh-largest dispatch-radio market turned out to be a government-given bonanza -- but one he would reap nothing from in the end.

When Paula was allowed to liquidate the company's assets to satisfy a judgment she'd been awarded against her father, she sold a set of licenses to Nextel, the cellular giant, for a stunning $6.8 million.

"She's a wealthy woman now," says Brenda Collier, her attorney. "But I don't know if there's any amount of money that would make up for what this young woman went through. She's had a very hard life."


Two things stand out in Paula Jenkins' mind about her early childhood in the southwestern corner of Ohio, in the years before the Angle family moved to Texas.One was some sort of row over her father's radio business, in which the police came and a partner ended up with his radio shop. The other was the way the family got out of town just ahead of a visit from child-welfare workers.

Paula, the oldest of four daughters, recalls two distinct family lives: one when her father was home, one when he was out working in his business. Lucky for them, he worked like a fool.

"When he would go to work, he'd work late, and our family would be fine," she says. "My mother would be home, and we'd be fine. As soon as we knew he was coming home, we'd be hiding in our rooms and that kind of thing. We'd be scared to death."

Angle never seemed to be happy. "He hit everybody," she remembers. "He was angry all the time."

Punishments for the smallest infractions included isolation in one's room for days without meals. "We'd have to wait until he was asleep and sneak into the kitchen to eat."

Recalls Mark Weathersby, a radio technician who several years later worked in the Angle shop in Garland for a while, "He could make those girls cry with just a look." He could be physically intimidating at 5-foot-10, 225 pounds, solid from work and working out. He was balding and, more recently, bearded.

Some time in the late '70s -- Paula can't recall the exact year -- a child-welfare worker was expected at their Ohio house. Her father packed up the family overnight and moved to Garland, where an even bleaker home life ensued.

By the time Paula was in the fifth grade, her father had begun to sexually assault her. In what she thinks was some sort of attempt to cover his sins, he dragged the family to church on Sunday, sometimes Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, and talked about religion a lot to people at his shop. He preferred small evangelical churches with 30 or 40 families, where he would sometimes serve as a deacon or the head of the "sound ministry."

The kids went to church schools too, until teachers began asking questions. "Someone told one of their classmates about what was going on [the sexual abuse], and her friend started to have nightmares. She told her parents, and they told the pastor. Randy made up some sort of story, and we'd move on," Paula recalls.

One family friend from church, Angie Stanford, says she and her husband also confronted Angle, who didn't confirm or deny the allegations of incest. "He was non-responsive," Stanford recalls. From then on, Paula says, it was homeschooling at their house in Rockwall. The kids taught themselves using readers and books, and they never had friends. While Randy indulged his interests in guns, fast cars, and music equipment, "we'd have to share panties and socks and stuff," Paula recalls. "Their [Randy and Dana's] needs were always taken care of."

As a result of the abuse, "My mother and I never had a normal mother-daughter relationship," Paula says. Dana Angle was clearly aware of the situation, Paula says, but chose to ignore or deny it. She picked up the kids from church school the day the pastor, who had become aware of the abuse allegations, raised the issue.

And a more like-minded husband and wife would be hard to find.

For as long as Paula could remember, Angle was big on guns and conspiracy theories and secrecy, and Dana went along. When the Committee for Legal Reform, a fringe common-law group, began holding seminars at the Hiltop Inn in Dallas, Dana went with Randy and ended up buying various books and tapes, attending more sessions than her husband. They both obtained through the mail "international drivers permits," which purport to have been issued in Managua, Nicaragua.

Out near Fruitvale, at the couple's Van Zandt County ranch, Randy had hooked up a generator-battery device that provided enough power to let them unhook from the grid. The two would listen on the shortwave to militia leader Bo Gritz, the former Green Beret commando who hosts a radio program for the far-right militia movement. One colleague in the radio business recalls seeing a picture of Angle in a militia beret, but those he has left behind who will talk about such matters aren't quite sure what affiliations he had.

Mostly, says Richard Youngblood, who worked for Angle for about 15 years, "Randy was out for one thing. That was helping Randy."


If there's one thing everyone agrees on about Randy Angle, it's that he was a genius with dispatch radios. "He was the most savvy technician in the DFW market," says one competitor. Most agree, too, that he was devious, smart, and calculating enough to build a business in a field where competitors would jerk with one another as they vied for control of the airwaves.Angle got his start in the Dallas area working for another shop -- Advanced Communications -- but in the early '80s he set up Quality Communications Inc. in a rented space in a Garland industrial park. Youngblood, who went to work for Angle and mistakenly thought he had been given an ownership stake in the business, says Angle started with one tower site -- above the Athena Condominiums on Northwest Highway near Preston Road -- and a couple of 800-MHz frequencies. They also did work installing car phones and fitting police cars with radios and lights.

Angle and Youngblood became friends and would go out to eat together with their families. Angle would constantly preach "about how I had to get my life right with God," says the lanky 42-year-old. On paydays, delivery of the check was usually preceded by hours of talk about God and redemption. Over beers, Angle told him he was foolish to pay taxes. Or he'd recall how fascinated he was with CB radios when he was a kid.

Mostly, though, the two worked long days and into the night visiting their tower sites, doing the frequently needed repairs and keeping their system on the air. A lightning strike that would knock everyone off the air could require back-to-back 20-hour days to set things straight. Radio repeaters -- the transmitters that under perfect conditions can send a signal in a 75-mile radius -- require a lot of work.

Within seven months of opening the business, Youngblood recalls, Dana bought a new car -- things seemed to be going that well. Angle realized that the business' success depended on expanding to more and more frequencies, by whatever means he could.

Under Federal Communications Commission rules, dispatch-radio frequencies could be used by several co-licensees. Also, if a licensee did not fully develop and use the channels in his network, regulators could take them away and award them to other operators. The government was more interested in making use of the system than making revenue from it, so the frequencies were obtained for nominal fees. At various times, too, there were limits on how many channels an individual could own.

With his temperament, Randy Angle would use all sorts of irregular methods to expand his business in this regulated world.

According to Youngblood, he'd put ownership of frequencies in different names to get around limits on how many one person could have.

"He'd tell me how he'd jam his competitors' stuff, play games with them," recalls Wayne Lott, owner of Delta Communications and Electronics, which rented so much air time from Angle that it accounted for about $40,000 of Angle's roughly $50,000 monthly revenue. "You've got a guy here who wasn't stupid. His IQ must be in the 145 range. He's a very intelligent person who doesn't like to say, 'Let's discuss things. Let's see if we can work it out.' Randy would decide the way he wanted things to work, and he'd make that happen. He was a taker, not a giver."

Another competitor, who asked not to be identified, says Angle would put his Spanish-speaking customers on shared channels with, say, high-end hotel clients who would become annoyed with the foreign language that came over their sets. Some would get so irritated that they'd simply drop the channel, leaving it for Angle to take over. On other shared channels he'd employ a "dead-key," which holds the frequency open similar to an open mike, thereby making them unusable. Others using the channel would be annoyed to the point where they would relent and pick up service elsewhere.

"One time I tried to dead-key him back, and he was ready with an immediate complaint to the FCC. I got a citation," the competitor laments. "He played me like a piano."

In the end, Angle had collected a set of 51 federal licenses and assembled a network spanning radio towers from Rockwall to Denton to west Fort Worth.

Then there was his secretive, paranoid side.

"Everything he did was shady," says Weathersby, who now works on the Dallas County government's radio system. Weathersby worked for Angle for a brief time in the mid-'80s and was perplexed at the way he "used 14 different names to run under, aliases."

Subsequent legal actions turned up names such as Randy James, NCE-CPA, Conventional Systems, Dana Smith, 2WC Inc., Q-Com, PTR Leasing, S.S.P. Leasing, and Rayburn Properties.

"Randy was secretive about everything," recalls Lott. "I'm sending him $40,000 a month, and he'd never give me a phone number where I could reach him. It would always be a beeper; he was very secretive about his life."

Paula, who did billing and accounting work for the business in later years, can understand his stealthy ways: Not once did she see evidence that he was paying income or business taxes. His approach to money was simple: He'd buy gold and bury it in the back yard. After he disappeared, her attorney says, they found empty, freshly dug holes all around the place.


The thin wall Randy Angle erected around himself caved in all at once.His daughter Paula had left home at age 17 and married John Jenkins, whom she had met in church.

After four years and two children, Paula moved back with her family and began living in a trailer at their ranch in Van Zandt County. In 1997, she went back to work at the family business. "She had an understanding that Randy would leave her alone," says Brenda Collier, Paula's attorney.

And Randy did -- until early October 1998, when he called her to a back room. "It's nothing to be upset about," he told her after the rape, a police report states. "It's just a bodily function, and you probably needed it too." As before, fear and embarrassment kept her from turning her father in.

Attempting to smooth things over that very week, Angle bought a new Dodge Ram pickup, which he put under another alias, "PNT Leasing." He told her it stood for "Paula's new truck." Paula said she wanted to help pay for the truck and began making payments.

Paula continued to work at the Garland radio shop -- where she could work part-time and take her children to work -- until March 1999. She had started dating a paramedic, Chad LaPrade, which led to more trouble.

"His thinking was sick, but he didn't approve of me being with anybody else," Paula says, explaining Randy's growing jealousy.

In mid-March, after Paula returned from church with her boyfriend, Angle informed her he was taking back the truck, which escalated pressure on her to quit seeing LaPrade. A week later, Angle evicted her from the ranch and forced her to walk down to the gate with her kids and what she could carry.

A week after that, Paula gave her statement to Garland police, hired Collier, and started fighting back.

Angle, arrested within days, made his $5,000 bail after five days in jail.

Meanwhile, his wife attempted to ready the business for sale, and either Randy or Dana began shopping around about a third of their 51 licenses. Some of those licenses had been placed in Paula's name only a month earlier, which complicated attempts to liquidate. Collier says the Angles were required as part of a new FCC rule to provide tax identification and Social Security numbers to renew those licenses. So they put the licenses in their daughter's name as the sole shareholder and director of 2WC, Inc., which they incorporated in Delaware.

In late April, when Paula went to the Rockwall house to retrieve some of her and her children's possessions, Dana confronted her and demanded that she sign papers assigning the licenses to the Angles. Paula had other things to talk about, recalling later that she brought up the years of abuse and almost had her mother convinced of Randy Angle's crimes.

"She got pretty close to accepting it, but she didn't," the daughter says now. "She is still in denial."

When Paula continued to refuse to sign away the licenses, Dana assaulted her, the daughter alleged in a police report and a civil lawsuit she filed the next month. She came away with scratches and bruises.


In court, Dana's common-law defense attempts took the biggest pounding.In late May 1999, Paula filed suit in Dallas County alleging rape, invasion of privacy, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, wrongful eviction, and wrongful termination -- and requested that a receiver and injunction be put in place to prevent the Angles from dissolving the business.

Instead of hiring a lawyer to defend the case, Dana Angle appeared on her own behalf or in the company of people her daughter suspects she knew from her far-right affiliations, and filled the court file with bizarre paperwork.

Maneuvering into position for the legal kill, Paula's lawyer dropped Dana Angle from the suit, and within two months obtained an $11.5 million judgment against Randy. On the run from the law, he never appeared and lost by default.

Not wanting to turn her mother out of her house, Paula attempted to negotiate with Dana Angle a settlement that would allow her to keep the Rockwall house, a mobile home that had been parked on the Van Zandt County ranch, a 5-year-old pickup truck, $12,000, two dogs, and a paint horse. In return, she was to release all the claims she had loaded into the court file -- and state records -- that purported to hold Paula and her lawyer liable for $12 billion. It was called, in the gobbledygook favored by the common-law folks, a "notice of acceptance for value and exempt from levy," and read, "I, Dana Edna Angle, accept for value of $12 billion your commercial presentment."

Asked what that meant during a deposition that fall, Dana said, "That means I hold you accountable for the things that have been done for $12 billion."

"Where did you get the number $12 billion?" Collier asked.

"I guess the same way people come up with $11 million for lawsuit judgments," Dana replied.

Dana Angle agreed to the settlement, according to a videotape made of the September 1999 deposition. Yet, for reasons nobody can explain, she declined to sign it and, like her husband, went underground.

All that was left for Paula to do was liquidate the business through the court-appointed receiver, James Chiles, who is also an expert in the local communications business.

For the bulk of Angle's licenses, there was one obvious buyer. Since the late '80s, Nextel had been buying up hundreds of local operators in the two-way radio business in order to obtain airwaves on which to expand its cellular phone system. The 800-MHz range, one of several available to two-way radio operators, is also suitable for cellular phones. Using digital technology, their capacity could be vastly increased, several operators in the business explained.

By this spring, Chiles had completed the sale of Angle's frequencies to Nextel and raised another $300,000 by selling another set of frequencies to Delta Communications.

Paula is now remarried and raising five children -- ages three months to 9 years -- at a rural ranch whose location she'd rather not discuss. "Nobody comes up my road; I'd like to keep it like that," she says. She and her new husband had their own child, and each brought two into the marriage.

She says she's using her new wealth to bring some stability to her family -- something she never felt before. "My husband and I have a normal relationship, and I can see now my parents didn't," she says. "Right now I'm getting counseling to get that taken care of. I have a lot to get behind me."

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