Sep 20, 2022 - News

SMU student's murder inspired friend to become a private investigator

Illustration of a folder with a question mark cut out of the center.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sheila Wysocki's private investigations business in Nashville has Dallas roots — she was a student at SMU when her friend's murder went unsolved.

Flashback: Angela Samota was found sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed inside her apartment after a night out in October 1984.

  • The case went cold. Twenty years later, Wysocki decided to look into it herself while living in Nashville with her husband and two children.
  • Wysocki turned her family's study into a "war room" and called Dallas police hundreds of times to beg them to reopen the case.
  • She became licensed as a private investigator to keep pushing for answers.

The turning point: Dallas police eventually tested DNA from the scene and, in 2008, linked it to a man out on parole for a prior rape conviction at the time of Samota's murder, state records show.

The intrigue: Wysocki decided to keep her PI license after seeing how many other families need help.

  • She's appeared in People magazine, the BBC and the podcast "Criminal."
  • "These families at least deserve a phone call, something I did not have," she tells Axios.

What's next: Wysocki plans to resume her other cases after the civil trial related to Crews' death, but she says she will always be a fierce ally of the Crews family. They've shared countless phone calls and meals, even driving to the Coppell police department to pray for its officers together.

  • She hopes the upcoming trial will put the Crews family's questions to rest and give them the closure they're seeking.
  • "I feel these families' pain like you would not believe, and it's heartbreaking. We shouldn't do that to people, and these are good people — good human beings," she says.
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