Linked by tragedy

Police found two bodies on the same day 11 months ago but have filed charges related to only one death

March 19, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • A collage of photos of the late Kristy Dawn Hoke is displayed at Hagerstown's City Park during a candlelight vigil for Hoke.
Herald-Mail file photo

It was exceptionally warm early on the morning of April 6, 2010, when Jeffrey Miles stood on a bridge and looked out over the northbound lanes of Interstate 81.

Police said Miles threatened suicide and mused about "evil and demons" inside him after officers arrived at 2:30 a.m.

Was Miles sincere? Or was the threat a ploy undertaken because he knew authorities were investigating him in connection with the death of a Hagerstown woman?

Whatever his intentions, Miles didn't jump and instead left the bridge in police custody. Later that day, he was charged with criminal homicide in the death of Kristy Dawn Hoke, whose body was found, in part, because of a conversation Miles' son had with police.

According to court documents, Miles later that day took investigators to the woods off East Ninth Street in Waynesboro, Pa. There, in a small clearing surrounded by brambles, police found the slashed body of Hoke.

The Hagerstown mother of three, identified in court as a police informant, had been reported missing days earlier.

At noon on the day Hoke's body was found, troopers descended on a farm adjacent to the underpass between Waynesboro and Greencastle, Pa.

"As a result of this (Hoke) investigation, information was developed that led troopers to a wooded area off state Route 16 in Washington Township. ... Upon the troopers' arrival there, they discovered skeletal remains that were partially concealed by vegetation and overgrowth," Trooper Tom Pinkerton said at a news conference at the time.

Dental records identified the remains as those of Angie Lynn Daley, who was 17 in 1995 when her family in Waynesboro reported her missing.

No one has been charged in Daley's death.

Eleven months have passed since the bodies of Hoke and Daley were found near the Maryland border.

A daughter disappears

Sunday Gossert was surprised when she learned she was pregnant with her first child. She and Angie's father, Clarence Daley, married five months into the pregnancy, preparing for the child's birth with the nervousness not uncommon for first-time parents.

Gossert spent 16 hours in labor before Angie's entrance into the world on Nov. 28, 1977, at Waynesboro Hospital. She weighed 6 pounds 6 ounces and didn't have a single hair on her head.

"We have a lot of pictures of her, with her being the first born," Sunday Gossert said.

"Angie was a good child. She didn't cry a lot," Clarence Daley said.

Sister Ashley was born 5 1/2 years later, and brother, Eddie, followed 3 1/2 years after that.

Angie, who started talking at age 2, enjoyed helping to clean and cook. Mother and daughter listened to the rock band AC/DC when Angie got older, and she taught her grandmother to play "Tetris" on Nintendo.

Angie's parents divorced when she was 11, and after that, she took care of her younger sister and brother while living with Clarence Daley, Gossert said.

Gossert said she suspects that Angie resented stepping into a motherly role, then "broke loose" when she turned 16 and started driving.

Angie would stay out for a few days at a time, and at least once, she hitched a ride across the country with a truck driver. Gossert said Angie ended up in California, and Clarence Daley said he received a call from Angie when she was in Texas.

But when Gossert's second husband, David Lehnhart, died in January 1995, Angie stayed around the house and comforted her mother.

The last exchange Gossert remembers having with her oldest daughter was paying Angie's speeding ticket before Angie and her siblings left for their annual beach trip with their father.

For years, Gossert carried in her wallet the last note she had from her daughter, who wrote "Mom, went to McDonald's. Be back. Don't leave. Love, Angie" in looping letters.

That crumpled note is tucked in a picture frame with an 8-by-10-inch copy of one of the final pictures taken of Angie.

Angie often would hang out at Waynesboro's McDonald's with other teenagers, her parents said.

On Aug. 24, 1995, after they returned from the beach, Clarence Daley dropped Angie off at a friend's house on Waynesboro's Hawbaker Avenue.

Her family never heard from her again.

They waited a couple of weeks before reporting Angie missing.

"We just figured that it was another adventure," Sunday Gossert said, noting she'd keep from worrying by recalling the time her daughter disappeared to go on the cross-country trek and returned safely.

Police had been contacted in previous instances of Angie leaving home, so Clarence Daley suspects officers weren't too concerned when told she had gone missing after that beach trip.

"They brushed it off that she had run off," he said.

Others, however, felt something was amiss almost immediately.

"We were scared for her. We wondered where she was," said Suzi Delarnoux, Angie's counselor at Manito, an alternative school.

Sunday Gossert said Angie did fairly well in traditional school until she reached ninth grade. She said her oldest daughter didn't fit into the high school environment, so she attended Manito for two years.

While there, Angie thrived and led a very social life in the smaller classes, Delarnoux said.

"I think she felt like she belonged," Delarnoux said.

Delarnoux said Angie was nicknamed the "spark plug" at school because she was energetic and funny.

"She wanted to please her parents," Delarnoux said. "She wanted to make something of herself."

It was those family connections that caused Delarnoux to doubt Angie had run away and never called.

"She loved her family," Delarnoux said.

A mother taken

Kristy Hoke's family said the Hagerstown woman was first and foremost a mother to her three children.

"It's a shock for everybody," said Beverly Durboraw, who now is raising her grandchildren.

Durboraw said Kristy's "happy-go-lucky" disposition was only disrupted if someone spoke disparagingly of her children, who range in age from 4 to 15.

"She did not like anyone to talk about her children," Durboraw said.

Durboraw said her daughter's absence is profoundly felt in the family, especially as Kristy's oldest daughter gets ready for the prom and Kristy isn't there to help her choose a dress or a hairstyle.

"She's not going to see her graduate or get married," Durboraw said.

Kristy's passion in her youth was competitive roller-skating, which led to travels for competitions. As a girl, she once competed in Indiana.

Kristy, who was 29 when she died, had a younger brother, Gary, and a stepbrother.

Almost six years ago, Kristy married Ronald Lee Hoke Jr. In late 2007, Kristy filed criminal charges and sought a temporary protective order against him, but her mother said they were reconciling and making plans for the future at the time of her death.

Ronald Hoke said he met his wife, whom he called "Krissy," Nov. 3, 2003, through his cousin. He said they traveled in the same circles for years but had not met before that.

"Krissy and I were best friends, soulmates and our family began to form," Hoke wrote in a tear-stained letter.

They were married May 13, 2005, in a courthouse ceremony, and Ronald Hoke wrote they dreamed of renewing their vows someday in a big church ceremony. He said his wife loved breakfast in bed and also enjoyed shopping, interior decorating, cooking, the Lifetime channel, cleaning, watching movies and playing video games.

"Above all, we loved being in the company of each other with our children. ... The kids were her world, her everything," wrote Hoke, an inmate at Roxbury Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown.

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