Police again fish for leads in local girl’s baffling 1985 disappearance

Bell County Crime Stoppers posted an age-progression photo from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that shows Angelica Gandara as she may appear today. (Bell County Crimestoppers)
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Police are again fishing for leads in the baffling disappearance of Angelica Gandara who set out on a two-block walk from her family’s home to her grandmother’s house on July 14, 1985 in Temple, but never arrived.

Bell County Crime Stoppers posted an age-progression photo from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that shows Gandara as she may appear today.

She was 11 when she disappeared and if she’s still alive, she’s now 45.

According to some reports, someone saw her with a man and a woman in a blue and white pickup truck that had a red and white hood.

Investigators have looked at several possible suspects in the disappearance, including Ohio prison inmate David Elliot Penton, 61, a convicted serial child killer who was charged in the death of his 2-month-old son in 1984 while he was serving at Fort Hood.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and then fled while free on bond.

Three years later he was arrested, tried and convicted of killing a 9-year-old Ohio girl.

Dallas-area investigators questioned him about the abductions and murders of three young girls between January 1985 and February 1986, during the period when he was on the run, and in 2003 he was indicted for capital murder in Collin County.

He avoided a possible death sentence two years later by pleading guilty to the murders for which he received concurrent life sentences.

He's also a suspect in the disappearance of girls in Texas and a half-dozen other states.

He remains in the Toledo Correctional Institution, serving his sentence for the murder of the 9-year-old girl.

In September 1997, investigators focused briefly on Ramiro Ibarra, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the beating, rape and strangulation of a 16-year-old girl in March 1987 in Waco.

He was arrested soon after the murder, but was later released after judge suppressed certain evidence in the case.

Changes in the law, however, allowed prosecutors to pursue to bring Ibarra to trial nearly a decade later.

Ibarra is now 65.

He's been on Texas death row since December 1997.

Efforts to link him to Gandara's disappearance were unsuccessful.