Overview of Angela McConnell
Angela McConnell was a 26-year-old indigenous woman of the Hoopa Tribe, with additional Mojave, Karuk, and Yurok roots as well. She had taken initial classes pursuing a degree in nursing, and her ultimate objectives were to be a journalist and a creative writer. Angela was a proficient writer and was distinguished at creating stories, writing poetry, and the visual arts.
“Music is my sweet life. Together as one against all others; Until the Lord calls me home, May I always be in His good graces; So, may it be the best year’s always, The never-ending Story of Ang…”
On September 7, 2018, all of Angela’s dreams were taken away. Angela’s mother, Tammy Carpenter received a call at work that changed her life. Angela and her boyfriend, Michael Bingham were found brutally murdered. Michael’s sister, Kristina Bingham was the one to have made the call.
Emotional and stunned, Tammy’s boss drove her to her home in Hoopa, nearly two hours from work. There, Tammy gathered her family to drive over two hours to Redding near Shasta Lake, California.
Angela and Michael had been found in what was reportedly a homeless or transient camp it seemed they were staying in at the time. Nearly 20 Shasta County Sherriff’s Office (SCSO) deputies, investigators, and other personnel were dispatched around 12:15 p.m. on that date to investigate the double homicide.
Michael’s father, Michael Bingham Sr., who apparently lived very near the camp, was reportedly the one who found the couple. Authorities say he stated he was checking on them in the woods when he discovered them, shot in the head.
After they arrived in Redding to the Sheriff’s office, Tammy tried to get information. She had no idea why Angela was in that area. There were several officers in the parking lot she first approached who did not want to speak to her. After insisting someone be called to help her, a detective finally informed Tammy that Angela was already at the coroner’s office. Later, when a detective did speak with Tammy, he showed no sensitivity to her loss and abruptly started questioning if she knew Angela was on drugs and was living like a homeless person. She felt as if she and her family were being accused of the same things as well and felt it necessary to point out that they were educated, hardworking people.
When the family requested to see Angela, they were not allowed in to see her stating that there was too much damage to recognize her. Sheriff’s department had used Facebook and then eventually fingerprints to identify Angela rather than having family ID her.
Though there seemed to be little in the way of leads, there was additional background information regarding the relationship between Angela and Michael. Michael was abusive to Angela to the point at one time she had a restraining order against him from the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council. That didn’t seem to last, and Angela was hours away from her family when she was staying with Michael. In addition, the circumstances that Michael’s father found them under was a bit odd. An incident was shared with Angela’s family; a week before the murders, there was an altercation between Michael Jr. and his father Michael Sr. who then had been said to pull a gun on them. No other details of this confrontation are currently available. As alluded to by the officer who spoke to Tammy, it also became known that Michael was heavily into drugs and apparently Angela had begun to use them to some degree as well, leaving the avenue open that the murders could have been drug related.
Though this hasn’t been confirmed, it is felt by the family that there is a lack of forensic evidence in part because the crime scene was never roped off or secured, allowing anyone access to the area. This is just one detail that seems to be in line with lack of attention to indigenous cases by law enforcement. It is known as well, however, that the police department in Shasta Lake is understaffed and this could contribute to difficulties for investigations.
In the first year following the murders, there had been 3 investigators but very few leads. And, again because law enforcement had such infrequent communication with the family, this continues to make them feel like Angela is just another dead indigenous girl to add to the statistics.
Where things are today
Angela’s family and friends have held or attended several events in honor of Angela’s murder and of all missing and murdered indigenous people in an effort to keep Angela and the others in the public eye.
As of 2021, approximately 83% of indigenous women experience violence in their lifetime. About half of indigenous victims in Northern California experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. And only approximately 9% of murders against indigenous women in California are solved.
Angela’s case is still unsolved. There is a reward offered by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office matched by the Hoopa Tribal Council of $30,000 in total and a billboard is displayed for Angela not from where the murders took place.