A CLOSER LOOK: missing for 19 years, but not forgotten; Angela Mack-Cox & ‘Mikey’ Rettew memorial planned

A Closer Look

Photo designed by Diamond & Co. Marketing. Photo used with permission.

FULTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Angela Mack-Cox and her young son Thomas Michael “Mikey” Rettew will be memorialized at the Fairview Cemetery in Salem, Arkansas. The plan is to have a headstone placed at the site that reads, “tragically taken from us far too soon 2002,” along with their names, dates, and a frog — Angela liked frogs, according to her family.

Joy and Phil Mack, Angie’s stepmom and dad have coordinated with the cemetery for a service, but the exact date is yet to be announced. “We will have a service there in late September or early October depending on when the stone is ready,” said Joy.

Justice for Angie Founder Tiffany Thomas contacted Arkansas-based CNW Headstone Foundation about getting a headstone ordered and the cost, once the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) declared the case as solved in early April 2021.

“Tiffany sent in an application through social media and we approved it. On June 2, we began a fundraiser and exceeded our $500 goal in four days with 14 donations,” said CNW Headstone Foundation founder Brooklyn Holtz.

“This one broke my heart a little bit by them not having someone to bury, so the memorial is at least something,” said Holtz.

Image designed by Diamond & Co. Marketing. Diamond, OH. Used with permission.

ABOUT CNW Headstone Foundation

The nonprofit is located in Greenwood, Arkansas, and was created in 2018. “Shortly after our youngest son passed away, at seven months, my husband and I created the foundation,” said Brooklyn Holtz. “The two letters in the name are meaningful. The “C” is the first child’s headstone we did, her name was Chelsey, “N” is for ‘and,’ and the “W” is for our son, William.” The foundation has provided nearly 20 headstones since its inception. “We try to help as many people as possible because, for us, having to prepare for a funeral there were so many things we didn’t know how or what to do,” she said, “and ordering a headstone was a new challenge.”

In three years, the foundation has provided families with headstones from Ohio to New Mexico, South Carolina to Indiana, and states in between.

FRIENDS SHARE THOUGHTS ABOUT “ANGIE & MIKEY” MEMORIAL

“JUSTICE FOR ANGIE” FOUNDER, TIFFANY THOMAS: The nonprofit is dedicated to helping families with the burden of purchasing a headstone and assisted with a fundraiser for Angie and Mikey’s shared headstone. “The headstone will be placed at Fairview Cemetery at the request of her living son Matthew sometime this coming fall,” said Thomas.

This means a lot to me personally. “I felt that it is my personal obligation to see Angie and Mikey honored with a monument, and most importantly that it would be placed near where her remaining son resides,” said Thomas. “I am extremely grateful to CNW Headstone for their assistance in providing Angie and Mikey with a headstone and thankful for all the other families they assist who face this burden during an already devastating time,” said Thomas.

BRANDY IRELAND BITNER: Angie was probably 16 or 17 when I met her and Mikey — we were neighbors in Salem. I had my own three children, my youngest child was born in April 1998 and Mikey was born in July of the same year. Angie and I would dance, talk, have sleepovers — she was my best friend! I felt I needed her and she needed me. When Angie headed to California in 2000, she couldn’t take Mikey so I kept him. Her plan was to get a better job on the west coast than what Salem had to offer because she wanted to do better for the boys. We did guardianship paperwork prior to her leaving, three months became a year, but she would call and talk to Mikey when she could.

Angie’s written note to Mike, circa 2000. Used with permission from Brandy Ireland Bitner.

In late 2001, she returned for Mikey. I thought, and suggested, for her to stay with me so Mikey could get acclimated to her being around, but that didn’t happen. It broke my heart … I moved away but was still in Arkansas. In 2014, September or October, I heard about a missing girl from Stuttgart, and on my social media page was also a little boy who was missing from Missouri. It was Mikey! I freaked out. I tried to be proactive and created a “Help Find Thomas Mikey Rettew” page. Angie brother’s Greg helped and shared information he had about his sister but got nowhere.

JAMES COX & DEIDRA JONES: We want to thank CNW Foundation for help with a memorial headstone. Their complete dedication is amazing and they are just extraordinary. Angie and Mikey have waited long enough for a memorial service, and not blaming anyone, but it has been long overdue. That’s what we would want for ourselves, James, and I, no matter what the circumstances. While we do wish remains had been recovered, at least the memorial offers some closure. We are super excited about the memorial and the placing of the headstone. We look forward to attending and taking pictures when the headstone is placed. However, at the same time, we really wish her family had a memorial closer to them, too! James and I have been together for almost 10 years and we have talked about Angie often. Every once in a while I find myself looking through unidentified photos looking for Angie and Mike. NamUS did not have the correct photo of Angie, which we tried to change, but unfortunately, it seemed as if nobody cared and you would get blown off without question! We asked law enforcement several times about Angie and Mikey and told them they had the wrong photo on NamUS!

Message sent to missing people organizations from Deidra Jones. Used with permission.

When James filed for divorce from Angie, we told the attorney that she was missing and about the wrong photo, hoping that someone could possibly help us get it changed. We don’t know how that happened, but hopefully, it doesn’t happen to others who have missing loved ones. On the upside, it was encouraging that law enforcement actually came and picked up some documents regarding Angie during the recent investigation. We had x-rays from her and James’ car accident, her social security card, and those were given to the investigator. In 2020, was the first time James had ever been questioned about Angie or Mikey’s disappearance.

“ANGIE & MIKEY” GO MISSING

Mikey was reported missing by his father, Thomas Rettew, in 2002. Mack-Cox was reported missing in 2004. There were two locations listed as “last seen” for the young mom and son — Salem, Arkansas, or Alton, Missouri. Meanwhile, on the west coast, Angie’s former classmate, Tiffany, wanted to reunite with her, but only to find out her friend had been missing for nearly two decades. In 2019, Tiffany Thomas, of Escondido, California, started her search and contacted several missing person agencies and law enforcement in Fulton County, Arkansas. By 2020, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are investigating the case. In April 2021, the FCSO announced that both, mom and son, were murdered, and their bodies burned in a furnace at an Alton, Missouri farm in late 2002 or early 2003.

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