Schenectady County

Glenville cold case: Search resumed for woman who disappeared in 1979 (with photo gallery)

A more than three-decades-old missing person case is now being revisited in Glenville, a prosecutor

A more than three-decades-old missing person case is now being revisited in Glenville, a prosecutor confirmed Wednesday.

The case involves Agnes Shoe, who was 37 when she disappeared under suspicious circumstances from her Glenville home at 30 Olde Coach Road in June 1979.

William Sanderson of the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office confirmed the case was being looked at again. He declined to give further details, including what might have sparked the renewed interest in the case or whether anything of value to the investigation had been found.

Sanderson’s confirmation came as a backhoe was moving earth Wednesday in the woods behind where Shoe once lived. A Chevy truck with a decal reading “Bloodhound Unit” was parked at nearby Country Fair Lane. At the scene, Detective Michael Lamb referred all questions to Glenville Chief Michael Ranalli, who did not return a message left for comment. More details are expected to be released today.

Next-door neighbors Jeff and Janice Wilson said Wednesday that police were searching the wooded area between Olde Coach Road and Country Fair Lane.

“They had cadaver dogs that were going behind the houses,” Jeff Wilson said.

The Wilsons were just returning from a vacation and said they had a message from a Glenville detective, stating that the case had been reopened and police wanted to interview them again.

The Shoe family kept to themselves, according to Jeff Wilson. “We didn’t know them very well. They were very quiet.”

Janice Wilson recalled searching the woods 32 years ago with the other neighbors. Police also brought in a medium.

The case baffled investigators at the time.

“It was just like she disappeared off the face of the Earth without a clue,” retired Glenville police detective Karl Batzinger, who worked the case, said when reached Wednesday by telephone at his home in Glenville.

Relatives told authorities that it was out of character for Shoe to leave without notifying her family. She regularly spoke on the phone with her mother and sister, according to newspaper accounts at the time.

Shoe’s keys and purse were in the house, which was locked, according to Batzinger. “There wasn’t anything in the house that would indicate any foul play,” he said.

Shoe, who was known to friends as Ginger, was a former Franciscan nun who met her husband when they both worked at Six Flags amusement park in Connecticut. They got married and moved to New Jersey and then to the Capital Region, according to newspaper accounts.

Richard Shoe operated his own transmission business in Clifton Park for a time but it went bankrupt, according to Batzinger. He then found a job in the offices of a New York City-based trucking company. He worked there during the week and was coming home on weekends to their rented house in Glenville on Olde Coach Road.

“He was probably two months down there before she disappeared,” Batzinger said.

The Friday before her disappearance, she had quit her job at the former NL Industries and was planning to relocate to be with her husband.

Richard Shoe became worried when she didn’t answer his telephone calls. He came back and she was gone.

“The neighbors had seen her the day before because she was around and she jogged all the time,” Batzinger said. Police interviewed neighbors and searched the woods around the house, even bringing in cadaver dogs. “We did everything we could at the time. There just wasn’t any leads,” he said.

At other times in the investigation, state police even brought in psychics and a witch who had a feeling that Shoe’s body was buried under the foundation of a new home. “We even dug up around some foundations but there was nothing that was discovered,” Batzinger said. In September 1996, Shoe’s sister Rita Omar had hired an astrologer who drew a map indicating that she might be on Long Island.

Attempts to reach Richard Shoe Wednesday were not successful.

Batzinger continued to work on the case off and on and kept in contact with Richard Shoe and the friends the couple had in the area. The detective contacted her sister to get a hair sample so investigators would have a family member’s DNA for comparison. He even wanted to obtain ground penetration radar from the military but that was not successful.

The case got a fresh look in 2005 by Batzinger and other retired detectives as part of a state police task force. Not much progress was made before he retired from the force in 2006 at the rank of detective sergeant. The case still eats at him, he said.

“You can only do so much unless you have solid leads.”

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