TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Angela Crowley had a lot of job offers when she graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1985, but she chose to move from Ogle County to Florida because she loved the water and could pursue her dreams to travel.
About 5 months later, those dreams ended when William Frederick Happ kidnapped, raped and murdered the 1983 Oregon High School graduate as she was traveling to meet a friend for a Memorial Day weekend at the beach in May 1986.
Happ, 51, is now scheduled to be executed Oct. 15.
"I never questioned her moving to Florida. I always thought it was a good move on her part," her brother, Chris Crowley, now of Newburg, Mo., said Wednesday. "She loved it. That was a key thing. She had several job offers, but that's the one she chose because of the location, because of the weather, because of the water."
Crowley helped move his 21-year-old sister from Oregon to Fort Lauderdale during the Christmas holiday season. He hasn't been back to Florida since.
"After she was killed, I made a vow that there was no way in the world I could go to Florida until this was resolved," Crowley said.
Now he's making plans to travel to Starke, where Happ, 51, will be executed at Florida State Prison, barring any last minute appeals.
Gov. Rick Scott signed the death warrant Tuesday, when Happ was moved to the prison, where the execution chamber is located.
The execution is long overdue, Crowley said. Another sister of his died just 6 days before Scott signed the warrant. Their mother, Julienne Myers, died 5 years ago. Aunts and uncles and other relatives who've been waiting for the execution also have died.
"I keep watching relatives drop, and he's still there. It just seems that's not the way it's supposed to work," Crowley said. "Those that were there that night when that happened, they're all gone."
Crowley remembers talking to his sister for a long time the night before she was murdered. She was a travel agent; it was her first chance to take a long weekend and he made sure she had maps and directions to get to her friend's location in Yankeetown along the north Gulf coast.
"My sister could get lost backing out of a driveway," he said.
In fact, she did get lost, making a wrong turn along the way that cost her about an hour. She called her friend to say she would be late. Her friend told her that when she got to Crystal River to go a specific convenience store and use the pay phone to call her and she would come show her the rest of the way to the rural home.
That call never came.
When Crowley arrived at the closed convenience storeáMay 25, 1986, Happ smashed her car window, kidnapped her and brought her to a canal, where he beat her, raped her and then strangled her with her pants. He threw her body in the canal, where a fisherman found it the next day.
Happ, who was a painter from Gilroy, Calif., was in a California prison serving a sentence for kidnapping and robbery in another case when authorities said his fingerprints linked him to Crowley's murder.
He was sentenced to death 24 years ago, in 1989 and her family has waited ever since for the sentence to be carried out.
"When my mother passed away 5 years ago, she said 'You stay on top of them. Make sure this thing gets done," Crowley said.
He set up an online petition asking Scott to sign the death warrant and began emailing Scott and his staff.
So when his phone rang Tuesday, Crowley got the news he had been waiting for more than two decades. Scott signed Happ's death warrant.
"As soon as the phone rang and I saw the 850 area code, I thought, 'That's Florida. That can only be good news," he said.
Angela Crowley was a high school cheerleader and honors student who loved to travel. She also was known for community service, mentoring other students at college, boating and water skiing and playing the flute.
"She has tons of friends," Crowley said, adding that he was a letter carrier and his mother was the city clerk in Oregon. The family knew a lot of people in the northern Illinois town of about 3,000. "This affected the entire town. It shook it to its core."
The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. contributed to this report.