Angie Picker, a 28-year-old aspiring model and former exotic dancer, was found dead in a bathtub in her Royal Oak home a year ago. But the mystery over what happened remains, and closure is elusive for friends and family who still mourn the loss.
Picker, who was described by loved ones as beautiful inside and out, was found unresponsive after a 911 call on April 14, 2011.
While Picker's friends and family still wait for answers, they remember her as someone who was adventurous, but who was on the verge of making serious changes in her life.
“She was beautiful in every way,” said Keily Pratt of Taylor. Picker was Pratt’s maid of honor at her 2003 wedding. “She was amazing and caring — she was something else.”
After responding to a late afternoon 911 call last April, Royal Oak officers found Picker dead inside her home in the 2000 block of East 11 Mile Road. A month later, on May 17, Deputy Oakland County Medical Examiner Dr. Bernardino Pacris amended Picker’s death certificate and listed the manner of her death as homicide.
Picker’s blood toxicology showed no sign of a drug overdose and the ME ruled out organ failure, such as a heart attack, as the cause of death. Without evidence of something rendering her unconscious, Pacris said, he ruled it a homicide.
The medical examiner did not indicate if there were any signs of a struggle.
In the months following her suspicious death, the Royal Oak police have not released any details and have stated repeatedly the case is still under investigation.
Friends and family wait – and remember with fondness Picker's ambitions and loving nature.
“Yes she was a dancer and she did drugs,” Pratt said. “But she also had a serious side and was very businesslike. When it was time for Angie to get straight, she put her game face on.”
Picker did some modeling and landed a couple of movie roles as an extra. She told Pratt she wanted to get out of dancing and was thinking of pursuing a real estate career.
“She wanted to be a model. She tried and tried – we have pictures galore of her – but she wasn’t that tall,” said Picker’s mother Renee Lockhart, of Rose City, MI. “But all her friends were having babies and she realized she was getting older and she wanted to settle down and have a baby, too. She was getting her life together. That is what makes this so hard.”
Lockhart said Picker, her only child, went to visit her in northern Michigan for three weeks shortly before her death. “She was a good girl,” said Lockhart. “She called me everyday.”
After being back in Royal Oak for only a few days, Pratt said Picker told her she called her mother on a Tuesday and asked her to come and get her and bring her back to Rose City.
“Her mom told her she would have to wait until Thursday,” Pratt said. That Thursday, instead of picking up her daughter, Lockhart answered a knock on the door from the West Branch sheriff, who told her that her daughter was dead, she said.
“We loved her to death,” Lockhart said. “Everyone knew she was a dancer. They didn’t shame her for what she did. She was always laughing and smiling. She was so sweet.”
What bothers Lockhart and Pratt was that Picker was found in a bathtub. Both women insist Picker only took showers. Lockhart said her daughter was diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer and worried baths were unhealthy.
Pratt is also uncomfortable with the notion of homicide.
“I cannot imagine why someone would want to hurt her,” Pratt said. “She didn’t do people wrong. It had to be some kind of accident.”
Pratt believes there are a handful of people that might know what caused Picker’s death nearly one year ago.
“I hope someone comes forward and will tell what they know,” she said. “If it was an accident, I hope someone would feel some sort of guilt.”
If you have information you want to share anonymously, call Crime Stoppers of Southeast Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK UP.