Angela Rader (left), and Tammy Akers (right), both age 14, disappeared from Roanoke, Virginia on February 7, 1977.
Some reports state that the two girls were dropped off at school by one of their relatives, and were never seen again. Other reports state that Tammy had told her mother she was going to meet Angela Rader, and they disappeared.
Tammy and Angela had run away together a time or two in the past, so initially it was not such a big concern. But this time was different.
Tammy, for several years, had been associating with a man named Earl Bramblett. His father, who was known as “Old Man Bramblett”, had a silk screen printing shop down the block from where Tammy lived. Tammy had been given permission to help out in the shop with cleaning and odd jobs. Earl Bramblett was often at the shop also, and took a liking to Tammy. It was not known at this time that he was a pedophile.
Tammy often accompanied Earl and his family on outings, and would spend the night at their home. He would give her gifts on a regular basis, and she believed that he loved her. Tammy’s older sister would be present on some of the outings, and reports that she was fondled by Earl Bramblett on multiple occasions. Her attempts to report this were not taken seriously, and she was told that she was just jealous of her youngest sister.
Following Tammy’s disappearance, Earl Bramblett had a group of juveniles in his basement, when out of the blue he “went crazy” and started sobbing, saying he wished he hadn’t hurt Tammy, and that he loved her. He then pulled a gun and fired shots into the walls. This incident was reported to police, and the bullets were found where the witnesses said they would be.
Later, Earl Bramblett was convicted of killing a family of four, who he had been boarding with at the time. The family consisted of a husband, wife, and two daughters. He was executed by the State of Virginia, and never revealed what he might have known about Tammy and Angela’s disappearance. Prior to Bramblett’s execution, he has stated that Tammy and Angela died in a bonfire in Florida, and that the police know all about it.
“How does one die in a bonfire?” I asked myself. But then I figured out what he was referring to. I don’t agree with his theory, but will still briefly explain it.
There was a girl who was killed, then burned in a fire, at a party spot in rural Pasco County, Florida in 1979. According to witnesses, they did not know the girl personally, but they heard others call her Tammy.
The girl was later identified as Linda Gale Bradshaw, but there was some question as to whether the identification was correct. According to news articles on this case, which can be viewed here and here, the identification was made using only a fingerprint comparison. The fingerprint was lifted from a photo album found at her parents home.
When Bradshaw’s parents first learned of the unidentified body, they requested to view the corpse to determine whether or not it was their daughter. Their request was declined, and police showed them a photograph of a deceased woman, who, according to them, was not their daughter.
They claim they were later shown a different photo, of a different deceased female, whom they also doubted was their daughter.
Linda’s parents strongly believed that her boyfriend was responsible for her disappearance, and could not connect her to the two men accused of killing Jane Doe and burning her body. The two men were convicted, however, and sentenced to death, despite her family’s objections. Their convictions were later overturned.
Because one of these men was affiliated with a motorcycle club, Earl Bramblett pointed out that he’d heard that Tammy and Angela had broken out of a juvenile detention center, with the help of bikers, and run off to Florida. He stated that Tammy had told him that she planned to run away to Florida.
Therefore, he claims that this victim was misidentified and was actually Tammy Akers.
There was a point, in the 1990’s, where Tammy’s brother was able to gain access to the home where the Brambletts had lived at the time of their disappearance, with permission from the new owners. Tammy’s brother discovered that a portion of the basement, in the back, had been closed off from the rest of the basement with a stone wall. The area that had been closed off was now only accessible through a narrow opening in the floor of the master bedroom closet. Someone would need to be lowered through a hole to access this area. This area also contained the laundry chute, and Tammy’s family could come up with no logical reason to block this section off, unless the bodies of Angela and Tammy were possibly buried in the dirt floor or walls there.
Tammy’s sister recalls being in that basement before, right when the house was built, and the basement was open, with no inner walls.
The owners of the property at that time were not willing to have it dug up. But this was the 90’s, I wonder if there are different people there now, who would be open to it. It’s time to bring these girls home.
A lengthy narrative by Bramblett, in which he describes how he believes he was framed for the murders, can be found here. Tammy and Angela’s disappearances are mentioned as well.