Ever since its premiere in 1992, NBC’s ‘Dateline’ has been chronicling one baffling true-crime tale after another to really shine a light upon the disturbingly dark, twisted side of human nature. Thus, of course, its season 31 episode 6, aptly entitled ‘Righteous Obsession,’ profiling the 2018 brutal homicide of North Carolina native Milton Henry “Little Mink” Sawyer Jr., is no different. So now, if you wish to learn more about the same — with details on everything that transpired, its ensuing investigations, the perpetrators, as well as its aftermath — we’ve got you covered.
How Did Milton Sawyer Die?
At the age of 55, Milton Henry “Little Mink” Sawyer Jr. was seemingly living a happy, healthy, stable life in the 1800 block of Darian Drive, Elizabeth City, when everything was snatched away from him in the blink of an eye. The owner-operator of the thriving Treasure Hunter antique store on North Road Street was even wholly dedicated to his blended family and an active member of the tight-knit local community. That’s why news of his demise in one of the worst ways imaginable sometime after midnight on August 2, 2018, left everyone in this coastal town of Pasquotank County shocked to the core.
Milton’s wife, Angel Sawyer, was the first to raise the alarms by showing up bloodied at their neighbor’s doorstep, frantically claiming someone had broken into their home and opened assault. The local police immediately responded to the scene, only to find the couple’s bedroom ransacked as well as Milton lying face down in the bathroom with his hands taped behind his back. Unfortunately, he could not be revived. The official autopsy soon concluded Milton had been strangled to death with bare hands — the cause was “asphyxia” induced by “traumatic neck injuries.”
Who Killed Milton Sawyer?
The assertion of a robbery gone wrong initially seemed quite believable owing to not just the way Milton was found but also Angel’s intense head injury as well as the apparent signs of struggle. The fact the Sawyer family home was largely unlocked and a key was left out in the open for the backdoor (from where the assailant reportedly entered) also supported this entire narrative. However, the truth is it was actually Angel, Milton’s wife of around six years, and her devoted lover Isaac Dustin Melcher who orchestrated the plan to murder him so they could be together for good.
While Angel was being treated for her wounds at a local hospital, she told investigators she and her husband were watching TV when she decided to get a snack, just to come across the intruder. “He had a gun, he had a mask, and he was just screaming,” she detailed, per the taped interview. “He was cussing a lot. He said, ‘Get on the effing ground,’ and ‘Give me all your effing money.'” The then-45-year-old further implied they’d been explicitly targeted since the male knew they owned Treasure Hunter, but he ended up strangling Milton and pistol-whipping her in the process.
Angel did give an understandable reason for the key — just in case any of their seven blended children (two still living at home) came home late or needed a place to stay, but suspicion soon arose. After all, apart from the key being perfectly accessible to anybody, there were rumors that she was an extreme narcissist who was having an affair with her married physical therapist, Isaac. The latter was quickly approached. Isaac vehemently denied the liaison despite admitting to being separated from his wife.
However, Isaac couldn’t hand officials his phone to corroborate the same. Isaac claimed he’d mistakenly destroyed his cell upon spilling water on it and was actually at Walmart buying a replacement at the time of the murder, which seemed just too convenient to the authorities. Therefore, as soon as investigators realized the store surveillance footage contradicted the 38-year-old’s accounts, they obtained a search warrant for his property as well as all his belongings.
The authorities soon learned Isaac had suddenly left for Oregon to visit his mother, only for it to be in their favor because he ended up confessing to an old friend. His friend thankfully reported this to the police and even agreed to wear a wire to garner further information. Thus, it came to light that Angel had told her boyfriend that her husband was not just jealous but also controlling, meaning he’d never let her leave on her own. As per the documents, Angel further claimed Milton had to be dead for her to be free.
Therefore, Angel and Isaac began concocting a plan to kill him and landed the perfect opportunity for execution on August 2, 2018, as they were home alone, making them equally liable for the offense. Isaac purportedly did slap his girlfriend on that fateful night to make it seem like she was assaulted as well, yet since it wasn’t hard enough, she herself slammed her head on the side table to make it bleed. Hence, the duo was charged with conspiracy as well as first-degree murder on August 21, 2018.
Angel and Isaac were formally booked into county jail without bond — they’d both denied their affair by this point. Angel then stood trial for the same in 2021, where the star witness for the prosecution was actually her former boyfriend, leading to her quick conviction. On the other hand, owing to his eventual cooperation, Isaac was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser count of second-degree murder in November 2021, despite being the actual killer.
Read More: Where is Angel Sawyer Now?