37 Years Later, Man Confesses to Killing Boy Over Stolen Bike

David Adams charged with 2nd-degree murder in 1985 killing of 13-year-old Jeremiah Watkins
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2023 8:33 AM CST
37 Years Later, Man Confesses to Killing Boy Over Stolen Bike
David Monroe Adams, 56.   (West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

For nearly all of her life, Jamie Cole wondered what had caused someone to kill her big brother. She was only a year old in 1985 when 13-year-old Jeremiah "Jerry" Watkins' body was found beaten and stabbed in a shallow grave near railroad tracks in Terra Alta, West Virginia. Though she remembers little of him, his absence was deeply felt throughout her life. Now 38, Cole says she can tell "how broken" her mother was by his death, per the New York Times. Years ago, authorities told her it was unlikely Jerry's killer would ever be found. But "clearly someone didn't give up on him." On Tuesday, the Preston County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of a man who would've been 18 at the time of the crime.

Capt. Travis Tichnell tells the Times that he "had an opportunity" to review the cold case early this month and noticed "some inconsistencies" in statements David Monroe Adams provided to law enforcement in 1985. During subsequent interviews, Adams of Westover confessed to killing the boy following an argument over a stolen bike, Tichnell says. He allegedly bashed Jerry in the face, took him into a shed and stabbed him, then dragged his body to the shallow grave, per WDTV. Upon hearing the news, "I was screaming through the tears," Cole tells the Times. Jerry was "a boy that just never got to grow to be a man, who would have been a wonderful person."

She tells WDTV that she'd recently "grown to accept" that her brother's murder would never be solved. Now, she and her 74-year-old mother Enid Nicola are "numb." But "I'm standing tall," says Cole. "I try to stand as tall as I can every day, even if it's for nobody else but him," she adds of the brother who so badly wanted to see her take her first steps. Adams, 56, charged with second-degree murder, is held at North Central Regional Jail with bond set at $1 million. (Read more cold cases stories.)

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