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Man Confesses to 37-Year-Old Cold Case Murder of Boy Over Bicycle

Floods washed out crucial evidence.

A West Virginia man has allegedly confessed to murdering a boy over a bicycle—a case that had been cold for 37 years. In 1985, Jerimiah "Jerry" Matthew Watkins was found dead in a shallow grave near railroad tracks in the small town of Terra Alta, West Virginia, one week after a torrential flood. The water had washed away crucial evidence, so the case went unsolved for nearly four decades. Until police reopened the case just this month. They questioned a suspect who confessed, Law & Crime reported. Read on to find out more about the case.

Second-Degree Murder Charge

WV Department of Corrections

David Monroe Adams, 56, has been charged with one count of murder in the second degree, according to the Preston County Sheriff's Office. After the case was reopened by Captain T.N. Tichnell, the deputy "began a thorough review" and "noted a number of inconsistent statements" allegedly made by the defendant during the initial investigation in the '80s, Law & Crime reported.

Watkins had been found to be murdered by a stab wound to the back. But the recent floods slowed the investigation, and in the meantime, crucial evidence disappeared. "Despite law enforcement's efforts at that time—which also included helping countless families cope with the recent devastating flood—the case remained unsolved," the sheriff's department said.

Argument Over Stolen Bicycle

Preston County Sheriff's Office

In a few days this month, the sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies "conducted multiple interviews" with the defendant "and he eventually confessed that an argument that started over a stolen bicycle resulted in Jerry being taken into a shed and murdered," the PCSO said in a news release.

Adams was 18 years old at the time. According to court documents reported on by WDTV, the Watkins and Adams were at Adams' home when they got into the argument. Adams then hit Watkins in the face, took him to a shed, and stabbed him. He then dragged the boy's body into a shallow hole near the railroad tracks.

Adams is being held on a $1 million bond. Additionally, charges may be filed, authorities said. The West Virginia State Police and the Monongalia County Sheriff's Office helped with the latest law enforcement efforts, the PCSO said. "In the 37 years since his murder, countless agencies and organizations have contributed to this investigation," the sheriff's office said in the news release. "May you finally rest in peace, Jerry."

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Jerry's Sister "Overwhelmed" By Unlikely Arrest


Jerry's sister, Jamie Cole, was just an infant when he was murdered. She told the New York Times this week that after years of being told that the chances of finding Jerry's killer were low, she felt a mixture of emotions when she was told about the arrest—angry, numb and overwhelmed. "I was screaming through the tears," she said. "He just was a genuine person. A boy that just never got to grow to be a man—who would have been a wonderful person."

Many questions remain about the case, Cole said: What led to the argument over the stolen bicycle? Who stole it? And who was Adams, a man Jerry's mother didn't know? Police haven't offered further details; the sheriff said he doesn't want to jeopardize the case. 

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