Sheriff’s office revives investigation of 1968 disappearance

April 6, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

David Adams

David Adams

New cold case squad sets sights on missing Tiger Mountain child

The detective who arrested the Green River killer will work to solve nearly 200 cold cases, including the disappearance of an 8-year-old Issaquah boy who vanished four decades ago.

Retired King County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tom Jensen — who arrested serial killer Gary Ridgway in November 2001 — is part of a new, three-member Cold Case Squad formed by the sheriff’s office and backed by a federal grant. Jensen serves as a civilian analyst.

Investigators will examine 193 homicides and missing-persons cases dating back to 1942. The squad will review the unsolved disappearance of 8-year-old David Adams, who went missing May 3, 1968, while hiking on Tiger Mountain with his brothers and sisters. More than 1,000 searchers combed the mountainside in the days following his disappearance, but David was never found.Residents speculated whether David had fallen down an old coalmine shaft, or if an animal had attacked the boy and dragged him off. Others wondered if David ran away.

But Sgt. John Urquhart, sheriff’s office spokesman, said David was likely abducted: “It’s very unlikely a cougar dragged him, or that he ran away, which is unlikely at age 8.”

Detective Scott Tompkins, a member of the cold case team, said investigators will determine whether DNA testing and other techniques unavailable in 1968 could aid the investigation. Jensen, Tompkins and Detective Jake Pavlovich will also look at crimes committed by people connected to the case in the years since the disappearance.

Despite the advances in techniques and technology, Urquhart said old-fashioned “gumshoe detective work” would be crucial to the cold-case investigations. Since the unit began work in January, Tompkins contacted David’s father to request photos of the boy to use on bulletins and an agency Web site devoted to the cases.

Challenges abound for investigators as they seek to unravel cold cases. Evidence gathered in the era before DNA testing may have been contaminated, mishandled or improperly stored. Memories of cases fade and witnesses die.

But the passage of time can also push people with information about a case to talk.

“As many cold cases get solved by people talking as they do by DNA,” Urquhart said.

Investigators said people with information are more likely to come forward as they get older and begin to worry about their mortality.

“Maybe they’re on their deathbed and they want to make it right,” Urquhart said.

Tompkins said people once connected to potential suspects, such as ex-wives and former cellmates, often yield valuable information because the potential suspects confided in them. As time passes, “loyalties change and people are more willing to disclose information,” he added.

Because investigators face so many cold cases, each will be reviewed based on the status of possible suspects, witnesses and evidence, as well as possible threats to the community.

“There’s no way we can actively investigate 193 cases,” Urquhart said.

The sheriff’s office established the Cold Case Squad with a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice, part of the federal Department of Justice. The grant, which will fund the squad for 18 months, covers personnel costs and expenses associated with the investigations.

The grant is eligible for renewal. Evaluators will decide if the squad was productive and is likely to solve additional cases.

Before the cold case unit was established, each detective from the sheriff’s office Major Crimes Unit was assigned to a handful of cold cases. Urquhart said their workload of active cases often prevented them digging deep into the old files. He said solving the cold cases is paramount.

“If we can’t solve it, we have failed,” Urquhart said. “We’ve failed the victim and we’ve failed society.”

On the Web

Learn more about the King County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad at www.kingcounty.gov/safety/sheriff. Follow the link for “Cold Case Investigations.”

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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Comments

8 Responses to “Sheriff’s office revives investigation of 1968 disappearance”

  1. Jan Aarts on April 9th, 2009 9:35 pm

    With the greatest sensitivity to the family of David Adams, I was dismayed by the comments of Sgt. Urquhart in the recent Issaquah Press article in which he, with apparent certainty, dismisses the the possibility of a cougar attack being responsible for the disappearance of this young boy. I encourage the Sgt. and other outdoor enthusiasts to read the book “Stalked by a Mountain Lion” by Jo Deurbrouck for an enlightening discussion of this topic.

  2. Jill on April 11th, 2009 3:53 pm

    I am the sister of David Adams. While well intentioned, unfortunately “The Press” included several inaccuracies in this article. One such error reported was that my brother “went missing May 3, 1968, while hiking on Tiger Mountain with his brothers and sisters.” David was walking from a friends house to home. He was walking alone. While rural, the distance between houses was ralatively short.
    The actual facts of the case would, as the Sgt reported, make animal attack very unlikely.
    In 1968 child abductions were rare. I believe explainations such as cougar attack, running away, or falling in a well were attempts to explain at that time what society quickly accepts now. That some people do bad things to children.

  3. Rob Killian on June 17th, 2009 11:39 am

    David was my desk partner at Issaquah Elementary school…and I will never forget this kid and the trauma this family suffered. My father and all of my friend’s families were involved in the search. I attended church with David and had played at his home and been in the woods near his home several times. He could not have gotten lost easily. Something mysterious had to have happened that evening he went missing.

  4. Patrick J. Tiekamp Sr. on July 4th, 2009 3:34 pm

    It seems that the King County Sheriff in it’s over exuberance has exceeded the necessary.
    Forty One years ago, my brother Richard, a Navy Corpsman assigned to join the Marines in Vietnam happened to be on leave and offered his assistance in the search. While my heart goes out to faminly and friends, it seems that Richard may have fit some profile and may have been considered a suspect at some later date. Any Marine, Sailor or Seabee knows full well that corpsmen will step in to help under any circumstance without regard for self.
    On the day of David’s disappearance, Richard had retuened home after having dinner at a local restaurant and learned of the investigation and immediately volunteered as one might expect of any corpsman.
    Shortly after the new found interest, Richard was asked if he could share what he could recall. This voluntary act on his part became a nightmare of questioning asking “where’s the body buried”, “can you take us to the body”? Upon Richard’s releases he returned home to his wife who called me and told me of his strange behavior, “fear of being alone, having to be able to see her at all times, feeling a need to be protected”. I am a 3X Vietnam Vet with extensive PTSD problems and realized his need for professional help and advised him over and over until he was finally convinced to report to American Lake V.A. for help. After his visit there of almost two weeks, he came to live with me as he was still uneasy. All in all it took over a month to undo what the Sheriffs office put him through both verbally and mentally. They wonder why more people don’t offer to be helpful. I realize that at this juncture Richard is like the last man standing. Some one, a person of interest?- has since past away. Both of my parents, with whom Richard had dinner on th that sad and unforgetful day are now deceased, so much for alibis.
    The Sheriffs Office has shown interest in perhaps aking more questions. I’m very sorry but Richard will not be available for any further abuse.

  5. Pat Tiekamp on December 11th, 2009 10:12 pm

    Strange, the lasttime I was here there were more blogs. Noone has offered anything new since 6/09. Where is the blog that I wrote?
    Ok, Enough worrying over the past.
    Question:
    Did anyone truly witness the boy leaving his friend’s house?
    Question:
    If so, who might that be? Are they still alive?
    I like the headlines.
    Squad has set their sights on someone. The suspect is being targeted.
    What frightful things to write. Perhaps someone is being railroaded. Are they already on the train and just don’t know it.
    Perhaps he never left his friend’s house. Much more possible than the large animal theory.

  6. September on December 13th, 2009 11:36 pm

    This story has been updated and there are all kinds of sites now talking about the new leads but in every article written, parts of this original one are added to it. From what I understand, there was nothing of the boy found. It was like he vanished altogether. One of the recent articles states the father believes the boy was taken out of the area. If this is the case, did he get into the car willingly with someone he knew? Did he ever leave his friend’s house? The person they have of interest did not drive at the time, did not have a driver’s license, a car or access to one. He has no criminal history as some of the stories claim he might. All because this original story has parts of it tossed in with newer versions creating misleading statements. I have read a lot of blogs and it doesn’t seem to be much truth to anything. There is no body, nothing for DNA comparrison, no signs of an accident, no weapon, no motive. But there is a lot of “may have’s” , “we think’s”, “he doesn’t” speculation to get up a lot of anger at someone they are not sure is involved, praying on the public sympathy and outcry at what might have happend and the fact no one knows. Now they open this case just as the people he was with have all died. He is the last man standing, being railroaded by cops that want to pat their backs as heros looking into a case they feel the original detectives failed to investigate. All tips and leads they had at the time were looked into. This man was interrogated, polygraphed and cleared before he left for Vietnam. And he didn’t join afterwards, he had been in the military for 2 years and was on leave when he used his time to help search for the little boy before going to war. He was honorably discharged from the military and received a purple heart. I am very curious what their search warrants revealed. Be nice if that was part of the topic in these blogs.

  7. September on December 13th, 2009 11:45 pm

    Bless Mrs. Adams for not wanting to jump the gun, accuse someone or point fingers until she has real proof or a confession. It takes a lot of strength to get through all these years as she has done. When I think of this case, I think of the Jacee Dugard case. Look how they grilled her step father. And he was the only one that pointed out that if she wasn’t so docile and cooperative, if she had been a fighter, she might very well have wound up dead. Instead the inner strength kept her alive. I think the authorities should put in as much effort in finding this boy alive as they do thinking he isn’t. Maybe a computerized or digital age enhanced photo should be distributed, see if anyone recognizes him. We have no idea what 41 years could have done to a boy and his memories, especially if they were not good years. I think it’s worth a try.

  8. Oldbaldwiseone on February 28th, 2010 11:51 pm

    It seems that our over zealous sherriffs investigators are adding up unknowns and suspicions that are unfounded to create sympathy of the public in order to sway people to believe that they are infallible. Sorry to tell you that they are so intent on their futures that justice is totally irrelevant. I have information that everyone should be aware of.
    Their prime suspect spoke by phone in regards to a visit from his son with his exwife. A woman who had no knowledge of the David Adams case. A marriage that took place many years after the disapearance. Coincidentally, it seems that the sheriff had contacted her, she was unaware of what they were seeking. Consequently the sheriff felt that the two of them, suspect and exwife, was suspicious and cause to subpoena the suspects phone records. The suspect and his ex are on friendly speaking terms and communicate regularly.
    Sorry folks but the sheriff is trying to make a mountain out of a rut in the road.There is nothing out there what-so-ever. I’d say that the lack of physical evidence spells abduction. Investigators, attention, you’ve had over forty years to come up with the slightest clue and you have none. Give it a rest and quit making empty promises to the Adams. If you make an arrest it will be unfounded except in your clouded minds.

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