Detectives re-examine ’68 cold case with few clues

December 29, 2009

Innocence Lost, a three-part series about the 1968 disappearance of David Adams.

Part 3: Clues

Scott Tompkins (left) and Jake Pavlovich, King County Sheriff’s Office detectives, working out of their office at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, have a three-inch binder compiling the available information on the David Adams disappearance. — By Greg Farrar

Scott Tompkins (left) and Jake Pavlovich, King County Sheriff’s Office detectives, working out of their office at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, have a three-inch binder compiling the available information on the David Adams disappearance. By Greg Farrar

Investigators scoured Tiger Mountain for almost a week. Volunteers searched for days more. Still, the mountain yielded no secrets in the search for David Adams, the 8-year-old boy last seen near 15 Mile Creek in May 1968.

The disappearance baffled investigators. Left to work with few leads and scant evidence, the case faded into memory for more than four decades — until now.

In the spring, King County Sheriff’s Office investigators received a $500,000 grant to re-examine cold cases. The agency established a cold case unit; detectives treated the Tiger Mountain disappearance as a priority.

When David vanished May 3, 1968, authorities handled the case as a search-and-rescue effort. Perhaps the boy fell down a defunct coalmine shaft or suffered a wild animal attack. After exhaustive searches for David turned up no traces, people suspected something more sinister.

David played with a friend after school, and then left for the short trek home at about 5 p.m. Ann Adams, now 76, asked her son to return home for dinner just before he vanished.

“I have the firm, firm feeling that this was not an accident, that somebody was involved,” she said. “Now, whether it was an accident on their part, I don’t know if they deliberately set out to do harm to him. But somehow along in the association that they had, harm was done to him.”

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Searchers scoured fields, forests for missing boy

December 22, 2009

Ava and Bill Frisinger revisit forested fields near their old home on 231st Avenue Southeast at Southeast May Valley Road, where they joined in searches for 8-year-old David Adams in 1968. — By Greg Farrar

Ava and Bill Frisinger revisit forested fields near their old home on 231st Avenue Southeast at Southeast May Valley Road, where they joined in searches for 8-year-old David Adams in 1968. By Greg Farrar

Innocence Lost, a three-part series about the 1968 disappearance of David Adams.

Part 2: Search

Only memories and frayed newspaper clippings remain from the fruitless search for David Adams.

Ask any longtime Issaquah resident about the mystery, and talk turns to the May 1968 search for the missing 8-year-old boy. Many old-timers scoured fields and forests in the frenzied days after David vanished.

The search drew people in the hundreds — perhaps even 1,000 searchers — to Issaquah, just a flyspeck on maps back then. Volunteers swarmed Tiger Mountain in the days after David disappeared, but the first searchers were bound together by faith, community and the desire to find the lost boy.

The first teams included members of the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where the Adamses worshipped. The call for help rippled through the congregation hours after David failed to return home. Searchers combed the mountain through the night. By the next morning, the King County Sheriff’s Office arrived, and the case caught the attention of Seattle news organizations.

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Only questions remain after ’68 disappearance

December 15, 2009

When 8-year-old David Adams disappeared in May 1968, the still-unsolved case generated unprecedented news coverage and attracted hundreds of searchers to Tiger Mountain. Photo illustration by Greg Farrar

When 8-year-old David Adams disappeared in May 1968, the still-unsolved case generated unprecedented news coverage and attracted hundreds of searchers to Tiger Mountain. Photo illustration by Greg Farrar

Innocence Lost, a three-part series about the 1968 disappearance of David Adams.

Part 1: Missing

The walk home was short, but David Adams never completed the trip.

David left a friend’s house on a late spring day in 1968, and set off down a shortcut worn by neighborhood children. Somewhere along the path — whether by accident, misstep or chance encounter — the 8-year-old boy disappeared from Tiger Mountain.

Searchers volunteered by the hundreds and combed through dense forest for days. Tiny Issaquah, with 4,000 or so people then, was the nexus in the unprecedented search effort.

With the techniques and technology available to investigators and searchers in May 1968, the search for David unfolded as a rescue mission.

Searchers offered theories.

Maybe David fell down a coalmine shaft. Maybe a wild animal attacked the boy. Maybe — a more remote maybe in the 1960s — someone abducted David.

Searchers found nothing.

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Sheriff’s office revives investigation of 1968 disappearance

April 6, 2009

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. Read more