The man who allegedly confessed to the 1985 murder of 13-year-old Jeremiah “Jerry” Matthew Watkins was indicted for first-degree murder earlier this week by a Preston County grand jury.
According to an article published by The Dominion Post on Nov. 13, 1985, the teen had been reported missing a few days prior to search parties finding his body in a shallow hole by the railroad tracks in Terra Alta on Nov. 12, 1985.
An autopsy of Watkins’ body at the time showed he suffered a brain bleed from an apparent blow to the head, with the ultimate cause of death being a stab wound to the back, the criminal complaint said.
Despite nearly four decades of continued efforts from several officers and departments to solve the case, it wasn’t until Captain T.N. Tichnell began reviewing the cold case in February of this year and noticed some inconsistencies with statements from a man named David Monroe Adams, 56, of Westover — who had been previously interviewed by investigators — that circumstances began to turn.
Adams, who was 18 at the time of the murder, was allegedly interviewed by Tichnell several times before eventually confessing to killing the teen and dumping his body in that shallow grave by the train tracks.
Adams allegedly told the officer that an argument had started over a stolen bicycle at his then-residence in Terra Alta, before he struck the boy in the face and took him to a shed where he then stabbed him.
Adams further admitted “he then dragged Jeremiah’s body and placed it in the shallow hole,” the complaint said.
He was arrested following his confession and initially charged with second-degree murder. That charge has since been upgraded to first-degree murder following the investigation.
Adams is being held on a $1,000,000 bond at Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
Also among those indicted were five individuals allegedly involved in the October 2021 kidnapping and murder of Jimmy Lee Barkley, 41, of Oakland, Md.
Court records allege the investigation into Barkley’s murder shows he was forcibly taken from his home in Oakland, stripped of his clothing, tied up and forced into a van, which took him across state lines to a cabin near Eglon.
Once at the cabin, Barkley was allegedly shot by Damon Lamont Hudgens, 23, of Detroit. Hudgens was indicted last year for first-degree murder, kidnapping, concealment of a deceased human body and conspiracy.
Now after further investigation, Adam Matthew Shaffer, 37, of Eglon, and Alexandra Gabrielle Abbott, 32, of Mt. Lake Park, Md., were both charged with kidnapping — accessory before the fact and conspiracy.
Andrew William Wassick, 26, of Maidsville is facing charges for kidnapping, concealing a deceased human body and conspiracy for his role in the crime.
Dashawn Nichelle Scott, 21, and Roy Tyson Cheshire, 22, both of Oakland, Md. were each charged with kidnapping and conspiracy. Scott and Cheshire were each already sentenced to 25 years in prison for charges relating to the kidnapping in Maryland.
Remaining indictment charges from the latest Preston County grand jury include drug offenses, sexual abuse and assault charges, larceny, failure to register as a sex offender and others.