Police grill former neighbor again over ’68 disappearance

Detectives working out of the King County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Squad are taking another look at the disappearance of an Issaquah boy on Tiger Mountain over 40 years ago.

Detectives working out of the King County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad are taking another look at the disappearance of an Issaquah boy on Tiger Mountain over 40 years ago.

Detectives are re-examining a former neighbor as a “person-of-interest” in the 1968 disappearance of eight-year-old resident David William Adams. The police interviews are intended to determine if the man — a former neighbor of the Adams family near Fifteenmile Creek — could be investigated as a suspect or ruled out of the case altogether.

Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. John Urquhart said the investigation was reopened thanks to the formation of the Sheriff’s Cold Case Squad this April, which is reviewing more than 175 unsolved cases still on the books. Urquhart said he believed foul play was involved in the Adams case and that the neighbor was the last person to see him alive.

“He’s been a person of interest for several years,” Urquhart said.

“It is certainly worth taking another look at the case.”

The person-of-interest, now in his 60s, is a Lewis County resident.

According to court documents obtained by the Reporter, the man was “very evasive” during the search. Det. Scott Tompkins, a member of the cold case team, said the man took a polygraph during his most recent interview and failed. Tompkins filed for a search warrant pertaining to the man’s cell phone records last month as part of the investigation.

“We’re following the evidence until it runs out or tells us where to go,” he said.

Enough cold cases have developed promising leads to prompt investigators to create a deck of playing cards with 52 profiles of the cases displayed on front of the cards. David Adams is currently featured on the front of the ace of spades. They hope passing the playing cards out in state prisons and jails might generate more leads to solve the long-dormant cases.

Adams, an Issaquah Elementary student at the time, was returning alone from a friend’s house to his home on the 14000 block of 240 Ave. S.E. when he disappeared on May 3, 1968.

More than 1,000 searchers, with the aid of dogs, combed Tiger Mountain in the days following his disappearance, but he was never found.

Old newspaper reports fueled speculation that the boy had fallen down an old coal mine shaft or an animal like a cougar or a bear attacked the boy and carried him off.

But Urquhart dismissed the old theories as uninformed hyperbole.

“He wasn’t attacked by a wild animal,” he said. “He certainly didn’t fall into quicksand.”

KING5 News also reported the former neighbor, a Vietnam vet, said he helped search for the boy decades ago, the police interrogation made him “nervous and stressed” and that only reason police have focused on him is because after 40 years he’s the only one still alive.

Adams remains listed as “Missing” by the state Missing Person’s Registry to this day.

Thanks to a grant from the US Department of Justice last April, the Sheriff’s Office announced the Cold Case Squad had been formed to investigate unsolved murder and missing person cases dating as far back as 1942.

Two homicide detectives, Tompkins and Det. Jake Pavlovich, work with veteran Det. Tom Jensen, who arrested the “Green River Killer” serial killer Gary Ridgeway in 2001.

All cases are initially reviewed, then reviewed again and placed in order of priority by a team of people, including cold case detectives, a prosecutor, and depending on the case, other colleagues and experts in a particular field. Other factors to be considered include the threat to the community, likelihood of successful DNA or other forensic testing, repeat offender, cost/benefit analysis of other investigative options, and the general strength of the case.

In the past, unsolved homicides were investigated by Major Crimes detectives along with their normal case load which includes robberies, kidnappings, and serious assaults. That unit, however, was reduced by three positions as part of the 2009 budget cuts to the Sheriff’s Office.

The grant, worth about $500,000, runs for 18 months and covers the costs of two detectives, an analyst, and miscellaneous expenses associated with those investigations. After the initial 18 months the grant can be renewed, subject to an administrative performance review.