Former Dishon Investigator Uncertain, Unsure, But At Peace

By James Zambroski
Feb. 5, 2003
It's been less than 3-1/2 years since Jim Adams spent the night in the woods near Jessica Dishon's body, but it might as well be a millennium when it comes to the memory of that horrible September in Bullitt County.

Until called to testify last week at the trial of David "Bucky" Brooks, accused of kidnapping and strangling Dishon on Sept. 10, 1999, it had been two years since Adams had anything to do with the case and 28 months since he last pinned on the badge of a Bullitt County Sheriff's detective.

Adams has no trouble looking anyone in the eye about his investigation of Dishon's disappearance and strangulation, but in September 2000, one year after making his grisly discovery, he left the sheriff's office -- and police work entirely -- starting a new life working in construction maintenance in Jeffersonville, Ind.

No one had been arrested for Dishon's killing by the time Adams resigned. But even though he'd left every scrap of paper that had anything to do with the case in a three-ring binder at the sheriff's office, it was still necessary to call him back as the case against Brooks unfolded.

Four months after his resignation, Adams returned as a civilian to testify as the lead investigator in front of the January 2001 grand jury looking into Dishon's slaying. But during an interview with Snitch last week, he said his heart really wasn't in it and that he presented evidence only because a subpoena required him to do so.

He said he was surprised when the grand jury returned the indictment that has jailed Brooks for two years and made him eligible for the death penalty if convicted of the murder.

"I didn't expect an indictment, to be honest with you," Adams said last week. "If I had been sitting on the grand jury, I wouldn't have voted to indict him."

Asked why his then-partner, detective Charles Mann, didn't go in his place to the grand jury, Adams reiterated that the case wasn't ready to be heard for an indictment from anyone, much less trial.

"I really didn't mind doing it, but in a case like this, I would have thought there'd been more before we went to the grand jury," he said.

"I considered it an open case when I left," he said. "It wasn't a wrapped-up deal. The evidence that was presented at the time pointed toward the farm and everything, but there was nothing ever that I can remember in this case that said that David Brooks is the only person that did this and has to be caught."

Like a bad penny that keeps showing up, the Brooks trial, which ended in mistrial and no verdict last week, has forced the former detective to defend himself over criticisms that he botched the investigation.

The Dishon case, apparently, played a part in his decision to leave the sheriff's office.

"Under the circumstances, I couldn't do things the way I felt like they should be done," he said. "The most reasonable thing seemed to get out of law enforcement altogether."

One decision he objected to during the early days of the Dishon investigation was not calling the Kentucky State Police for help.

"I wasn't happy with the way things were going," he said. "Not involving other agencies and things. It was kind of an unspoken, unwritten thing that we would handle our own stuff."

Adams's testimony during the trial was replete with "I don't know," "I have no idea" and "I can't remember." Notes he took that might have helped his memory have disappeared, he said.

"A lot of stuff I had with that case file was missing," he said. "I said (to the prosecutor) 'What happened to my notes?'''
A formerly well-organized set of investigative documents had been piled into a cardboard box, Adams said.

"And when I left, everything was in a binder, everything was organized, there were copies of search warrants, search warrant returns, medical examiner's reports, my preliminary reports, some handwritten notes," he said.

"Even the sighting sheets that came in from 'America's Most Wanted,' that kind of stuff, it was all in a binder, it was all in a file. And when Mike (Commonwealth Attorney Mike Mann) got it, he said it was in a cardboard box and separated out in sheets. In fact, he made a comment that there was stuff from other cases mixed in with it."

Since leaving law enforcement in September 2000, Adams has found his peace. "I've never been happier," he said.

His transformation from buttoned-down detective to oil-field worker has been complete on the outside. His hair hangs to his shoulders when not tied into a ponytail. A full, black beard covers his face from the eyes down, and he's chucked neatly pressed trousers and penny loafers for blue jeans and work boots.

And there is that eye-to-eye contact.

"I don't have anything to hide. I'm not going to lie about anything," he said.

Incredibly, the man whose testimony helped put Brooks behind bars and on trial for his life isn't sure authorities have the right man.

"I wasn't sure in my mind, personally, that Bucky was the one that needed to be charged; I don't know if anyone will ever be convicted of this murder."

On Feb. 12, Bullitt Circuit Judge Thomas Waller will hold a hearing into the mistrial and hear motions from Brooks's defense lawyers seeking dismissal of the case outright or, at least, a reduction in bond to get their client out of jail.

Defense sources say a tape of the Adams interview, broadcast over two nights on the 11 p.m. WAVE3-SNITCH Report, should be of great interest to the judge.