Did convicted murderer Adam Emery jump to a watery grave?

Adam and Elena Emery

Adam and Elena Emery

The Newport Bridge stands a majestic 219 feet above the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.   But on the evening of November 10, 1993, the bridge was the scene of a sobering discovery, the latest twist in one of the state’s most sensational murder cases.

Shortly before 7:00 PM, a bridge supervisor and a state trooper investigated an empty car that was blocking one of the westbound lanes. The engine was running and the headlights were on.   On the back seat were several articles of clothing, neatly folded.   Up front, there was cash, cut up credit cards, and a driver’s license.

Robert Moorehead was the bridge supervisor on duty that evening:

“When I first got up there, I thought it was an abandoned car.   He checked the car and… that’s when we knew…   it’s the Emery’s car.”

Most anyone in Rhode Island would have recognized the name Emery.   That very day, Adam Emery, the car’s owner, had been convicted of murder.   Though he was free on bail, Emery faced 20 years to life in the state penitentiary.   Now it appeared that Adam and his wife, Elena,   had found a way out of their impeding separation–by jumping to their deaths off the Newport Bridge.

The apparent double suicide of Adam and Elena was shocking news.   But soon authorities began to suspect that the Emerys were in fact, alive.   They believed the abandoned car was just the final touch in a well-planned escape to freedom.

It all began three years earlier, on August 30, 1990.   Adam Emery, his wife Elena, and another couple stopped for dinner at a local seafood stand.   It was just before 9:00 PM when a car whizzed by and sideswiped Adam’s car.   The car then sped away and disappeared around a corner.

Reporter Elizabeth Rau covered the Emery trial for the Providence Journal :

“Adam Emery headed out, and he saw a car way off in the distance, and his wife yelled out, ‘That’s the car, let’s chase them.’”

The car they were chasing was driven by 20-year-old Jason Bass.   His cousin, Joshua Post, was in the car with him:

“He got out of his car, yelling and screaming that, ‘We’ll kick your butt!   I’m gonna kill you!’   Major fighting words. Unbelievably, this guy was so mad and I’ve never seen anybody madder than this.”


Adam and Elena after the trial

Adam and Elena after the trial

It was at that moment that Adam pulled out a knife and jumped on the hood of Jason’s car.   While clinging to the car, Adam began to slash at Jason with the knife.   Jason put the car in reverse and attempted to flee, but it was too late.   He was stabbed once through the heart and died instantly.   Neighbors rushed out to help.   They were soon joined by Kevin Hopkins, an off-duty detective for the Rhode Island State Police who lived just down the street:

“When I arrived, the whole air about the scene was very spooky.   It had a haze, and it was a warm summer night and it just had a spooky eerie feeling about what I was going into.   And I pulled up, thinking that it was just a motor vehicle accident.”

The tragedy of Jason’s death was compounded by the facts that soon   emerged.   According to Detective Hopkins, Jason never so much as touched Adam Emery’s car:

“The Ford LTD that was being driven by Jason Bass was not the vehicle that hit Adam Emery’s car. They took paint chips off of Adam’s car and they tested those paint chips with the… paint of Jason Bass’s car, and proved conclusively that it was a different vehicle that struck Adam Emery’s car that evening.”

Those who knew Adam were stunned by the turn of events.   He had never been in trouble with the law.   Now, Adam Emery stood accused of second-degree murder. Reporter Elizabeth Rau was in attendance at Adam Emery’s trial:

“Adam Emery’s testimony was very rigid.   He never expressed any remorse for killing someone.   He said that he stabbed Jason Bass in self-defense.”

The trial ended on November 10 th , Adam Emery’s 31 st birthday.   Adam Emery was found guilty of second degree murder.   The judge allowed him to remain free on bail pending formal sentencing a month later.   But by nightfall, Adam and Elena were dead.   Or so it seemed.   After the police found the car, they began to reconstruct the events leading up to the apparent double suicide.

At 3:00 PM, Adam left the courthouse with Elena.   A half hour later, the Emerys showed up at a local sporting goods store.   Joel Smith, the store’s manager, was working that day:

“Elena was far from nervous.   She’d smile, she was talkative, it didn’t seem like there was anything on her mind or she had anything planned.”

An extensive search was conducted

An extensive search was conducted

The Emery’s bought sweatsuits, athletic socks, and 80 pounds of strap-on exercise weights.   But curiously, the salesman reported that Adam was disturbed by the total bill. To police, saving money seemed an unlikely concern for someone about to take his own life.

An hour later, at 4:45 PM, Adam and Elena pulled up at the Newport Bridge.   The previous hour, they had been observed, calmly dining at a fast food restaurant, which also seemed out of character for a couple bent on suicide.   At 4:50 PM, eye-witnesses recalled seeing the Emerys on the walkway of the bridge.   By 5:15, Adam and Elena had driven away.   Two hours later, their car was found back on the Newport bridge. Apparently the Emerys had returned to the bridge, but what happened then is still a mystery.

The search for the bodies of Adam and Elena Emery was one of the most extensive in the history of Rhode Island.   In the end, not a single scrap of evidence was recovered from the bay.   Then, Detective Hopkins remembered a taped conversation Adam and Elena were having in the courtroom following Adam’s guilty verdict:

“I obtained that tape, and I took it to a… person who was hearing impaired. One of her means of communication is to read people’s lips, and I asked her if she could interpret the conversation that was being held between Adam and Elena Emery.”

Hours of replaying the tape finally revealed Elena’s words.   According to the lip reader, Elena told Adam, “We’re gonna do what we originally said you promised me.” Clearly, the Emerys had a plan … but was it a desperate suicide pact or a bold scheme to fool the authorities and run away?

Months after the Emerys disappeared, a fisherman working in the bay found two human leg bones in his net.   Clinging to one was a fragment of a sock that was identical to those purchased by Adam and Elena.   Authorities compared the DNA sample from the bone with DNA samples of both Elena’s mother and sister.   It was a match.

Then a few weeks later, Detective Hopkins responded to an urgent call from the harbor. Narragansett Bay had given up another grim piece of evidence.   A skull recovered from the east passage of the bay was positively identified as that of Elena Emery.   Elena had at last been found.   But to date, there’s been no trace of Adam.   Perhaps, his bones are deep in Narragansett Bay.   Or perhaps, the day will come when Adam Emery turns up alive.

Officially, the case is still open.   Reliable sources say there’s no reason to believe Adam Emery ever committed suicide.