HIS GUILTY CONSCIENCE
Sometimes carrying around guilt is worse than the punishment for a crime – that’s what this killer found after he blew open a 32- year- old cold case
He had got away with murder for years, but the burden of guilt proved too much for Glenn Adams to stand
Russell Lyle Haines was found dead in March 1986. He’d been strangled. His body was found in his hotel room at the Oregon Way Hotel in Longview, Washington, an establishment that had a reputation as a sort of homeless shelter for transient men. He was found with a cloth around his neck. Russell was 53 years old.
As investigations go, it was cold from the beginning. The police had no suspects, no witnesses and nothing to go on. Police established that Russell had died of asphyxia by strangulation. They believed it was a robbery gone wrong, but they had nothing concrete to confirm their suspicions that the former Vietnam veteran had died in such a horrible way.
Washington has long had a significant homeless situation. Last year, over 22,000 people were reported to be living rough across the state, a rise of 3.5 per cent from the previous year. In the 1980s, the situation was even worse. The acclaimed 1984 documentary Streetwise, set in nearby Seattle, Washington’s largest city, painted a desperate portrait of a region plagued with social problems that resulted in an epidemic of rough sleepers. It is within this climate that such a distressing crime took place.
Russell Haines was particularly vulnerable. Due to injuries he had sustained during his military service, he was disabled and needed to walk on a prosthesis.
If this case started out cold, within a year it was completely frozen shut. It would stay this way for decades. No answers and no justice would be delivered for Russell Haines for over 30 years.
On Friday 6 July this year, the long- dormant case was blown open when a 58- year- old man named Glenn Eric Adams, then living in California, walked into the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice and admitted it was he who had killed Russell, many years prior. He wanted to “right to wrong that I have done” he told police, before being charged with first- degree murder and first- degree robbery the following day.
Adams had been living with his girlfriend in 1986. They argued about money a lot. On the day of the murder, they’d had one such argument. Waiting for Russell Haines to return from buying groceries, knowing the veteran often carried his money with him, Adams put Russell in a chokehold. He robbed him of $ 400 once his unconscious body had dropped to the floor. When Russell started to come to, Adams took a piece of cloth, put it around Russell’s neck, and didn’t stop pulling until his victim was dead.
Adams denied all knowledge that Russell Haines had a disability. The murder only occurred, he said, to cover up the robbery.
Since then it’s come to light that Adams had tried to confess to the murder at a previous date. According to the Daily News, Adams attempted to turn himself in for Russell Haines’s murder in Santa Barbara, California, in September 2017. However, after arriving at the station, he changed his mind and left before he could be interviewed.
Once they’d learned of this, Longview Police had reopened the Russell Haines case in 2017, visiting Adams in prison in Oregon, where he was at that time being held for his role in an unrelated crime. “He wasn’t ready to provide a full confession at that point,” Chris Blanchard told media in his role as spokesperson for the police department, adding that Adams did subsequently give police a DNA sample. “He said he wanted to speak with his brother further before he turned himself in.
“30 years in the making,” added Blanchard, “it got solved relatively easily.”
While sentencing is yet to begin – Adams is, unsurprisingly, pleading guilty – his mother, Emma Adams, has since spoken about her son’s crime, saying she never knew what her son had been hiding during all the years that had passed. “It hits the heart real hard,” she said, “but I’m glad that he did, that he turned himself in. That at least makes me feel that he still has a conscience.”
Intriguingly, Adams’s mother did say that two decades ago her son had hinted that he may have murdered someone. “The story that he was telling me was that he had apparently hit somebody and that he fell in the creek and drowned,” she continued, as part of an interview for television.
Asked by local broadcaster KOIN 6 what she would say to her son regarding his crime, she went on to say, “I would say that he has broken my heart for one. The fact that he didn’t ever tell me the real story.” She concluded by saying to her son, “You’re going to have to suck it up and do your time.”
The confession of crimes from years past isn’t a new occurrence. In 2015, a 91- year- old man – dying of cancer and at that time living in Canada – admitted to the murder of a
woman outside The Blue Lagoon nightclub in Soho, London, in 1946. It’s believed to be the longest period ever recorded in the United Kingdom between a crime and the conclusion of investigations.
Azrini Wahidin, professor in criminology and criminal justice at Nottingham Trent University, told The Guardian that the belief in criminology circles is that perpetrators of crime are normally driven to confess either because they want to make a new start, or because of religious factors, such as a belief in the afterlife. Yet a confession wouldn’t be enough for a prosecution in itself, since the passage of time affects the reliability of memory. Fittingly, Longview Police are now seeking evidence to collaborate Glenn Adams’s confession.
“When Russell started to come to, Adams took a piece of cloth, put it around Russell’s neck, and didn’t stop pulling until his victim was dead ”
Glenn Er ic Adams conf essed to murder after 32 y ears, a pparently unable to liv e with the guilt