With Arrest in 1985 Killing, a Woman Mourns a Brother She Barely Knew

For nearly 40 years, the case was unsolved, and Jerry’s sister and mother, Enid Nicola, remained haunted by his absence, and furious over a lack of leads in the investigation. But on Tuesday, the Preston County Sheriff’s Office said that after a thorough review of the case that began early this month, it had arrested David Monroe Adams in connection with the killing.

Mr. Adams, 56, of Westover, W. Va., was charged with second-degree murder after the sheriff’s office said that he “eventually confessed” in interviews with investigators that when he was 18 years old, an argument over a stolen bicycle drove him to take Jerry into a shed and kill him.

Mr. Adams could not be reached for comment on Thursday, and it was not clear if he had a lawyer.

After years of being told that the chances of finding Jerry’s killer were low, Ms. Cole said that she felt a mixture of emotions when her mother, Ms. Nicola, informed her of the arrest. Feeling angry, numb and overwhelmed, Ms. Cole sat in her car outside her home in Lexington, Ky., to process the news.

“I was screaming through the tears,” she said.

Ms. Nicola, 74, said in an interview that a deputy with the Preston County Sheriff’s Office came to her apartment and asked if she knew Jeremiah.

“Yes, that’s my son,” she recalled saying.

The officer told her about the arrest and gave her the number of the person in charge of the case, Capt. Travis Tichnell. Ms. Nicola and Ms. Cole called him that night, and he relayed some details about his findings, which were included in a news release from the sheriff’s office about the arrest. But many questions remained, Ms. Cole said: What was behind the argument over the stolen bicycle? Who stole it? And who was Mr. Adams, a man unknown to Ms. Nicola?

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