One of our 50 juveniles serving life committed suicide. The story follows.
The story has been kept very quiet. Even though Gabriel had an active case and was getting ready for a sentencing review via the recent Supreme Court ruling, his attorneys were never informed. DOC will not talk to the press on this or other matters and has denied interviews with prisoners on a whole host of issues. This is a very troubling development.
Finally, Gabriel Adams was very troubled and tried to commit suicide twice before. He was in a treatment facility with supposedly suicide proof rooms. How did this ever happen?
We have another young lifer that spent 17 years in solitary and is still locked down 22 hours a day. These now-grown men all entered the system as teens. This is no way to treat an animal—let alone a human being, regardless of age and regardless of his crimes.
Mary Ellen Johnson
Executive Director, The Pendulum Foundation
Gabriel Adams, serving life, found dead in prison for mentally ill
by Alan Prendergast, Westword Magazine
March 24, 2014
Gabriel Adams, a 38-year-old inmate serving life without parole for his role in a headline-grabbing double-murder committed when he was a teenager, was found dead in his cell on March 9. Although autopsy results have not yet been released and the Colorado Department of Corrections is offering little information about the death, Adams — who had a history of suicide attempts — reportedly hanged himself in the San Carlos Correctional Facility in Pueblo, which houses many of the prison system’s most severely mentally ill inmates.
Adams was seventeen in 1992, when he joined fellow Woodland Park teen Jacob Ind in a bizarre plot to kill Ind’s mother and stepfather. As detailed in our 1998 feature “The Killer and Mrs. Johnson,” Ind claimed to have been physically and sexually abused by his parents for years and to have hired Adams, a purported martial arts expert, to carry out their murders.
The two co-defendants told somewhat different stories about who carried out what actions the night Kermode and Pamela Jordan were shot to death in their upscale home, but both were tried as adults and received life sentences.
Pendulum Foundation director Mary Ellen Johnson’s book about the case, The Murder of Jacob, describes Adams as a short, slight, delusional adolescent who “believed himself to be a reincarnated Vietnam War vet” and preferred to be called “Major.” As she wrote, “Major even claimed he knew how to levitate, ninja-style.”
Following a 2012 US Supreme Court decision declaring mandatory life sentences unconstitutional for offenders who committed their crimes when they were juveniles, Colorado’s 51 juvie lifers have been awaiting a chance to argue for reduced time at individual sentencing hearings. But those hearings didn’t come soon enough for Adams, who has struggled with mental illness throughout his prison sentence.
Barb Stephenson, a board member of the Colorado chapter of the prison family-rights group CURE and the national chapter of an organization that seeks reforms in incarceration of the mentally ill, says that Adams was transferred to San Carlos in 2011 after a suicide attempt at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility. She corresponded with him and tried to serve as an advocate, she adds, but Adams imposed too many unreasonable conditions for her to even visit him.
“Gabriel did not talk about his diagnosis,” Stephenson says. “He did not talk about his treatment. He was a very paranoid person. He refused visitors, and I could tell he was not in touch with reality.”
The state prison system averages four to seven suicides a year. A DOC spokesman referred inquiries about the death to the Pueblo County coroner, stating only that “Mr. Adams was no longer in CDOC custody as of March 9, 2014.”
Alan Prendergast is a journalist for Westword magazine, and a recent recipient of the Society of Professional Jourrnalists’ Sigma Chi Delta award for feature writing.
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