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Missoula cold case team solves 30-year-old murder


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    MISSOULA COUNTY, Montana (Missoulian) — The Missoula County Sheriff’s Department Cold Case Unit solved a 30-year-old murder case involving a houseless man.

On Sept. 13, 1992, a partially buried body was found in an area known as “Orange Avenue Ranch” or “Peace Tree Camp.” Detectives determined the victim, William T. Adams, spent the night at the Poverello Center on the evening of Aug. 25, 1992, according to a press release from the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

Adams, also known as the “Cadillac Man,” died from a knife wound to the chest and massive head trauma a few days later, sometime on Sept. 2 or Sept. 3. No suspect was identified during the initial investigations, the press release stated.

Adams’ body was found in a shallow grave near a hillside with a broken knife in his chest. His clothing was pulled over his head, seeming like he was dragged to the location. Several items of clothing tainted with blood were recovered at the scene. Through DNA testing, investigators determined the identity of the person suspected of killing Adams, Leonard D. “8 Ball” Owen.

Both Adams and Owen were unhoused and known to travel by train. Owen had an extensive criminal history, including violent crimes, the press release stated.

Owen is deceased.

“Our Cold Case Unit has proven invaluable,” Missoula Sheriff T.J. McDermott stated. “Their dedication and perseverance to seek the truth and close these cases is appreciated by many, including law enforcement, past and present, and family members that experience closure.”

The cold case team was established in 2019 by McDermott.

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