Who Killed James Adamski? How A 1982 Halloween Cold Case Haunts Upstate New York

Someone in upstate New York holds the key to a 1982 Halloween murder mystery about which theories continue to run rampant. Now, more than 30 years later, the victim’s brother is sharing more details about the incident, hoping that someone who knows anything that might help close the case will come forward.

On October 30, 1982, 18-year-old James Adamski went to an all-you-can-drink Halloween party at a bar in the village of Depew (the drinking age in New York state was 18 at the time). He was last seen alive after leaving the bar to walk home at 3:30 A.M. The Adamskis lived approximately two miles from the bar.

After James never made it home, an intensive search led nowhere until rabbit hunters finally turned up James’s dead, severely beaten body in the woods just before Christmas. He was still wearing his flashy “American Gigolo” Halloween costume.

Local police detective Lieutenant James N. Robinson said, “[He] was beaten to death with some kind of blunt instrument. It could have been a two-by-four, a baseball bat. Maybe a car jack from somebody’s trunk. We don’t know. He had numerous wounds from blows to his forehead.”

Andy Adamski, James’s brother, was just eight years old at the time. His last memory of his brother is seeing him in his Halloween costume, giving him a kiss and telling him, “Have a good time trick-or-treating, kid.”

Now 41, Andy spoke to the Buffalo News about the case, saying: “We don’t know if someone picked him up as a hitchhiker, if someone who knew him invited them into their car, or if someone somehow forced him into a car. It was a gruesome crime, and after all these years, we would really like to find out who did it.”

State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Joseph Gill also told the Buffalo News, “From everything we can determine, he had no known enemies. That’s part of the mystery of this case. This was a good kid, not a troublemaker or trouble starter in any way.”

Although Gill said James got along with everyone, he admits that night James may have gotten into an argument with others at the party and the argument may have been sparked by alcohol.

Police confirm in recent weeks they’ve sent the victim’s clothing to a laboratory for DNA analysis.

Andy says although both of their parents died years ago, Andy said, “My mother was never the same person for the rest of her life. She over-protected me after that. She always told me she was worried that they would kill me, too.”

Investigator Joseph Gill added, “I wish the parents were still alive, just so we could tell them that we’re still working on this.”

Many people attended the party that night. If you remember this case or you hold the key to solving it, or know someone who does, please contact: (716) 683-2800 and ask for extension 137.

Read more:
Buffalo News
Lancaster Police Department

Main photo: James Adamski [Lancaster Police Department]


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