Adams murder suspect waives extradition

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2010



LAPLACE — The man suspected of murdering a 15-year-old LaPlace girl last weekend was expected to be returned to St. John the Baptist Parish Friday afternoon.

Earnest Joseph III, 27, waived his rights to an extradition hearing Friday morning in Gulfport, Miss., where he had been held since his arrest Wednesday by U.S. marshals.

St. John Parish Sheriff Wayne Jones said Joseph would be charged with first-degree murder upon his return.

Authorities announced the arrest Wednesday afternoon, three days after Taylor Adams was found beaten to death inside her own home.

Jones said Joseph, who lived about a block away from Taylor Adams, beat her to death early Sunday morning after an intense struggle inside her Yorktowne Drive home.

Jones identified Joseph as the lone suspect in the murder during a 3 p.m. press conference Wednesday and said the man was on the run from authorities. Less than an hour later, at about 3:51 p.m., news broke that U.S. marshals had tracked him down and arrested him in Gulfport, Miss.

“We had good information that he had tried to contact a girlfriend to get out of town,” Jones said. “The suspect’s family had been cooperating with us and helped us bring the brief manhunt to an end quickly. They are good people, and we knew he was acting alone.”

Jones said Wednesday that Adams and Joseph knew each other, but he would not elaborate about how they met. Authorities would also not comment on the motive behind the killing but said the community was particularly helpful in the investigation.

“Many calls were received in this case,” Jones said. “Tips from the community helped us quickly identify the suspect.”

Investigators said evidence from the scene showed that Adams struggled and resisted the attack inside the home. Jones said the suspect was not invited inside the home, but he would not comment on any evidence of forced entry. He also said detectives had located the murder weapon and other forensic evidence, which was sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab in Baton Rouge.

Jones said Joseph has a prior arrest record dating back to 2002, when he allegedly shot his brother after an argument over clothing. Jones could not say if Joseph had been convicted of any crime in connection with the previous arrest.

According to the initial release from the Sheriff’s Office, Adams’ mother was returning home from work early Sunday morning when she found her daughter lifeless and covered in blood inside their home.

The mother called 911 and deputies arrived just after 6:30 a.m., said Capt. Dane Clement, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office.

Clement said evidence at the scene indicated the victim sustained “blunt force trauma to the head.” He said detectives suspect the incident took place sometime after 1 a.m. Sunday, but he would not say what evidence led investigators to that conclusion.

Clement said Adams’ mother Gaylyn told deputies she had not seen or spoken to her daughter since 9 p.m. Saturday.

Gaylyn Adams had been working a 12-hour shift as a security guard, and she expected her daughter to be home by herself.

Preliminary autopsy results released Monday confirmed that Adams died of multiple severe and forceful blows to the head with what could have been a large blunt object. Dr. Christy Montegut, coroner for St. John Parish, said the report showed Adams suffered a fractured skull and jaw. It also indicated that Adams experienced severe bleeding and bruises on the brain.

Jones said Adams was incredibly active on the online social networking site Facebook and said detectives used information on Adams’ profile as part of the investigation. He said Adams’ untimely death should serve as a lesson for parents with young children who use the site regularly.

“I stress the importance of monitoring what your kids are doing on the Internet,” Jones said. “If you don’t know them personally, don’t invite them into your life because you don’t know who they could be.”

As news of the arrest reached Adams’ neighborhood, neighbors of the girl and her mother showed signs of relief that the suspect was in custody. A small memorial placed at Adams’ front door Sunday had doubled in size by Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m certainly very glad they tracked them down so quickly,” said Albert Sheppard. “It is still such a shock that someone could do this on our street.”

Adams’ murder is only the fourth homicide in St. John Parish this year.