NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Is Adam Emery dead or alive?
That remains one of Rhode Island’s most infamous questions decades after the convicted killer disappeared.
“It’s an intriguing case,” retired R.I. State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell said.
Emery’s car was found on the Newport Pell Bridge. Inside was a receipt for diving weights.
He was never seen again.
In August 1990, Emery’s car was side-swiped in Rocky Point Park. He became enraged and followed the other car.
Somehow, Emery mistook the car for one being driven by 20-year-old Jason Bass.
In the vehicle with Bass was his cousin Joshua Post.
“Adam came out of nowhere,” Post said in a 2017 interview with Eyewitness News. “Pushed him, and that was when he stabbed him.”
Bass was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It wasn’t real,” Post said. “I was a young kid and I didn’t want to believe him, obviously.”
In 2016, Bass’s niece told Eyewitness News a story about her uncle’s kindness.
“He used to work at Mr. Donuts and a gentleman walked in—a homeless man,” Cynthia Bass recalled. “He wasn’t wearing any shoes and after his shift, [my uncle] took off his shoes and gave it to him.”
At trial, Emery claimed he stabbed Bass out of self-defense. He was convicted of second-degree murder.
In a controversial decision, the judge let Emery out on bail so he could get his affairs in order before he was sentenced.
Emery was seen that night eating food with his wife and the couple was later spotted buying weights at a sporting goods store.
That night, the car was found on the Newport Pell Bridge. Presumably, the pair jumped to their deaths. Authorities scoured the bay looking for any trace of them.
Retired Eyewitness News Chief Photographer Les Breault was invited onto the police boats that day to get video of Hannibal, the search dog trying to locate the fugitive.
“A lot of people on shore watching the search,” Breault recalled. “Even a lot of fisherman and other boaters out there trying to get in on the act.”
A diver that day in 1993 told Breault that Hannibal was able to narrow the area down to the size of a football field. Another diver said the visibility was poor.
It wouldn’t be until 1994 that Emery’s wife Elena washed ashore.
Adam’s body has never been recovered.
Dead Or Alive?
Did Adam really jump that day with his wife?
O’Donnell said for the first time he thinks Emery jumped.
“Nothing would surprise me based on history, but the facts lend to credence he jumped off the bridge,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it happened. I think that’s why he’s still on the FBI list and conspiracy theories think he might be alive.”
O’Donnell added that typically when suicides occur at the bridge, the bodies are eventually found.
Breault thinks Adam is still out there.
The FBI said Emery is a wanted man. There is still a warrant out for his arrest, which said he may go to Florida or Italy.
“I have this gut feeling that he’s out there somewhere,” Bass’s brother Raymond said in a 2017 interview.
R.I. State Police declined to speak about the case because of the sensitivity of the investigation, though they are still seeking tips. They added the case to a deck of cold case playing cards. Each card highlights an unsolved homicide or missing person case in Rhode Island.
Emery is the 9 of clubs.
O’Donnell said Bass’s family just needs answers.
“Closure,” he said. “If that means the bodies recovered, or if he turns up alive, then the family can close that door a little bit.”
“They often feel they were forgotten,” Cynthia Bass said in 2016. “They feel they have to remind everyone they were the victims. Jason was a victim.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-RI-SOLVE.