‘There’s No Explanation For It’: Man Found Murdered In Tennessee Surrounded By Gold Coins & Cash

“Every aspect of this case is mysterious,” a law enforcement official who worked the 1996 murder case says.

This undated photo provided by the Knox County Sheriff's Office shows Blair Adams. Adams, of Canada, turned up dead in Knox County on July 11, 1996 laying next to gold bars, gold coins, and cash.

Blair Adams, 31, had been acting paranoid in the weeks following his death. His body was found murdered in Tennessee surrounded by gold coins and cash.

Photo by: Associated Press

Associated Press

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A Canadian construction foreman who suddenly quit his job and told friends he feared somebody was out to kill him wound up dead thousands of miles from his home, and the 1996 murder remains unsolved to this day.

On July 5, 1996, Blair Adams, of British Columbia, emptied his bank account, removed valuables from a safe deposit box and appeared anxious, reportedly telling a friend he needed to get to the United States.

First, however, he visited his mother and she noticed he was experiencing extreme mood swings.

“Something was obviously very much the matter. He hadn’t been sleeping well,” Sandra Edwards said of her son, according to Unsolved Mysteries. “Something was wrong. I asked him numerous times what was wrong. And he said, ‘I don’t think I should tell you about it.’ And to this day I don’t know what ‘it’ is.”

Adams left his mother’s home on July 8. Three days later, workers at a construction site in East Knox County, Tennessee, discovered his partially nude body.

An autopsy determined Adams, 31, was beaten and he died from septic shock after his stomach ruptured.

Robbery initially didn’t appear to be the motive for the murder since investigators found jewelry, gold bars and coins, and thousands of dollars in Canadian, German, and American bills around the battered man’s body, the Knoxville Sentinel reported.

Authorities said Adams — who reportedly didn’t know anybody in the area — likely put up a fight since he had what appeared to be defensive wounds to his hands, a cut to his forehead and tufts of hair missing from his head.

Only one piece of forensic evidence exists in the case — a long strand of hair not belonging to Adams that detectives recovered from his badly cut hand.

Investigators noted the victim’s pants were pulled down and he may have been sexually assaulted.

Gerald Sapp, a tow truck driver, recalled a strange encounter with the Canadian at a Knoxville gas station about a rental car key that wouldn’t work.

“I said, ‘If you drove this thing up here, you gotta have another key in your pockets.’ And he wouldn’t look,” Sapp told the Knoxville Sentinel, noting Adams was trying to start the vehicle using a key from a different make of car. “So I thought he was nuts. He was bound and determined that he had the key he needed for that car.”

Sapp dropped Adams off at a local Fairfield Inn. The Canadian was found dead across the road around 14 hours later, and the correct key to the rental vehicle was located near the body.

Ticca Hartsfield, who worked as a clerk at the hotel at the time, told Unsolved Mysteries in 1997 that Adams seemed “paranoid.”

“He just was very nervous, agitated, expecting someone to come in on him even though there wasn’t anybody there,” she said.

Sapp believed Adams “was not all there.”

“He didn’t appear to be messed up, he didn’t appear to be on drugs, but his mind wasn’t functioning correctly for some reason,” the tow truck driver speculated.

Adams reportedly was sober for two years before he died, and toxicology reports showed he had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and he had never been diagnosed with any mental illnesses.

In 2017, David Davenport with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit revealed one theory in the case is that Adams may have fallen victim to a sex worker or pimp who wanted to rob him but failed.

“Maybe he got rolled, or maybe it was a female prostitute,” Davenport said. “Maybe she had a pimp that was close by and they were going to roll this guy, and they got scared and didn’t.”

Jim Jones, the Chief of Detectives for the Knox County Sheriff’s Department at the time, summed up Adams’ homicide: “Every aspect of this case is mysterious,” he said. “There’s no explanation for it.”

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