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Blair Adams

The death of a young man found in a Tennessee parking lot remains a mystery.

Blair Adams

Blair Adams



On a gray July morning in 1996, strangers found a dead man beaten and half-naked in a parking lot in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Scattered around his body was German, Canadian, and U.S. currency totaling nearly $4,000.  The contents of the man’s wallet identified him as 31-year-old Blair Adams of Surrey, British Columbia.  Lieutenant Jim Jones was the Chief of Detectives for the Knox County Sheriff’s Department at the time Blair’s body was discovered:

“Every aspect of this case is mysterious… there’s no explanation for it.”

Why did Blair go to Tennessee?

No one knows why Blair Adams left his home in British Columbia or how he ended up in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Could he have been running away from a killer, or just running away from himself?

Before his mysterious death, Blair was a foreman with a construction company in Surrey, British Columbia.  Those who knew him say he liked his work and did it well.  However, in the summer of 1996, Blair’s cheery demeanor began to change.  According to his mother, Sandra Edwards, Blair began having wild mood swings:

“Something was obviously very much the matter.  He hadn’t been sleeping well.  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.”

Blair’s strange behavior came to a head on Friday, July 5, 1996.  He withdrew his savings and emptied his safe deposit box of more than $6,000 in cash and thousands more in jewelry, gold, and platinum.  It was the first stop on his dead-end run to Tennessee.

Hotel security camera

The next stop was the Canadian-American border.  On Sunday, Blair tried to enter the United States.  But as an unmarried young man carrying a large amount of cash, Blair fit the profile of a drug trafficker.  He was refused entry.  The next day Blair showed up at his job.  But he wasn’t there to work.  He asked his boss for his check and quit.

Blair’s erratic behavior continued.  That afternoon, he spent $1,600 on a round trip airline ticket to Frankfurt, Germany.  His flight would leave the following day, but just hours after buying the ticket, Blair was again desperate to get into the United States.  He showed up at a friend’s house in a panic, terrified that someone was trying to kill him.  But his friend was unable to take him over the border.

Then on Tuesday, instead of leaving for Germany, Blair turned in his tickets, rented a car, and headed back to the border.  This time, he managed to slip through.  He ended up in Seattle, where, according to Lieutenant Jones, he bought a one-way ticket to Washington D.C.:

“He paid about $770 for a one-way ticket when he could’ve purchased a round-trip ticket for approximately $350 or $400.  So it would’ve been half the price for… a round-trip ticket as he paid for a one-way ticket.  It just seemed very unusual.”

Blair arrived in D.C. early Wednesday morning and headed to Knoxville, more than 500 miles southwest.  Perry Moyers, a detective for the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, was one of the many perplexed investigators working on the case: 

“I mean why go to D.C. to turn around and come back to Knoxville?  He had no reason to be in east Tennessee.  He had no reason to be in Knoxville.  He knew no one in east Tennessee or the eastern United States.”

Mysterious clues were left at the crime scene

Blair was first seen at a gas station in Knoxville around 5:30 that afternoon. He complained to the gas station attendant that his car wouldn’t start.  The attendant told him he had the wrong keys.  However, the rental car company was already closed for the day.  Blair was stranded in Knoxville until the morning.  Luckily, he was able to hitch a ride to a nearby hotel.

Ticca Hartsfield, an employee at the hotel, remembered Blair vividly:

"The best way to describe him would be paranoid.  He just was very nervous, agitated, expecting someone to come in on him even though there wasn’t anybody there.  I don’t know who he was looking for, but he was waiting for somebody to walk in for him.”

The hotel’s security camera showed that in the space of an hour, Blair went in and out of the lobby five times before finally paying for the room.

After checking in, Blair pocketed the key to his room.  But instead of going to his room, he marched out the front door and never came back.  It was 7:37 PM, the last time Blair Adams was known to be alive.

Twelve hours later, Blair’s body was found in a parking lot about a half mile from his hotel.  He was naked from the waist down. 

Lieutenant Jones recalled the gruesome scene:

“His pants were removed in a way not like someone would take their own pants off, but in a way that someone else would remove your pants from you.  His socks were turned inside out.  His shoes were off and his shirt was ripped open.”

Scattered around Blair’s body was $4,000 in American, Canadian, and German currency.  A small pack held another $2,000 worth of gold and jewelry.

According to the autopsy report, Blair had sustained many cuts and abrasions. Police believed some of the wounds came from fending off an attack.  Blair was ultimately killed by a violent blow that ruptured his stomach.

Although Blair thought his life was in danger, authorities believed the threat was imaginary, and that Blair’s journey was an escape from his own delusions.  Either way, Blair Adams wound up dead, just as he had feared.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Dennis Farina and coming soon with Robert Stack. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.



rob's picture

did they ever solve this case

unsolved's picture

It is still unsolved as of September 2014.

Hugsie2's picture

From what I can tell no

Mr Clever's picture

Hmm... i get the feeling he found out by someone in the US that he had done something bad, maybe sexual. And that he was blackmailed to pay for silence, but he was killed as revenge for whatever he had done and the money was left and not picked up as an insult. The pants being pulled down is also a sign of revenge for some sexual crime made by the victim.

armchair detective  's picture

The killer wanted to humiliate the victim, He (or she) wasn't interested in the money or jewelry. The keys being lost than found was calculated by the killer. What ever the victim saw or did to the killer isn't known but the killer wanted to get him away from British Columbia. The perfect murder? Look into the victims life more deeply and fo9llow the trail to the killer.

Carter Maydian's picture

Of course they didn't that's why it's an unsolved case idiot

grahamclayton's picture

I have read a source which states that Adams locked the doors of his rental car and couldn't find them, which meant that he couldn't open door and start the engine. He then called the tow truck.

Dahlia's picture

I believe he suffered from an undiagnosed and untreated psychological illness, perhaps something along the lines of generalized anxiety/OCD/schizophrenia, and was literally trying to escape the tormenting symptoms. His death, however, is a murder to me. A bizarre case!

S.H's picture

its a murder

Samantha 's picture

True indeed and a disturbing one aswell.

Ed's picture

But the question remains, why kill him in an attack but leave $4,000.00 laying around him. Why take his pants off? Was someone looking for something? Did they find it?

j.s.h.'s picture

THe removal of the pants was likely a form of shaming him for revenge.
Leaving the money behind indicates it wasn't a money-motivated crime.
The killer likely had martial arts training of some sort. It's possible there
could have been more than one offender, but I personally think there was
only one acting alone for revenge motivated purposes. Police should
check out any male siblings of any girlfriends he may have had before
his murder.

rp's picture

why do you think he had only girlfriends? I heard he was def into men, so bi or gay.

Dorabella's picture

Where did you hear that? Is there a reference you can give for that information. Thanks.

M's picture

I believe the attacker must have known the subject in question well, whether this be through personal connection or careful studying cannot be said at this point. While it is true that he may have had undiagnosed mental health issues which became more prominent towards the end of his life, I do not see how the murder of the subject could be coincidence, as he was in a state of panic and would have been fuelled with adrenaline. This means that the murderer must have observed the individual carefully before striking. As for the possessions found around him, this tells me that the attacker was looking for something. If the murderer was indeed looking for something then they must have found it eventually. They must have at least had a basic knowledge of human anatomy. If the attacker had not found what he/she was looking for I think we would have been dealing with a much bigger mess as the suspect would have begun to panic themselves then - as awful as it is to think about - begun to search within Blair's body itself. There is also a possibility that the attacker used the blow to the stomach to attempt to remove something from the victim.
Whoever this criminal may be, one thing is for certain, They were willing to do whatever it took to get their hands on whatever they were after.
It seems most likely that the item in question would be something that the subject was storing in their safe deposit box.
Whoever committed this atrocity was keeping surveillance on the subject rather often yet maintaining a safe distance at all times so as not to arouse suspicion and only struck when they were absolutely certain there would be no witness.
The subject must have been a cautious individual, with a great deal of intellect. Perhaps the suspect may even have had paranoia or a similar mental illness him/herself. This would give them the patience and capability to carry out such an illusive plan. In co-operation with this theory, the suspect would be extremely skilled with deception and should be considered an extremely dangerous socio-path or perhaps psychopath, and should be approached with caution.

Sensible feedback would be appreciated. As if one person comes up with a theory such as this it could be considered a simple spew of thoughts and connections.

M's picture

Oh and I forgot to mention, the attacker switched the keys while the subject was in the gas station and must have been watching at a closer didtance, both there and at the rental car dealership.

Johnny's picture

Great comments and theories M. Stumbled upon site last week. Big Unsolved Mysteries fan. This Blair Adams case was a real mystery and wild. The blow to the Adams stomach interests me. Could have been someone with military training or a person with karate or martial arts training. It's not a usual manner of death. Adams changed his mind and did so many crazy travel arrangements...I don't see who could have followed him. It's most likely a criminal type noticed Blair's currency and jewelery when he left the Tennessee hotel. Blair was a good sized man so it must have taken 2 men. Maybe, they could trace some of the coins or jewelery. That 's a start I think. A tough case to solve.

M's picture

Thanks, I have to keep my brain going otherwise I go on a downward spiral. I can't really add anything to your comments right now as they all seem pretty much in line with the events. Good job on the jewelry section though, that would be a good call to make.
I mainly do this because it would be near impossible to get involved in a more current mystery. I long for a good mystery to knock on my door. Unfortunately, no opportunities have arisen for me to really put my skills to the test. Good job though. :)

Tessa's picture

M...Your comments are just theories and are as much a product of a fertile imagination as anyone else's . If you want to speculste, that's fine but don't put down someone else's ideas in such a rude way. I would say the downward spiral has already started for you.

Rob's picture

Could he have been hit by a baseball bat or a batton or dome kind of object

John Doe's picture

I think this guy obviously did something that caused "the big boys" go go after him! (as in a government agency, a government, organized crime, a professional hit). There was no way he was going to get away from one of those.
He traveled thousands of miles leaving clear trail behind! He no doubt bought the tickets-and everything else-under his own name. All his money and jewelry being left at the crime scene rule out a robbery.
It's a good thing he didn't tell his mother or friends details about his problems, for he could have made them a target!

Anonymous's picture

Cases like these are quite bizarre. If not eerie. All things point to a murder. In my theory he was attacked and killed other then where he was found. The killer or killers placed his body there. Scattered the coins;etc. Sounds to me like he was stripped of his clothes. Then in some weird fashion his socks where placed back on inside out. Maybe it was done to make it look bizarre or the killer/ killers where sending a message. Blair's behavior was odd. I don't think he had any mental issues cause family and friends said he was happy. However his mom noticed a change; mood swings. Could have it been drugs? Could he have seen something or have known something. He was diffently trying run from something or someone. The way he was running trying get into the USA; trying to go Germany then changing he plans. Doing loops and back tracking. He either was one paranoid person or someone was following him. Whatever was going on with him he met with a tradgic end. Hopeful someone knows something or saw something. Hopeful someone will come forward with new information. Rest in peace Blair Adams.

M's picture

I think you'll find a lot of the theories in this make no logical sense. I rather think you've been watching TV far too much. I think if you thoroughly analyse my previous theory you'll find it quite enlightening. The socks being inside out more probably suggest that they were searched. Although all this being said I do think you have a few good points such as the "loops and backtracking" as you put it are typical behaviour of somebody being followed. If he did have mental illness, I do very much doubt that it played much of a role in this, and if it did it would have simply been with decision making.
As for your theory on movement of the body: if they did move the body this would only increase their chances of being caught.
It is very possibly however that the victim had manic depression.
You clearly have some useful deductive skill, I just think you need to check through and rethink theories before settling for them...

anonymous's picture

M you are so full of (BOWEL MOVEMENTS)!

M's picture

How so? If you aren't going to elaborate on your opinions then I won't take them into consideration. As I see it now, you're being childish and not adding any new information. This leads me to believe that you feel threatened by something I said. If you'd given a reason for why you think I'm wrong I would have listened (intently).

Anonymous's picture

theories are just....
without having the actual facts and photos of the crime can only speculate..
there are valued points on both sides...
it's very clear the this young man met with a tradgic end.
unless your going to retrace all of his steps and go back from the beginning.
it will be a mystery
whatever happend..this guy was running from something...himself or someone else...
who knows...this is extremely bizarre....
I do think everyone's opinion is valued; its always good to have an open mind...

Anonymous's picture

It makes sense that the socks were inside out.
When you pull socks off they automatically go inside out.
Thus he was searching the body for something.

j.c's picture

they do not go inside out when taken off.

Robert's picture

Not everyone is too lazy to use both hands to remove their socks.

Anonymous's picture

My socks tend to want to go inside out when taking them off, yet because I am the one who does the laundry, I make sure they are right side out.

Mys Tery Girl's picture

My theory: he was acting crazy and agitated due to whatever mental illness he was suffering from. He ran into the wrong person, started a fight and was killed. Who knows what words/actions were exchanged before the final blow, but you can bet his bizarre behavior played a role in his demise.

Curiosity 's picture

I agree with you 100%. I've always believed he dabbled in drug trafficking. He may have traveled back and forth to Germany and the US in the past for this purpose. Alot of traffickers hide drugs in various body cavities and even in thier stomach which would explain why his pants where off and the blow to the stomach. They were looking for something on his body. This theory is something his family would not know about and if anyone did they wouldn't come forward if they were involved in the same type of activity. Maybe he didn't return something that was very valuable. Valuable enough that whoever was after him would be relentless in finding him. This would explain why it appeared that nothing else was taken. Those people usually have unmentionable resources (for example at car rental places) which would make it easier to track him. He could of been mentally ill, but this case is far more complex then someone having delusions.

M's picture

The only issue I have with this is the drug section. Unless it was an extremely rare and new drug I can't see somebody going through so much trouble. Otherwise, extremely good work.

Anonymous's picture

It wouldn't just be about the value. Although a few pounds of uncut heroin for example has an enormous street value. It would also be because people like that aren't gonna let you cross them that way without serious consequences.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah I think he was a mule or trafficker. Was supposed to take something to Germany changes his mind and went on a panicked run. But was caught.

patty's picture

I am familiar with mental illness....i do believe he was deliousional...i know a guy that traveled everywhere no one knew where he was...did a lot of really bizarre stuff its schizophrenia...quite frankly it's sad..and i also believe during that missing time...he created his own injuries...there were delusions about money people and places and it was too shocked they cannot come up with what the object was that hit him in the stomach...well when a mind gets suicidal it comes up with alot of crazy stuff...pray for all the sick and suffering RIP...Patty

M's picture

Exactly how familiar are you with mental health issues? The way I see it, it would take an extraordinary amount of contortion to rupture your own stomach without an instrument to inflict the injury with & if he used an instrument where was it?

MI-d's picture

I have worked with people with mental illness, and they normally believe they are defending themselfs, To have real injuries, internal injuries not just scratches and bruses say's more to me. and the money laing around speeks to a sadistic killer, one who wants the victom to be afraid and in pain before they loose control and launch into a blitz attack. The money my have been an attempt for the victom to buy his freedom and the killer or killers not taking it speeks to the idea they are not in need or even temptation to take a tracable trophy also say's they don't have reliable privacy.

J.C's picture

I have a feeling he was a phsychic and possibly suffered through schizophrenia. I believe this because he changed immediately and started acting weird, maybe like a voice was talking to him. I feel he also knew to go to Knoxville because he knew something had to be done there. Someone or something was telling him to go there. I just feel he couldn't stop it from happening. I believe something (not a human) did this to him. Some people may think it was the man he got a ride from but I don't believe so. I think something overcame him. He was not in control of his body.

christina's picture

What doesnt make sense to me is how could the killer chase him all over the place...? He was from British Columbia and then went to Germany and then the border and not let thru then back to work and then back to border..? That would take alot of chasing..? Also, was anything recorded in his safe deposit box that would be priceless enough for someone to chase him all over? I mean they would have to keep getting gas themselves to catch up with him

jose's picture

Did he have his room key was his room search ,what about the busness were they cleared mabe he did see or find somthing. Mebe his computer he met sombody .did he own any portable device n now gone.

Karwalk's picture

He was my friend, regardless of what happened he will be missed forever. Fly high bud! Here's to the Indy and Tanning! Xxoo

a.p's picture

if he knew he was in danger, why didn't he tell anyone ???

mofesola's picture

First off I don't believe the killing and his paranoia was just a coincidence... It is almost impossible for him to think he would be killed, run for his life and then get killed where he runs to
His mother said he changed... The police should consider the fact that he probably got in some deep trouble.. Got involved with the wrong people and shady business.. Maybe he actually did get threatened maybe got a note.. If going in this light then we have to think along with the fact that the people that killed him have the finance and desperacy to follow him all the way to USA just to kill him
Also the mode of killing was gruesome ... He was beaten I guess violently.. That is personal... If the killer just randomly saw him at USA and he was a victim of circumstance, there was almost no need to get so intimate with the killing mode
Also the stripping of the body was a defined degradation .. And also a shocker to those who find the body... The money also has a significance (I am still working on that though)
He was also an older guy ... Not to small body frame its either he was subdued by two people of one particularly large person... I would go for two people actually
Just to say... He was a man that obviously had a good life a good job..... He just won't lose it and bail out... Something was wrong from the onset
I am working on this case a lot personally... If you want to contact me to share ideas you can email me on

Hankwank's picture

Typical behavior for some who is paranoid schizophrenic..a person in psychosis will belive he is followed.He will even attack strangers that he belives are after this case he probably picked a fight with some stranger that he (in his psychosis) belived to be a hired hitman. This person who ever he might be may have just defended himself. A kick from a person can be enough to raptur his stomach, a blow like this will make you bleed internaly and slowly die if not treatet. As the other person runs away he will have had more than enough time to get back in the car and in pain remove his pants and slowly die of internal bleeding.. for the socks. a man in psychosis and haste could just have taken them on that way

Missy's picture

I get that most people love drama and a good mystery, however your theory actually makes the most sense.

Paxil's picture

I think Blair was off his meds. Before I got treated for panic attacks and bipolar disorder, I had terrifying thoughts of the government following me. Paranoia and fear ruled my life. I thought people were going through my trash and trying to frame my father for various crimes.I thought the government was listening to my phone conversations and watching me. After I saw a psychiatrist I was fine. I don't like taking three medications, but I am no longer paranoid and delusional.

Anonymous 's picture

This clearly was murder even if he was crazy as everyone says it does not make sense why his pants were off and why the money was scattered everywhere whoever did it wanted to silence him for whatever it was he knew or saw I hope they are eventually caught in time and his family can have peace R.i.p Blair Adams

William Ozment's picture

Has it ever occurred to anyone, that just maybe someone was after him and finally caught up to him. My thoughts are, why did a thirty something male, have that much jewellery, seems kind of strange to me.

Tinyspyder's picture

The jewelry could be family items, passed down or willed to him. Great Grandma and Grandpa's wedding rings, Aunt Ethel's diamond broach, etc.


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