Case not closed Two bombs in 10 hours, two families still wondering why 11 years later

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  • Javier Adame

  • 1

    Bill Walker

  • 2

    File photoThe inside of Bill Walker's home following his death at the hands of an unknown bomber in 2008. The family was told to put down cat litter to absorb the blood, they said.

  • Javier Adame

  • 1

    Bill Walker

  • 2

    File photoThe inside of Bill Walker's home following his death at the hands of an unknown bomber in 2008. The family was told to put down cat litter to absorb the blood, they said.

MOSES LAKE — It was a day like any other on Aug. 1, 2008 when Bill Walker’s extended family came to Moses Lake for a baby shower planned for the next day.

Bill, a 69-year-old retired electrician, had been upset when he first learned his granddaughter Heather was pregnant, but was quickly swayed when he learned the child would be a boy — a soon-to-be apprentice fisherman and mechanic, Heather said. After the family made plans to celebrate with pizza at Chico’s, everybody went about their evenings.

The morning of the baby shower, Bill stayed behind to tinker in his workshop, while his wife of 40 years and much of his family went antiquing in Cashmere. Around 9 a.m., Bill reportedly found a boat battery charger — though where it was found is still unclear — and brought it into his workshop, where he plugged it in.

Shortly before the family was to reconvene for pizza, Heather realized she had left her phone in the car all day and went to retrieve it. Fifty missed calls littered the screen when she turned it on. Voice messages from family urgently told her to call them back.

Bill was dead.

At first, when she called her father back, she didn’t believe what he was saying. Her grandfather couldn’t be dead, she recalled thinking; she had seen him just the night before. When Heather arrived at her grandfather’s residence, it was swarming with detectives and investigators. A hole had been blown out of the wall of Bill’s backyard workshop, and shrapnel littered the ground. By evening, the family was told that Bill had died in a freak accident, that he had been electrocuted, and that the family should lay out cat litter to soak up the blood, Heather said.

But as the Walker family would soon learn, Bill was not killed by electrocution — he was murdered with a sophisticated explosive. Less than 10 hours later, across town, a second bomb went off.

The second victim was Javier Martinez Adame. He was 53, the fourth of nine siblings, and lived in a small house just north of Moses Lake city limits. He had held odd jobs most of his life after a car accident left him unable to work long shifts, according to the sheriff’s office.

According to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Adame’s girlfriend found a police scanner in a paper grocery bag in the driveway sometime on Aug. 2 and moved it to the porch. Just after midnight, Adame carried the scanner into the kitchen and plugged it in, triggering a hidden improvised explosive device. When the first family members arrived, they saw smoke rising from Adame’s home and thought it was on fire, one said in an interview.

Family members of Adame that agreed to talk with the Columbia Basin Herald asked to speak on the condition of anonymity, concerned about potential backlash from other family members who wanted to leave Javier’s murder behind. The last time a member of the Adame family agreed to an interview was in 2009 during a walk to raise awareness of their family member’s death. When one of those family members who were first on the scene asked deputies if Adame was still in the house, the deputy was abrupt, they said.

“Don’t worry about it, he’s dead,” the family member recalled the deputy saying.

An unusually sophisticated weapon

Pipe bombs are not uncommon in Grant County. A Moses Lake man was convicted earlier this year for attempting to construct a pipe bomb out of fertilizer. A Soap Lake man injured himself severely in 2017 after his homemade pipe bomb exploded nearby. Less than two weeks after Adame and Walker’s deaths in 2008, a pipe bomb destroyed a pick up truck in Soap Lake, occurring so soon after the murders that some believed, erroneously, that they were connected.

Every time a new pipe bomb was reported in the news, Heather wondered whether it was connected to the death of Bill, but none matched the level of sophistication in the appliance bombs. The weapons that killed Adame and Walker were not simple pipe bombs, which can be little more than gunpowder in a metal tube. The appliance bombs, which only ignited when they were plugged in, took such a level of expertise that investigators concluded that both had to have been made by the same person.

“The same person constructed both bombs,” said, then-Grant County Undersheriff John Turley of the 2008 murders. “They were sophisticated. They were meant to kill.”

That level of sophistication constitutes a lead, narrowing the pool of possible suspects. But while investigators may know something about the perpetrator’s capabilities, a more important mystery still stymies detectives: the bomber’s motive. Why did the killer choose Adame and Walker?

Two victims, zero connection

A connection has never been established between Adame and Walker. The families of both men have said that neither knew the other.

To that end, investigators have concluded that Walker was simply the victim of mistaken identity, and that only Adame was the intended target of the bomb that killed him, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. Law enforcement cited Adame’s criminal history, suggesting that he may have been targeted due to a feud over drugs or other criminal activity and that the bomber may have believed he would be especially interested in a police scanner.

But some members of Adame’s family argue this answer is unsatisfying. The only criminal convictions against Adame were for drug possession in the late 1990s, and he was never been charged for distribution or manufacture of drugs. Adame was not affiliated with gangs, family members said, and they see no more reasons for him to have been targeted.

“He opened his heart to everybody,” the family member said. “He loved everybody.”

To the people who knew Adame, he was better known for throwing barbecues, being an excellent harmonica player and gardening sunflowers at his home, family members said. If strange people came in and out of his home, it was because he took in friends who had nowhere to go, just like Walker.

Though law enforcement never established a link between Walker and Adame that could explain their deaths, family members described two men with a lot in common. Both took in people less fortunate than themselves. Both were known creators, Walker with his knack for repairing anything his family or friends put in front of him and Adame with his green thumb and music. Both were linchpins of their families.

Years without end

The Adame family, clad in shirts bearing Javier’s picture, walked across Moses Lake in 2009 to raise awareness for their fallen family member. They did the same the next two years. Now, family sometimes gather at his grave to tell stories, write messages they hope he will see on balloons when released into the sky and see his face whenever they come across sunflowers.

The two families have also shared similar fears, knowing that the killer may still be alive and at-large. Both Heather and Adame’s family members described experiencing pangs of anxiety when a package shows up on their doorstep, wondering if they would be next.

Years have gone by with no answers for either family. Bill’s wife, Dorothy Walker, died in 2018 not knowing who killed her husband or why they did it. Officers, detectives and investigators from more than a half dozen state, federal and local agencies have at some point taken a crack at the case.

Still, although the trail grows colder with each passing year, detectives have not closed the case of Javier Martinez Adame and Bill Walker. Their families have not yet lost the glimmer of hope that someone will come forward with information.

For those wishing to do so, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 509-754-2011, ext. 468.

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of an ongoing Columbia Basin Herald project regarding unsolved murders in the Columbia Basin. If you have a case you feel we should look into, please reach out to Managing Editor Richard Byrd at 509-765-4561 or via email at rbyrd@columbiabasinherald.com

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