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Man found slain 10 days after release from prison


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 31, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- Richard Bernard Adams once survived a gunshot to the head during an argument over crack cocaine.

On Tuesday -- 10 days after the 35-year-old was released from a state prison -- he was found dead behind a vacant building at 12th Avenue S and 12th Street S.

"No matter what he did, he didn't deserve to die like that," said his mother, Annie William Adams, 65, who last saw her son Monday night.

Adams, whose street name was "Richie Rich," was shot in the chest and discovered face-down in a lot across from Harold's Market. He had been dead 12 to 24 hours. Neighbors said they heard gunshots Monday night.

Police do not have suspects or a motive but are considering whether drugs led to Adams' death, the fourth killing in St. Petersburg this year.

"Right now it's very broad," said homicide Sgt. Mike Puetz. "We've got a very big net out there."

Officers were sent to the scene after an anonymous person called police at 11:17 a.m. Tuesday from a pay phone at 1040 16th St. S. Detectives were able to identify Adams faster because of a tattoo of a bag of money on his left arm.

Word spread quickly Tuesday that someone was found dead in the neighborhood. Cars slowed as they passedthe crime scene. Girls, 4 and 8 years old, stood along the yellow police tape that kept the crowd back. They watched as forensics technicians took pictures.

Police Chief Goliath Davis III even showed up.

"Go back there and lift up his face and tell me who it is, Chief," a woman said to Davis.

Davis told her he couldn't because the scene was off limits. "I'm not in the mortician business, baby," he told her.

Classified as a career criminal by the state Department of Corrections, Adams has been arrested 23 times since 1981. He has also been held as a material witness in the Pinellas County Jail for at least two criminal cases.

When he was 25, he was shot in the back of the head in an alley in the 900 block of 12th Ave. S. He was treated and released from Bayfront Medical Center. Another man was charged with attempted murder.

Adams' latest brush with the law came in 1996 when he was convicted of attempted residential burglary and battery on a law enforcement officer.

He served 31/2 years at Avon Park Correctional Institute and was released May 20.

He came to St. Petersburg to stay with his mother, who was called at her job in the stormwater department after her son's body was found.

One of nine children, Adams came from a good family. His mother has worked for the city of St. Petersburg for 27 years. His father, Cage Adams, who died two years ago, worked for the city 36 years.

Mrs. Adams said her son was a "changed Richard" since he came home. She said he had an interview lined up Tuesday for a telemarketing job and read the Bible every day.

"Whatever happened, I can't bring my son back," she said.

"All I'm doing is asking the Lord to give me strength to understand the things I can't change."

-- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report.

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