Our card this week is Anthony Tony Adams, the Ace of Hearts from Utah.
Tony was a rising star in Salt Lake City who had nothing but a bright future ahead of him
Until one night in 1978 when someone entered his apartment and viciously attacked him,
leaving behind a still unsolved mystery and complicated questions of motive.
Was Tony’s murder a political assassination, a hate crime, or a random attack?
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
It was about 8.30 p.m. on Monday, November 6th, 1978, and a man who we’ll call Thomas
and his wife, who we’ll refer to as Alison, had just arrived at their friend Tony’s apartment
Tony’s place was kind of the hangout hub for lots of people in the area, so Thomas
and Alison had been there plenty of times, but this time was different.
They weren’t there to hang out, they were there to check on Tony.
No one had heard from him in a day or two, which was odd, but they hadn’t thought much
of it until he missed a super important political rally on Sunday.
You see, Tony was this brilliant 25-year-old guy who was well known for his involvement
in local Salt Lake City politics, and he was a campaign manager for Congressional hopeful
Thomas and Alison were also involved with William Hoyle’s campaign, so when Tony never
showed up to his rally on Sunday, his friends started to worry.
I mean, this was the weekend before the election, so they knew that Tony wouldn’t have missed
that rally for anything.
And their worry only grew as the day crept by and they still hadn’t heard from him.
So by the time Monday evening arrived with no word from Tony, Thomas and Alison had a
gut feeling that something was terribly wrong.
When they got to his apartment building, they noticed his van was in the parking lot.
It was unlocked, so Thomas glanced around inside.
He didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but the fact that his van was there meant
that Tony had to be home.
So Thomas and Alison went inside.
As they approached Tony’s apartment, they noticed something odd.
His door was cracked open a few inches.
That’s when Alison’s stomach dropped.
Something told her that whatever was on the other side of that door would be something
she could never unsee.
Thomas agreed to go inside the apartment by himself and look around while Alison waited
in the hallway.
When Thomas came barreling back out the door a few minutes later, he frantically told Alison
that they had to call the police now.
He’d found Tony and all he could tell her was that he had some kind of wound in his
Within minutes of their 911 call, a dozen police officers rushed to Tony’s apartment,
and what they found was truly gruesome.
In the bedroom, propped up against a radiator and slumped over a TV stand, was Tony.
He was naked, and his body was covered in blood.
Before police even processed the scene, word started to spread that Tony had been found
So news reporters started lining up outside the apartment building.
Here’s a 1978 interview local news channel KUTV did with a responding officer the day
Tony was discovered.
The man is obviously dead and he has been for quite some time.
It appears to me his throat was cut.
Not only had Tony’s throat been cut, he’d been stabbed several times.
And since he’d been dead for a while, police had already lost valuable time, so they got
right to work.
They immediately started searching the room for any clues they could find, but the scene
was a lot to take in.
The drawers of Tony’s dresser had been pulled out and rifled through, the bedsheets had
been torn off, blood was pooled on the bed and smeared across the wall.
Then on the floor, atop the wadded up bedsheets, police found the possible murder weapon.
A large, wooden-handled butcher knife covered with blood.
Based on his other cutlery, it appeared to be a knife taken right from Tony’s own kitchen.
Outside the bedroom, police found even more blood, I mean lots of it.
They found blood on the door jamb in the kitchen, on the front door, and all over the bathroom.
As officers looked around the bathroom, they started to wonder if that’s where Tony had
first been attacked.
The bathtub had a ring of blood around the inside of it, and there was a big gouge on
the wall above a bloody handprint.
Still not sure exactly what happened, officers definitely thought it looked as if there had
been a violent struggle in the bathroom.
They even wondered if Tony had been taking a bath when his killer first struck, since
he wasn’t wearing any clothes.
But then they noticed something else.
There was stuff floating in the bloody water in the tub, some pieces of clothing, and what
looked like the contents of Tony’s wallet.
Our reporting team went to Salt Lake City and interviewed Kara Porter, the co-founder
of the Utah Cold Case Coalition, and she said that the stuff from inside Tony’s wallet
was all accounted for in this bathtub, except for one thing.
He had just gotten paid, and he had deposited his check.
He had made a withdrawal of some cash.
They found some receipts of some stores that he had spent the money.
So they did some math and believed he maybe should have had $30 cash on him.
Now that assumes he didn’t go buy groceries.
We used cash a lot more often in the 70s than they do now.
So they thought maybe somebody had stolen $30 just because he didn’t have receipts for
the remaining $30.
In 1978, that amount of cash had the purchasing power of about $130 today.
Obviously, no amount is worth killing over.
But it was enough that at the time, police at least pondered robbery as a motive in the
But other than the money, nothing seemed to be missing from the apartment.
Sure, everything had been ransacked, drawers had been rifled through, but it seemed like
everything was accounted for besides that $30.
So police continued collecting evidence.
And as they did, detectives got major deja vu, because they had just been at that exact
apartment complex building less than a year before, investigating an entirely different
In November 1977, a 16-year-old girl was found dead in her bathtub at Tony’s apartment complex.
According to KUTV, Sharon Schulmeier had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
Now, Sharon’s murder hadn’t been solved yet.
But despite the fact that they both lived in the same complex, and she was found in
a bathtub and Tony was thought to have maybe been taking a bath, police were pretty adamant
from the get-go that there was no connection between the two killings.
Now maybe it was the fact that Tony had been stabbed and Sharon had been strangled, or
that the victims had nothing in common besides where they lived.
It’s not entirely clear.
But it seems like detectives didn’t want to go too far down that road, and they wanted
to look at other possibilities.
Once police finished processing the crime scene, they got to work right away trying
to figure out what Tony had been up to in the days leading up to his death.
They thumbed through his address book to find friends and acquaintances to call.
Finding his little black book at his apartment meant police had pretty much everyone Tony
knew, and they had their phone numbers right at their fingertips.
So they started dialing.
One person detectives reached was a co-worker of Tony’s.
They worked together at Utah Transit Authority, or UTA, both as bus drivers.
The co-worker said that the last time he saw Tony was the morning of November 3rd, which
was the Friday before his body was found.
Another co-worker said that Friday was the last time he saw Tony too.
He saw him sometime that evening, though from police reports it’s not clear where these
two co-workers saw Tony last, whether it was at work or somewhere else.
Police also talked to one of Tony’s friends who said that the last time they’d spoken
with him was November 1st, which was the Wednesday before he was killed.
And what this friend had to say really intrigued police.
They said Tony complained about a quote-unquote lady friend.
He said he’d recently gotten into a heated argument with her, whoever her was, but Tony
didn’t really elaborate beyond that.
It seemed like Tony was possibly turning down a relationship of some kind, but it wasn’t
This same friend said that they tried to call him back that weekend on both Saturday and
Sunday, even on Monday, but there was no answer.
And his friend never got to the bottom of who this lady was or what they were arguing
Police talked to another friend of Tony’s who’d only known him for a few months, and
the last time he saw Tony was either Friday or Saturday night.
He wasn’t sure, but he was certain about one thing.
The last time he saw Tony, he wasn’t alone.
Tony was hanging out with a man who looked to be in his mid-20s, about average height
with long hair, a mustache, and a beard.
It was a loose description, but detectives took it and ran with it.
They canvassed all the bars in the area that Tony was known to hang out at, but they didn’t
find anyone who could pass for a match.
So police continued making calls.
According to reports, another acquaintance police talked to said that they knew of a
very suspicious man living in Tony’s apartment building.
In fact, the guy and Tony even lived on the same floor.
Now it’s never clarified in the police report why this man was deemed very suspicious, but
police learned that this man supposedly knew which apartment Tony lived in and that he
was also a bus driver.
But when detectives talked to this suspicious man, he flat out denied knowing Tony or where
Police didn’t find any of his fingerprints at the scene, but they still wanted to give
him a polygraph just to be safe, and he passed.
So just like that, the man was cleared as a possible suspect.
As the days and hours crept by, more and more tips came trickling in.
But the one that intrigued police most came from a coworker of Tony’s who told police
that he knew a man who we’ll call Dave, and Dave knew a man who’d killed somebody.
So he’s basically saying that he knows somebody who knows somebody who might’ve done something.
It was a long shot, but police did end up tracking down this Dave guy just to hear all
of this straight from him.
And Dave said it was true.
There was a man that he knew who’d suddenly told him one day that he needed to find $1,200
so he could either pay for a lawyer or skip town because he’d just murdered someone.
Of course, detectives’ ears perked up when they heard this, but there was one small problem.
Dave didn’t know how to get in touch with the man who’d made this confession, and he
was only able to offer a vague description, 6'3", 200 pounds, dark hair.
But the police officer who talked with Dave didn’t buy it.
I’m going to read from a redacted police report that our journalists obtained.
Now wherever it’s redacted, you’re just going to hear a noise.
The officer wrote, quote,
“‘It is this officer’s opinion that Mr. ______ is covering up some sort of business
transaction with ______.
It is also this officer’s opinion that Mr. ______ knows who ______ is and is withholding
information,’ end quote.
The police had to move on.
Every day the murder went unsolved meant another day a vicious killer was roaming the streets.
Police continued making calls and chasing dead-end leads.
Nothing was panning out.
But then on November 9th, three days after Tony’s body was found, Detective Ron Millard
decided to pay a visit to Tony’s apartment.
Now the scene had already been cleared, but Detective Millard had just been assigned to
the case, and he just wanted to go over everything once more, quadruple check that the other
detectives hadn’t missed anything.
But here’s the thing.
They’d missed something big.
Here’s Kara Porter again.
She told us what Detective Millard found in Tony’s apartment all these days later as
he walked into the kitchen.
At that time, the reporting officer observed a bloody fingerprint on the drawer next to
the sink in the kitchen.
Upon checking the contents of this drawer, another blood spot was observed in the bottom
of the drawer under several kitchen utensils.
But what he saw at the bottom of the drawer wasn’t just a blood spot.
It was a bloody knife, a second knife that police had just completely missed.
After reviewing this case, this is what I keep getting hung up on.
If Detective Millard hadn’t gone back to Tony’s apartment on November 9th, would that
knife have just never been found?
I mean, the scene had already been cleared, so I have to think the answer is yes.
If he hadn’t gone to double check things, no one would have even considered that a second
knife ever existed.
After finding this second knife and the bloody fingerprint, Detective Millard called a sergeant
with the crime lab to the scene.
According to the police reports, the sergeant processed the inside of the drawer and its
contents for fingerprints, but the results were negative.
As for the bloody fingerprint Detective Millard found on the drawer itself, it’s not clear
what was done with that.
The report doesn’t specify, but reports do say that the bloody knife was taken into
Now, even though the police had found this second knife by a stroke of luck, they still
weren’t any closer to catching the killer, and rumors were running rampant around the
Plenty of people didn’t buy the robbery gone wrong theory because they thought Tony’s
murder was a carefully planned, targeted assassination, and this wasn’t some bogus claim at a left
Obviously, this theory did hold some water because Tony definitely stood out as a target
in Salt Lake City in the 1970s, particularly because of three things.
Tony was an openly gay, black socialist.
To provide some context for what life was like for the gay community in Utah back then,
our reporting team talked with Salt Lake City resident and self-described gay historian
Ben’s dedicated a significant amount of his life to researching and documenting LGBTQ
plus history in Utah.
He’s what most would consider an expert, not only on Salt Lake City’s gay history,
but also Tony’s case.
Ben and Tony actually had some mutual friends, and he spent countless hours interviewing
Tony’s loved ones and documenting his life to keep Tony’s memory alive.
Ben was in his 20s when Tony was killed, and he remembers the atmosphere of Salt Lake City
during that time well.
So let’s set the stage.
The year was 1978, Salt Lake City had roughly 600,000 residents, and Ben estimates that
fewer than 100 of those residents publicly acknowledged that they were gay because locals
were still holding tight to the stigma surrounding homosexuality at the time.
And honestly, a lot of people were unwelcoming to anyone who had opposing views or lived
differently than they did.
In fact, it was still illegal in Utah to be a homosexual and you could be arrested.
And so most people kind of, you could lose your job, you’d be arrested, you could be
kicked out of your apartment.
And so there was a lot of pressure for most people to kind of stay in the closet at that
But Tony was one of the few people in Salt Lake City who refused to stay closeted.
He was active in the gay community, and he even helped organize the state’s very first
gay protest in 1977, which was a bold move and props to him.
But even though he was a trailblazer making waves in a conservative city, I couldn’t
find any threats he’d received or anyone who openly hated Tony specifically.
In fact, Tony’s friends say that he was a really well-liked and respected guy within
He was passionate about topics that were important to him, but he wasn’t in-your-face aggressive
He just wasn’t afraid to shake things up.
Tony was known for writing letters to the editor talking about controversial topics.
We actually have two of those letters that you can read on our website at thedeckpodcast.com.
Tony’s letters caused such a stir in the city that readers would actually write back to
him in other letters to the editor trying to argue with him.
If his points hadn’t been clear and effective, then people wouldn’t be trying to rebut him.
So he did do that.
Tony was also a leader in the Salt Lake City chapter of the Socialist Workers Party.
And like I mentioned earlier, he was the campaign manager for William Hoyle, who was a socialist
running for Congress.
And again, Tony’s murder happened the weekend before the election.
So the question is, was Tony’s murder a carefully timed political assassination?
Did someone have it out for him for being a socialist in the very conservative state
These assassination and hate crime theories were gathering traction with Tony’s family
Even his pastor thought Tony had been targeted because he wasn’t afraid to depart from
But detectives weren’t really buying it.
They didn’t think that Tony’s murder was politically motivated or related to his sexual
orientation at all.
And we aren’t really sure why police didn’t consider this motive more seriously, because
the Salt Lake City Police Department rejected several opportunities to talk to our reporting
team about Tony’s case.
Regardless, it didn’t take long for the hate crime theory to hold more weight, because
later that same month, another member of the gay community was murdered.
Doug Coleman, another gay man in Salt Lake City, was found shot to death inside a railroad
car just three weeks after Tony’s murder.
Police didn’t think Doug was targeted because of his sexual orientation either, but that
was of little comfort to the local gay community.
And their murders, paired with the violence against the gay community across the country
at the time, left Salt Lake City’s gay community petrified.
In California, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office, had just
And there was also a string of murders targeting gay people across California.
Ben told our reporting team that after Tony and Doug’s murders, the gay community in
Salt Lake essentially went back into the closet for fear of their lives.
So there was just this kind of climate of fear.
There were serial killers going on in California.
There was gay people were just seen as somebody that if you killed a gay person, you were
doing society a favor at that time.
So that’s why a lot of people would just kind of, not only for their careers, they stayed
in the closet out of fear.
And especially after Tony Adams’ death, he was so prominent in the community, so many
people knew of him and his death, that it frightened the leaders that were out at that
time to the point that it took almost four to five years after Tony’s death for the gay
community in Salt Lake to recover.
Detectives didn’t think Doug and Tony’s murders were connected, but they didn’t want to totally
dismiss the possibility either.
So once investigators got a suspect in Doug’s murder, they took the suspect’s photo and
brought it to the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party to see if they recognized the
man or had seen him hanging out with Tony, just in case Tony’s murder was connected to
But the leaders said that they didn’t recognize the man in the picture at all.
So detectives asked for a full list of all party members so they could be interviewed
one by one and shown the picture.
But the leaders didn’t like the idea of just handing over the names of everyone in the
party, the very party that was being extremely vocal about Tony’s murder, maybe to the point
that it made police uncomfortable.
So instead of handing over all the party members, the leaders proposed a different approach.
They suggested that police give them a copy of the suspect’s picture so that they could
show everyone within their party.
This request would protect the members of the Socialist Workers Party, but still would
get the investigators the answers that they were looking for.
But police flat out refused.
They weren’t going to budge on wanting that list of names.
And this really rubbed the Socialist Workers Party the wrong way.
In 2018, investigative journalist Eric Peterson wrote a two-part series for the Salt Lake
Tribune in partnership with the Utah Investigative Journalism Project about Tony’s murder.
He interviewed a member of the Socialist Workers Party and friend of Tony’s named Clemens
Clemens remembered the party’s interaction with police vividly.
In the article, Eric Peterson wrote, quote,
Bach feared officers armed with a party membership list would show up at people’s workplaces
for interviews and get them fired.
To this day, he harbors no doubt about the police’s intent, end quote.
By the end of December, the Socialist Workers Party was fed up with how the police were
handling the investigation.
It had been almost two months since Tony was killed, and the investigation had gone nowhere.
They felt that police weren’t being open about the investigation and that they weren’t
taking Tony’s murder seriously.
So party members took matters into their own hands.
They band together and wrote a long letter requesting that the U.S. attorney for Utah
investigate Tony’s murder.
In the letter, Clemens Bach wrote, quote,
The Salt Lake City police are not pursuing this case with the attention which a political
crime of this type would merit.
Conflicting and confusing reports from the police as to physical evidence and the progress
of the investigation raise questions in our minds about the competence of the police
to investigate the murder of a man to whom they were actively hostile, end quote.
And listen, the party’s allegation that police were hostile toward Tony wasn’t a
baseless accusation, because just a few months before his murder, Tony had been arrested
for solicitation, and his arrest turned out to be quite controversial.
According to reports, here’s what police said happened.
They stumbled upon Tony’s phone number scrawled across a wall in a public restroom,
and they called him posing as a man who was interested in sex.
They say that Tony agreed to meet the man at a local hotel.
Now, it’s not clear if an exchange of money was mentioned during this conversation, but
regardless, when police arrived at the hotel, they arrested Tony and charged him with engaging
in sex work.
But Tony said he was innocent, and many of his friends thought that he was targeted just
because he was an openly gay man.
The Socialist Workers Party even published an article in their newsletter, The Militant,
alleging that Tony had been framed, and police were trying to bully him into spying on other
party members and anyone in the gay community.
But even if Tony did write his number on that bathroom wall, Ben Williams said there’s
a good chance that it wasn’t in an effort to find sex work.
Well, in the 1970s, there were no grinders or anything like that to help people connect
to data for sexual partners and things like that.
But a lot of people did write their numbers on bathroom walls or in stalls to basically
hook up with other people.
Because Tony wouldn’t plead guilty to the prostitution charge, he was scheduled to go
But for an unknown reason, the case was dismissed at the last minute, just a few days before
the court hearing and less than a week before his murder.
But it wasn’t just Tony that police were accused of being hostile toward.
It was the entire gay community.
You couldn’t go to the police for protection.
The police was seen as the enemy to gay people at that time.
So nobody reported any kind of bashing or being hit or anything that was going on, because
for one thing, it might be reported in the newspapers and you’d lose your job.
But the police weren’t really interested in investigating.
And it seems like the gay community’s fears really weren’t unfounded.
Police were rumored to have joked with each other about Tony’s murder and used offensive
slurs when talking about him.
Tony’s brother said police even used an anti-gay slur in front of him, referring to Tony.
And the name-calling didn’t stop there.
Ben Williams told us that a closeted police officer later came forward with an infuriating
story about his fellow officers.
They said that when Tony Adams was murdered, they used three real disparaging terms to
describe Tony Adams, you know, using the word, the N-word for him, calling him a communist
and calling him a queer and basically saying three strikes and you’re out.
Like they were laughing about the fact that, you know, that he was, you know, kind of like
a worthless person.
The days and weeks and months started passing by with no tips and no new leads.
Tony’s case grew colder and colder, and the buzz surrounding his murder seemed to wear off.
That is until January 1981, more than two years after Tony was killed.
That’s when the Socialist Workers Party received an alarming message.
On January 19th, according to reporting by the Daily Herald, the state headquarters of
the Socialist Workers Party was vandalized.
There were broken windows, a shattered glass door, and a note.
The note read, quote, death to the traitor communists, race mixers, and black rioters.
It’s time for some good old fashioned American justice, end quote.
But the note didn’t stop there.
Next to this threatening statement was a picture of a lynching.
Obviously, this was deeply unsettling to party members, especially in light of Tony’s semi-recent
murder that was still unsolved.
But once again, the Socialist Workers Party felt that police weren’t taking them seriously.
In the Daily Herald’s article, William Hoyle is quoted as saying,
the police claim this is a single act of vandalism and have refused to launch an investigation.
But we consider this a serious act of intimidation, especially since one of our officials was
murdered two years ago, end quote.
But maybe the reason police didn’t connect the two crimes is because they had already
settled into their own theories about what happened.
There wasn’t a ton of evidence pointing one way or another, so speculations were a
bit all over the place.
According to Eric Peterson’s reporting for the Salt Lake Tribune, one Salt Lake City
detective thought that Tony was killed by someone he’d picked up at a bar that weekend.
Maybe that 20-something-year-old man with the mustache that he was seen hanging out
with a couple of days before his body was found.
But police were never able to track that man down or get a better description of him.
So it was a pretty loose theory.
Other detectives believed Tony was targeted for being a supposed sex worker.
But a lot of investigators thought the murder wasn’t premeditated at all.
Because if it had been planned, why didn’t the killer bring their own weapon?
Another detective thought it was a crime of opportunity.
Maybe some quote-unquote street kids wanting to make a quick buck.
For years, a few mediocre theories were all police had.
And theories aren’t enough to solve a case.
So once tips stopped trickling in, the investigation came to a screeching halt.
And it stayed that way for more than 30 years.
Until one day, when police made a discovery that proved one of these theories wasn’t
so far-fetched after all.
In 2010, the Salt Lake City Police Department decided to do a cold case review of Anthony’s
Part of this process involved submitting the fingerprints found in Anthony’s apartment
in 1978 to a database that didn’t exist in the 70s.
It was called the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, also known as APHIS.
And one of those fingerprints that they submitted got a match that they hadn’t seen before.
A fingerprint lifted from Tony’s TV matched a woman named Mickey Henson.
Now Mickey’s name hadn’t come up at all over the course of the decades-long investigation.
Not as a friend or acquaintance, not as a suspect.
So why was her fingerprint found at Tony’s apartment?
Was she possibly the killer that police had been looking for all these years?
But here’s the thing.
By the time police matched the fingerprint to Mickey, she was already dead.
She died in 2004 from lupus, according to a case document filed by the Department of
But even though their brand new possible suspect was long gone, investigators still wanted
So they tracked down Mickey’s friends and family to find out why she would have been
at Tony’s apartment in 1978, and to find out if she had it in her to kill him.
Police learned that Mickey would have been just 16 years old and living in Salt Lake
City at the time of Tony’s murder.
A friend of hers from that time said that even though she was just a teenager, Mickey
had already lived a turbulent life.
She ran away from home when she was just 11 years old and started running with a rough
crowd and hanging out with other kids who were into hard drugs and robbery.
This friend police interviewed used the words wild and violent to describe 16-year-old Mickey.
And an ex-boyfriend said that Mickey definitely had a violent side.
Once during a particularly heated argument, he said that Mickey went as far as brandishing
a butcher knife and threatening to kill him.
Mickey’s violent streak wasn’t the only reason police saw her as a promising suspect.
According to the DOJ, Mickey was known to have an extreme hatred of gay people.
She was even suspected of associating with a group known for specifically targeting and
robbing gay people.
Now Mickey’s sister actually disputed that claim, that Mickey was homophobic when she
was interviewed for the Salt Lake Tribune article.
The sister said that Mickey herself was bisexual, and she even had a girlfriend at the time
of Tony’s murder.
But the LGBTQ plus community wasn’t the only marginalized group Mickey was rumored
She was known to be viciously racist, specifically toward black people.
According to the DOJ, Mickey’s friend was asked if Mickey would have ever been associated
with a black person.
Her response was an emphatic no.
Mickey only looked more suspicious when investigators learned that she was briefly acquainted with
none other than Joseph Paul Franklin, an infamous serial killer and self-proclaimed
white supremacist who targeted people who were black, biracial, or Jewish.
He went on a killing spree between 1977 and 1980 and murdered at least 15 people.
But the stack of suspicion against Mickey didn’t even stop there.
Much later in her life, when Mickey was super sick and convinced she would die at any moment,
a friend came to visit her.
According to the DOJ, during that visit, Mickey said something alarming.
Out of the blue, she blurted out, quote, I did something really, really, really bad,
But then she just stopped talking.
The friend said that Mickey never did elaborate on what she was talking about, but the friend
got the feeling that it was the start of a confession.
In 2012, Mickey was officially named a person of interest in Tony’s case.
But that’s as far as things have gotten.
I mean, Mickey’s dead and the only evidence against her is circumstantial.
Even the fingerprint, the most damning evidence against her could potentially be explained
If Mickey was bi and a member of the gay community, she may have gone to Tony’s apartment at
one point to just hang out.
Like I mentioned, Tony’s place was kind of the hangout spot for many people, especially
those in the gay community.
So since it was far too late for a confession and no eyewitnesses were coming forward putting
Mickey at Tony’s apartment the weekend of his murder, the case went cold again.
But then six years later in 2018, the Utah Investigative Journalism Project dove headfirst
into Tony’s murder and brought new life to the case.
They interviewed law enforcement, scoured public records, you name it.
And some of the information they uncovered was jaw dropping.
Eric Peterson’s two-part series for the Salt Lake Tribune details their research findings,
and you should definitely check out those articles.
I’m going to link to them in the blog post for this episode, which you can find on our
Anyway, as police were being interviewed by the Utah Investigative Journalism Project
and going back over Tony’s case with a fine tooth comb, they realized something very important
was missing, the murder weapon.
You heard me right.
The Butcher Knife Police had initially found the day Tony’s body was discovered had vanished.
But the Salt Lake City Police Department said that the knife wasn’t in their possession
when it vanished.
They said that the lab they sent it to must have lost it.
So bit of context here.
Back in the 70s, Utah’s state crime lab hadn’t opened yet.
So police supposedly would send their evidence to the University of Utah to be tested at
the Center for Human Toxicology.
So essentially police were saying it wasn’t their fault.
They couldn’t have lost the murder weapon because it hadn’t been in their possession
since they’d sent it to the university.
But here’s where things get really weird.
The Center for Human Toxicology’s director at the time of Tony’s murder, Brian Finkel,
said that the allegation that his lab lost the evidence was preposterous.
It literally wasn’t possible.
Not because his lab had some immaculate organization system or anything, but because the lab did
not handle physical evidence.
Brian Finkel told reporter Eric Peterson, quote, no, no, we wouldn’t do anything with
We dealt strictly with toxicology, end quote.
So basically Brian was saying there’s no way they ever took the murder weapon in the
first place because this lab only dealt with swabs to test for things like alcohol or drugs
or poison, never physical evidence.
Utah’s chief medical examiner at the time of Tony’s killing said, Brian’s right.
The university’s Center for Human Toxicology would have never accepted physical evidence
like a knife.
And according to Eric Peterson’s article, the police department now admits that they
have no idea if the university’s lab lost evidence.
So the million dollar question that no one can seem to answer is where is the knife that
killed Anthony Adams?
How do you lose a bloody butcher knife?
And you must be thinking like, oh, there must have been some clerical error or horrible
misunderstanding that led to the murder weapons disappearance.
But wait till you hear this.
A spokesperson told Eric Peterson there could be other cases also missing evidence, but
the department doesn’t know how many cases because they don’t have the manpower to
do a complete inventory of all of the evidence from their cold case files.
So members of the Utah investigative journalism project submitted a records request asking
for the evidence status of the city’s cold cases from around the time Tony was killed
from 1978 to 1984.
That’s 17 cases in total.
And police did review those 17 cases as requested.
And the report police generated listed only three of those cases as missing certain pieces
The first was Tony’s case.
The second, Douglas Coleman, the gay man who was gunned down the same month that Tony was
And the third was Mona Oliberi, a lesbian who was murdered in April 1979.
Again, missing from Tony’s file was the murder weapon and police wouldn’t comment
on the status of the second knife.
Missing from Doug’s case were some cigarette butts found near his body and missing from
Mona’s were fingernail clippings collected from the scene.
Three members of the gay community all killed within months of each other.
Their cases remain unsolved.
And now key evidence was missing in all three.
So was this mere coincidence or was there something more sinister going on?
And the answer to that is something only police would know for sure.
So I want to reiterate that our reporting team did reach out to the Salt Lake City Police
Department back in January, hoping to get some clarity, but they declined our request
for an interview.
We reached out again in April after hearing conflicting information about who discovered
Like police reports say that Tony’s two friends from William Hoyle’s campaign found
That’s what we said at the top of this episode.
But to this day, there are rumors that Tony’s boyfriend at the time, a guy named Bill Woodbury,
was actually the one who’d found Tony.
So we reached out to the police department for a second time, just asking them to confirm
what we read in the police reports.
And they responded, quote, we have no additional information to release on this matter.
Our efforts with that second query were to simply fact check conflicting information
that’s been reported, but the department wouldn’t even entertain our email.
Since we weren’t able to talk with police, it’s a bit unclear what their theories are
today about what happened the day of Tony’s murder.
It seems like the Mickey Henson robbery theory is the most likely scenario.
But Kara Porter told us that she’s not convinced.
In this case, it’s not just a knife.
It’s a knife with a guy who’s naked in his bathroom.
To me, that adds another layer that does make it likely that he would have known someone
Because if it was someone who got into the apartment and just wanted to do a quick burglary
thing, you’d be thrilled that the guy’s taking a bath in the bathroom and you would
just look around and then leave again.
You wouldn’t go looking for the guy.
Because of the way it is, it does seem personal.
It really does.
Tony was a passionate and brilliant young man who dedicated his life to doing what he
could to make the world a better and more accepting place.
But that life was senselessly and violently cut short.
For more than 40 years, questions about what happened to Tony and why have gone unanswered.
His family and friends have never known justice.
But someone out there has the power to change that.
If that person is you, if you have any information about the murder of Anthony Tony Adams, please
His family and friends and everyone who knew him deserves closure.
And Tony deserves justice.
You can call the Salt Lake City Police Department at 801-799-3000.
His case number is 1978-86442.
Or you can text TIP-SLCPD to 274637.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
So what do you think, Chuck?
Do you approve?