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Reward offered in 1982 Halloween slaying of Depew High senior

For well over 34 years, Lancaster Town Police have been trying to find out who killed 18-year-old James Adamski after a Halloween party.

The vicious crime has been investigated repeatedly since 1982, without luck. Now, police are hoping a $10,000-plus reward will help them to find the answers that have eluded them for decades.

Town police and officials of the Crime Stoppers Buffalo program announced the posting of the reward Thursday.

"We've tried everything else, and we've kind of hit the wall on this case," said Detective Lt. James N. Robinson of the town police. "It could take just one person, with the right information, to come forward and help us make this case. If nothing else, it would provide some closure to this young man's family."

Police Chief Gerald Gill said he has tried many times to imagine what happened to Adamski after he walked away from the Transit Road bar that night.

"These are the cases that keep a police officer awake at night," said Gill. "We hope the reward finally helps to bring this family some justice."

The reward was announced in a news conference at Lancaster's police headquarters. Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn Jr. joined Lancaster police for the announcement.

A senior at Depew High School, Adamski had attended an "all you can drink" Halloween party at a bar on Transit Road in Depew. He disappeared after heading off on foot toward his Cheektowaga home early Halloween morning. Police said he was last seen walking alone along Transit Road near Broadway at around 3:30 a.m.

Cold Case Files: 34 years later, Halloween murder haunts family

His mother, the late Rosemarie Adamski, called police the next morning to report her son missing. Adamski's body was not found until nearly two months later. Rabbit hunters discovered the body under some brush off Ransom Road in Lancaster on Dec. 26, 1982, about 4 miles from where James was last seen alive. He had been brutally beaten with a blunt instrument.

Police theorize that the killer was familiar with the area where Adamski's body was found.

"His body was found in an area near some railroad tracks, well off the road, an area that would not be well-known or easily accessible to most people," Gill said.

Adamski was still wearing his gaudy Halloween costume, police said.

Over the years, State Police have assisted Lancaster detectives in their investigation. Police said dozens, if not hundreds of potential witnesses have been interviewed since the slaying.

"Over the years, we've looked into three possibilities – that he was the victim of a serial killer, that someone who saw him at the Halloween party killed him, or that he was picked up as a hitchhiker and that the person who picked him up killed him for some reason," Robinson said. "The killer knows what happened. Maybe the killer told someone else, and we hope that person will tell us."

News clippings from The Buffalo Evening News' coverage of the 1982 slaying of James Adamski, 18.

Flynn said it is possible that somebody who was at the Halloween party that night in 1982 may have observed some kind of interaction that seemed unimportant at the time, but could turn out to be significant. He asked that anyone who witnessed anything even slightly unusual contact authorities.

Police said they have never found evidence that anything that happened at the party led to the slaying.

When Adamski left the party, Robinson said, a young woman walked south with him along Transit Road for "about 300 to 400 yards" before the two went their separate ways. The young woman was questioned, but police found no reason to suspect that she was linked to the murder.

"His killer still walks free,” Flynn said. “This young man’s life was taken way too soon, and his family has been waiting for answers far too long.”

The police department will use $10,000 that was forfeited by a drug dealer to fund the reward, according to Gill. The Crime Stoppers Buffalo program will add up to $1,000 more to the fund.

"Hopefully, we can put this drug dealer's money to a good use," Gill said.

Andy Adamski, 42, told The News this week he hopes the reward will inspire a witness to come forward. He said he still misses James, whom he described as a thoughtful, caring and fun-loving older brother who was generous to a fault. He said his mother, who died in 2005, and his father, Bernard, who died in 2000, never got over their loss.

"I feel like my parents never have rested in peace," Andy Adamski said. "Maybe an arrest in this case would help them to finally rest in peace...I just want this to be over."

In addition to Andy Adamski, the victim is survived by another brother and a sister.

"We want this family to know, in no uncertain terms, that the case will remain open," Gill said. "We're not going to give up."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers Buffalo at 716-867-6161 or email info@crimestoppersbuffalo.com.

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