Forgotten and Unsolved: Murder of Melvin Royale Adams 1983

Murder Victim

Melvin Royale “Mez” Adams
Royal Canadian Air Force veteran
Cause of Death: Stabbed
Motive: Drinking Party Gone Wrong

Murder Scene and Date

Cabin south of Agency, Iowa
Wapello County
February 13, 1983


By Nancy Bowers
Written March 2012

location of Agency, Iowa

location of Agency, Iowa

In early 2010, a family member of murder victim Melvin Royale “Mez” Adams personally contacted me about his 1983 case, which had faded into obscurity. His homicide was not listed by any state or local agency and received almost no attention at the time it occurred.

This person strongly believes that Adams was killed by a drinking companion and that law enforcement did little to investigate his death. The relative possesses a diary in which Adams jotted his thoughts.

Adams’s body was discovered on February 13, 1983 by Wapello County resident Betty Dyer inside a small cabin located on the Coghlan property off Cemetery Road just northeast of the Cliffland Bridge at the Des Moines River.

Adams was partially decapitated and was murdered only five days after his 55th birthday.

☛ Melvin Adams’s Life ☚

Mez Royale was buried in the Ottumwa Cemetery

Mez Adams was buried in the Ottumwa Cemetery

Melvin Royale “Mez” Adams was born in Norwich, Windsor County, Vermont, on February 8, 1928 to Nellie Franceine Ackerson and Leon Henry Adams. He had three siblings — Raymond Ross Adams, Victor Adams, and Evelyn Mamie Adams.

During WWII, Adams served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He married Betty Mae Pentzer Shoemaker. They had no family together, although Betty had two children from a previous marriage. The couple was not living together at the time of his death, and Betty passed away in 1988.

Those who knew “Mez” said he was a good person. He had a strong Vermont accent, was quite handsome in his youth, and hid a very intelligent mind beneath a placid demeanor.

However, Mez Adams was known to drink too much, which made sustaining a relationship difficult and which may have figured into his tragic death.

Melvin Adams is buried in an unmarked grave in the Ottumwa Cemetery.

Please note: Use of information in this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.


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