Man stopped with body in vehicle has a murderous past

Former convict in a murder-for-hire case arrested after fleeing police in Palmer

Posted: Wednesday, August 01, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A man who was stopped by police after a car chase and had the body of a woman in his back seat has a murderous past, according to The Anchorage Daily News.

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Frank L. Adams was arrested Saturday near the South Peters Creek exit of the Glenn Highway. He remains jailed on several vehicle-related counts, but has not been charged with the death of Stacey Johnston. According to Alaska State Troopers, the woman appeared to have been beaten.

Adams was arrested after he fled police in Palmer and headed toward Anchorage.

The Daily News reports that Adams was 16 when he was tried in the murder-for-hire of an Air Force colonel in Eagle River in 1978. The story was front-page news for months.

According to newspaper accounts at the time, Daniel Cassell hired Adams to murder his adoptive father, Col. Robert Cassell, on a promise of $2,000, a fancy chess set, a trip to New York and the dead man's car.

Adams testified at Daniel Cassell's trial. He said he and a 14-year-old accomplice did the killing. Adams said he entered the colonel's bedroom and struck him with a tire iron so often that the iron broke. Then he stabbed Robert Cassell in the chest twice and finally slashed his throat.

Daniel Cassell, 21, was convicted of first-degree murder and given a life sentence. He is still in prison, retired Anchorage police detective Joe Hoffbeck said Monday. Hoffbeck investigated the murder as a state trooper.

Prosecutors attempted to get Adams tried as an adult, but then-Superior Court Judge Justin Ripley said no. Both juveniles were tried in Family Court and sentenced to two years at McLaughlin Youth Center.

On release from McLaughlin on his 20th birthday in 1981, Adams told the newspaper his detention involved meeting with psychiatrists and was "a good experience."

"I don't think there'll ever be a day in my life when I don't think about the horrible thing I did," he said at the time. "It almost ruined my life."

Adams, now 45, was charged Saturday with failing to obey an officer's order to stop, resisting arrest, reckless driving and driving while intoxicated. He remained in custody Monday at the Anchorage jail, held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Adams appeared in court Monday to answer a warrant in a separate Fairbanks case accusing him of violating a domestic-violence protective order. He is being held on $500 bail in that case, according to a booking officer.

The name of the complainant in the Fairbanks case was not available Monday, and it was unclear if it was also the dead woman.

Johnston filed her complaint against Adams in Palmer District Court in mid-May, according to online court records. Investigators were uncertain Monday of Adams' relationship to Johnston, said Trooper Sgt. Craig Allen.

Adams has a long criminal history with 19 prior convictions dating to 1984, including two DWI's, resisting arrest and a failure to appear, according to the court papers.

However, his record actually dates back to the Cassell murder in 1978 when he was tried as a juvenile. Today, youths of 16 and 17 are automatically waived into adult court if they commit serious felonies, but 28 years ago that was not the case.

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