“I wish Jacob hadn’t killed them. I wanted to see them go to jail, to pay publicly for what they did to us.”
“The law would never have done anything to them. They would never have been punished. Never.”
Colorado Springs considers itself a law and order community. But in El Paso County justice is as selective as it is across America. While Jacob was still awaiting trial, Vern Smalley, a retired colonel was tried for blowing away a seventeen-year-old. The two had been engaged in an angry game of bumper tag during morning traffic. After the teenager motioned him over to the side of the road, Smalley, who patrolled the highways like some aging Road Warrior, removed a gun from his glove compartment and rolled down his window. The kid walked up to him. Some witnesses say he punched Smalley. Others say he didn’t. Smalley testified that his pistol accidentally discharged into the teenager’s chest. Experts countered that the pistol couldn’t possibly have accidentally done anything. The youth, Carmine Tagliere, died instantly, along the shoulder of that busy highway. The jury acquitted Vern Smalley and the community agreed. “Smalley was just protecting his property,” was the most common response. The prosecutor, who happened to be Bill Aspinwall, lamented the fact that the jurors had held a mere teenager as fully accountable for his actions as a fifty-two year old man. Interesting line of reasoning. A seventeen-year-old can’t possibly have the reasoning capacity of an adult—unless he’s fifteen and his name is Jacob Ind, of course.
Soon after Jacob’s verdict, a fourteen year old girl plea bargained the murder of her seventeen-year-old boyfriend. The shooting had been premeditated. Angelique Thomas hadn’t been in fear for her life so self defense wasn’t a factor. The court sentenced Angelique to six years’ probation.
Immediately following Jacob’s verdict, co-prosecutor Gordon Dennison declined to prosecute a seventy-one-year-old retired military man (Dennison himself is a former military prosecutor), who, after an argument with his wife, ran over her with a truck. When she didn’t die, he backed up and ran over her again. No charges were ever filed against the murderer, who was deigned to be too old to be held accountable for his actions.
A year after Jacob’s trial, Eugene Baylis was acquitted of walking into a biker bar, killing two men and injuring several others. Following an earlier altercation, Baylis had gone home, loaded himself up with grenades and enough firepower to equip a militia and returned to open fire on his tormentors. Since this involved the death penalty, Baylis had at his disposal a crack team of defense attorneys who spent two years working specifically on his case. They proved that, despite police and eyewitness accounts to the contrary, Baylis had been shot at first and acted out of self defense. D.A. Suthers, who obviously believes that the only good jury is one that returns a guilty verdict, castigated the twelve for their contrariness—though more than ninety percent of local cases end with a conviction. If this were a communist country or a banana republic, we would scoff at a system so stacked against the rights of the individual. We would dismiss its proceedings as a “kangaroo court.” Instead, we Americans call it “justice.”
And as far as the idea that the law would have taken care of Kermode and Pamela Jordan, two examples will suffice.
One year after Jacob’s sentencing, seventy-two year old Francis Everett, a senior volunteer at a local elementary school, went before Judge Looney on a sexual assault charge. Everett admitted to taking the hands of seven first- and second-grade girls and placing them on his penis while he read them stories in class. The acts took place over a two-year period and were witnessed by many of the other children. Everett also admitted sexually assaulting another young girl, a family friend, while baby-sitting her.
Looney approved a “stringent plea agreement.” Everett will remain free so long as a therapist deems he can be rehabilitated. If he is found eligible for treatment, Looney will either sentence him to probation or a community corrections program. Under Everett’s plea agreement, which was drafted by one of D.A. Suthers’ prosecutors, the self-admitted child molester will also undergo a polygraph test to help determine whether he has sexually abused other children. If so, he is to name names in order that these additional victims will receive proper counseling. In exchange, the prosecutor will not file additional charges—regardless of whether Everett has molested one additional child or one hundred.
While Everett is required by law to stay away from children under the age of eighteen, including his own grandchildren, Looney said, “I will probably never agree to unsupervised visits. I might agree to supervised contact.”
Another example of “child protection” occurred, yet again, in Woodland Park. Soon after Jacob killed his parents, one of his classmates, Lonny Smith (*) told WPHS counselors that his father had been raping him and his two brothers for years. The counselor reported the abuse and the boys, two of whom were underage, were yanked out of the home. One of the investigators told Lonny—as if he were to blame—”You’re never going to see your father again.” Although Lonny was sixteen at the time, he ended up living with a couple of other teens and eking out an existence until graduating. Nothing was ever made public about the father’s crime. The family was not well off, but the dad was very active in the community. He received five years in a work release program—meaning that he works in the community during the day and returns to a facility at night. All of Lonny’s classmates were aware of both the molestations and the subsequent “punishment,” which they regard as a sick joke.
Recently my daughter, who is friends with all three brothers, told me, “As it turns out, Lonny’s stepmother was also molesting the boys.”
“Yeah? What happened to her?”
“She divorced the father and left town.”
The saga of the Jordan murders entered its final phase with the trial of Gabriel Adams in October, 1994. From the outset, the proceedings possessed a totally different feel. For one thing, most of the spectator seats were empty, as were the spots marked “Reserved for the media.” The press, watching from the same cubbyhole opposite the courtroom, complained that the Adams’ trial was a dull imitation of its predecessor. News coverage was far less comprehensive. Jacob had generally been the lead both on TV and in the Gazette Telegraph. Columnist Raymond McCaffrey had written a series of insightful articles, devoting more space to the Ind trial than to any other event in his career. This time McCaffrey never even put in an appearance. Few people lingered in the hallway or asked questions or made comments. Jacob’s case had possessed all the high drama of Christians being fed to the lions. Gabriel’s trial seemed more a match of battle-weary opponents wanting only to slink away without inflicting mortal damage on anyone.
Gabriel Adams entered the room, wearing a cardigan sweater and pink shirt. His long brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail. Initially I mistook Adams for a girl. I was surprised by how small he was. At the time of his arrest Major had been 5’6″ and 111 pounds. Since then he had put on weight and grown, but if I hadn’t known, I would have pegged him at a shade over five feet and one hundred pounds. I kept wondering how someone so tiny could have inflicted such damage on Kermode and Pamela. His smallness made me uneasy, as if I’d discovered raisins in a package marked chocolate chips. Something unexpected and a tad unpleasant. A gun is a great equalizer, but the .22 hadn’t immobilized either Kermode or Pamela. How had Major managed to keep one person at bay while inflicting damage upon the other? The bear mace hadn’t put in an appearance until much later. And if the spray was as deadly as the prosecution maintained, why hadn’t it incapacitated Gabriel and Jacob as well as Kermode and Pamela? Obviously, stress and shock can make people react in odd ways. Awakened out of a dead sleep by gunshots and a knife wielding maniac in the darkness of one’s bedroom would be terrifying enough to paralyze anyone, but I remained troubled by the same old question: How could Gabriel Adams have handled two people? Why hadn’t Pamela bolted when Major had been struggling with Kermode? Why hadn’t she raced out the french doors leading to the deck? That exit was only a few feet from the bed, and could not have been blocked by Gabriel, who would have been preoccupied with Kermode. Pamela could easily have negotiated the twelve feet drop and run to the neighbors. If nothing else, she could have screamed for help from the deck. Or she could have fled downstairs to one of the phones and called 911. She could even have dialed from the princess phone on the night stand beside her bed. Not for the first time did I feel uneasy about the entire scenario. The Jordan murders still didn’t add up.
The trial got underway. The prosecution intended to prove that Gabriel had cold-bloodedly executed Pamela and Kermode Jordan, the defense that Gabrial was an innocent dupe in the hands of Jacob and Charles. The same parade of prosecution witnesses testified—sheriff’s deputies explaining how they discovered the corpses, WPHS’s principal and counselor recounting Jacob’s confession, the arrests of the two teens. Bill Aspinwall was as thorough as always, though his manner was far less intense. Gone were the fireworks, the nasty comments, the petulance and viciousness so omnipresent during Jacob’s trial. He even displayed an occasional spark of humor.
On Monday, November 7, 1994, Gabriel’s tape recorded statement was played for the court, finally providing the media twenty minutes of drama. Prior to the recording the biggest excitement had revolved around whether Jacob would appear and what would he say. (His appearance was brief. He wouldn’t snitch, and that was about the extent of his testimony, leaving reporters to comment that he had gained twenty pounds since sentencing.) Gabriel’s defense claimed that their client hadn’t even pulled the trigger, that he had been the Ind brothers’ pawn. Would Major’s story back that up?
Gabriel was questioned at the Woodland Park police department. As a juvenile, he had the right to make his statement in the presence of his parents and occasionally his mother and father could be heard interjecting a question or comment.
Once Officers Mike Rulo and Nick Adamovich and the three Adams’s were seated around the conference table, Adamovich advised Gabriel of his Miranda rights and Major launched into his account of the Jordan murders.
On December 16 Gabriel had remained at WPHS until nearly eight p.m. He and his mother had worked the band concession stand. Then, after returning home and fixing himself a sandwich, Gabriel had helped his dad bring in the Christmas tree. While the two men strung colored lights, Gabriel’s mother and sister began decorating. Around 10:15, Gabriel retreated to his bedroom, which was located on the first floor, off the open living area. After washing up in his bathroom, adjacent to his room, Gabriel shut his door. His bedroom was a typical teenager’s rat’s nest strewn with papers, clothes, food and other unmentionable things that parents fear investigating too closely.
As Gabriel readied for bed, his parents heard him coughing—he had a cold—and moving around. Soon after, Danny, who worked graveyard at a Cripple Creek casino, also retired to the master bedroom, which, along with a second bedroom and bath, was located upstairs.
Gabriel had already promised Jacob that he would be over later that evening to teach the fifteen-year-old how to use a samurai sword. While the late hour might seem strange, Jacob’s parents didn’t know about the sword and would have confiscated it so the lessons had to be secret. Gabriel didn’t know Jacob Ind very well. They had been riding the same bus for about three weeks and Major, who was mechanically inclined, had gone to Jacob’s house once in order to fix a radio. At that time, he had met Kermode and Pamela, though he couldn’t identify them by name. Major also knew Charles, but only slightly. Jacob’s older brother had told him he’d left home because of his parents and that had been the extent of their conversation.
Gabriel rested on his bed, which consisted solely of a mattress heaped with clothes and bedding, waiting for everyone to retire. He heard his mom and sister laughing and talking as they worked. Finally, around eleven p.m., the townhouse was quiet. After donning his trench coat and grabbing his swords, Major slipped out his bedroom window and headed for the Jordan residence.
Highway 67 was largely deserted. Gabriel walked swiftly, following Lovell Gulch Road through the development of Sunnywood Manor.  When Gabriel spotted Jacob’s house, high on the hill, it was completely dark. That didn’t deter Gabriel. Swinging around an upper road to the back of 120 Ridge, he approached through a field. Upon arrival he didn’t even have to knock. The door was open and Jacob was waiting for him in the foyer.
“Hi,” said Jacob. “Let me get my sword.”
Gabriel deposited his own swords on the hardwood floor in the entrance, near the mirrored hall tree and the stairs leading up to the bedrooms and down to the rec room. He also removed his boots and trench coat. The house remained dark and still, but Gabriel never thought to question what many might consider a curious situation. He followed Jacob to the upper level, along the carpeted hall lined with wooden frames and plastic frames and metal frames displaying hundreds of photos of the handsome Jordan family. Major had no idea that he was being escorted to the master bedroom, flush at the end of the hall. He didn’t see any guns or anything in Jacob’s hands. Never once did he suspect that anything was wrong.
They reached Pamela and Kermode’s room. Jacob went in first but somehow Gabriel was pushed inside and the door suddenly slammed shut. Gabriel was standing right next to Jacob, whom he assumed had closed the door. But it was so dark inside with only the light from the french doors on the opposite wall. Major didn’t know the room’s layout, and couldn’t see that Kermode rested only inches away in the four poster bed.
Before Gabriel’s eyes could adjust to the gloom, “a lot…a group of” gunshots rang out. Major saw the muzzle flash right in front of him, but couldn’t make out much of anything else. He was terrified.
“I thought (Jacob) was trying to shoot at me so I got down, and then I heard the moans and groans and somebody moving around me. It was like in the bed, so I wasn’t sure…
“I remember my face was burning. I thought I was shot, and I felt a knife, so I grabbed the knife and I tried to get the knife out and I thought it was Jacob’s hands, but it wasn’t. Jacob wasn’t strong enough.”
It was somebody big and burly. Gabriel identified his assailant as Kermode Jordan.
“My hands were cut up.” Major sounded excited as he recounted the night’s events. “I felt it. I grabbed the knife.”
At one point on the tape, he said he tried to grab “the blade of MY knife.” When Officer Rulo pressed him about that particular adjective, he backtracked, saying, “THE knife. I grabbed the blade of the knife, that’s what I said.”
Throughout Gabriel’s recitation, one or both of the officers occasionally interrupted with questions. Their voices were calm and neutral, as if they were discussing the plot of an uninspired television drama, rather than a real life murder. Danny Adams, Gabriel’s father, also broke in, urging, “You need to tell the truth completely.”
Back in the Jordan’s bedroom, Gabriel felt the knife cut through his blue t-shirt and his hand. (No slashes were found in the shirt.)
Major said, “I tried to twist (the knife) but it kept just pushing and pushing and I was pushed up against the wall. When I heard another shot, my fingers started to hurt and I thought it was still Jacob after me.”
He described a burning sensation on his hands, and attributed that to the heat of a gunshot zinging past, burning the air as it flew.
Suddenly, Jacob turned on the bathroom light. “And I saw Jacob’s dad and mom on the ground…I thought Jacob was trying to shoot me, but he was shooting his own father.”
After it was all over, Jacob wrapped the weapons in one of his shirts and thrust them at Gabriel. “Jacob gave [the pistols and the knife] to me. I didn’t know why he didn’t shoot me again.”
Jacob said, “If you don’t get rid of the guns I’ll kill your parents too.”
Gabriel obeyed, he said with a sob in his voice, because “I didn’t want my parents to get hurt. He just killed his parents. He would have killed mine.” Gabriel wanted to terminate Jacob, but he was afraid. “He said if I touched him that he would kill my parents, too, and I believed him.”
Gabriel left immediately. He had spent a total of twenty minutes at the Jordan residence, so he places the murders around 12:20. He immediately went home, running along the road, carrying the weapons, frightened out of his mind. He reached his bedroom sometime after three a.m. He couldn’t be more specific because a piece of clothing covered up all but the three on the face of his clock. Which meant it had taken him nearly three hours to traverse that two mile distance.
Once home, Gabriel removed his trench coat, his jeans and old brown hiking boots. He went into his bathroom and tended to his hands, which had several gashes. Then he flopped down on his bed. His sheets only partially covered the mattress, and some blood dripped onto it. He lay in the darkness, beside the plastic chair where he’d buried the murder weapons, pondering everything that had happened. What had he been thinking and feeling?
“It’s vague,” he told the officers, concluding his version of events.
Just being caught up in the drama of the moment, hearing Gabrial’s distraught tone, “the crying sounds, but without tears,” as Officer Rulo later testified, it was easy to believe the defendant’s version of events.
So long as one didn’t probe too deeply.
Which Mike Rulo and Nick Adamovich immediately proceeded to do. They told Gabriel that evidence placed him at the scene, taking part in the crime.
“Tell us exactly what happened,” one urged. “We need to know the truth. We’re just looking for the facts.”
Rulo said, “If you were being set up by Jacob, the evidence will show that. Physical evidence does not lie.”
Adamovich chimed in. “Certain things you’ve told us don’t jibe. We need the facts.”
“I’m telling you the facts,” Gabriel said, sounding irritated.
The officers then examined his cuts. Gabriel displayed a wound on his chest that he said came from the struggle. While fending off the knife attack, he’d deflected the blade down, toward his chest. The officers noted that the wound had scabbed over, indicating it wasn’t fresh.
When Gabriel again mentioned his fear of Jacob as the reason why he took the guns, Danny Adams interrupted. “You should have told us.”
“If I had, Jacob would have killed me.”
When the officers pointed out that Gabriel had the weapons, he insisted that he was still afraid. According to a curious statement he made near the end of the tape, Gabriel also indicated that he was fearful of yet a third—or even a fourth—party.
His father asked, “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“If I would have told you that, they would have gone to HIM and DAVE would have killed you.”
Was that a reference to David Mabie? That and similar remarks were never investigated by the prosecution or the defense, just as Jacob’s charges of perjury were never investigated. It is apparent from the tape that Gabriel believed at least one more person was involved, though he wasn’t certain who.
Which did not help his defense attorneys in their case against Charles. Because if Charles had been actively involved, wouldn’t Gabriel have known? Since Jacob was asking everybody he came in contact with to murder his parents, could he have kept quiet to his co-conspirator about his older brother’s involvement? He certainly wasn’t discreet about anything else. And if Major had known, wouldn’t he have gladly fingered a second Ind in order to save himself? Someone with his background and reputation would never fear Charles. Major had no reason to remain silent—unless he was already adhering to the prison code, which is, “Never snitch.”
And if Charles had actually participated in the murders, as the defense speculated, surely Gabriel would have seen him restraining Pamela or firing the fatal shots. Unless it was dark the entire time, as Major maintained. Gabrial was insistent that whoever came at him with a knife was too bulky to be Jacob. Ballistics later indicated that the gunshots might have come from someone taller. But wielding a knife doesn’t seem like something either brother would do. And if Charles was the attacker, why wasn’t he cut up? (Actually, no one checked him for anything because he wasn’t a suspect.) Finally, when the lights came on, where would Charles have hidden?
No, if Charles had been involved, Gabriel would have told.
Or had he?
When Charles was called as a prosecution witness, spectators anticipated fireworks. Gabriel’s defense was adamant that Charles was the puppeteer behind the puppets. Now was their chance to prove it. Bill Aspinwall began the questioning. This time around he was Charles’s champion, gently leading him through events.
“There isn’t one shred of physical evidence linking Charles to the crimes,” Aspinwall later said. During Jacob’s trial, he had inferred that Charles was a cold-hearted liar interested only in collecting the Jordan inheritance. Now Charles was the courageous older brother and Jacob, formerly the monstrous schemer, was a dupe in the hands of a Ninja warlord.
When defense attorney Mike Warren’s turn came, the courtroom braced for an explosion. Warren had publicly fingered Charles as the mastermind. Earlier, he had made a big deal out of a life insurance policy that had been found on top of a filing cabinet in the Jordans’ garage a few days after the murders. He seemed to be implying that money-grubbing Charles had gone into the house looking for it. He had also mentioned something about a rock used as a doorstop for the french doors. Was he hinting that Charles had watched the murders from the deck? Or that he had entered through those french doors, and had been the one to hold his mother at bay?
Warren, a heavy-set man with a greying beard and intense manner, directly asked Charles about the missing dogs. During the funeral, Charles had commented, “They’re history,” and Warren theorized that he might have helped get rid of them. He then questioned Charles about a previous statement he had made, that he and Jacob had wanted their parents dead ever since they were little.
Charles answered calmly and carefully. “The family dogs were gone a week or so before… My comment meant nothing beyond the obvious.”
And he and Jacob may have said they wanted their parents dead, but that was just talk. Warren never mentioned the life insurance policy or the makeshift doorstop.
“Where were you on the night of the murders?” Warren asked. Michelle Mendez, Charles’s roommate, had been subpoenaed to testify once again that he had no alibi for the time of the murders. Warren appeared to be laying the groundwork for the time when they would call Charles back on the stand, and spring their trap.
Charles repeated that he’d had the flu and had never left his residence. He remained unruffled throughout and smoothly recounted Jacob’s confession. Gabriel had initiated the killings, had shot Kermode and Pamela six times and had been the one to wield the knife. When Charles mentioned that Major later went into Jacob’s room carrying “a blood-dripping knife,” Warren pounced on him. No blood had been found on Jacob’s carpet. From the very beginning, the defense had been trying to paint Jacob as a liar.
“Has he [Jacob] lied to you before?” asked Warren.
“He has,” Charles replied, without elaborating.
Charles might have been on the stand for a total of two hours. Warren reserved the right to call him back and once he left, worried to Judge Looney that the oldest Ind might try to thwart the subpoena rather than face the defense. Maybe so, but if Charles was anxious, he had done an excellent job of hiding it.
Closing arguments. Despite the fact that Bill Aspinwall had introduced the same three hundred pieces of physical evidence, as well as heard all the testimony only four months previously, he had remained doggedly attentive throughout the month long trial. Now, he methodically laid forth to the attentive jury all the reasons Gabriel had killed the Jordans, just as he’d done with Jacob. He and his partner re-created the murders, leaving Mike Warren to argue that the prosecution’s case was based on a great deal of questionable evidence, including what Warren termed “Jacob said” evidence.
Warren tried hard. He charged that the various pieces of evidence were enough to cause jurors to reasonably doubt the prosecution’s case. The knife cuts on Gabriel’s hands could be defensive, rather than offensive. Adams COULD have been attacked by some unknown intruder. Warren mentioned problems with some of the physical evidence. But he hadn’t proven his major assertion–that Charles Ind was the mastermind. His case had been so weak that he hadn’t even bothered to have Charles return as a defense witness. Warren had thrown out a lot of threads, but he’d failed to tie any of them together. He was a good attorney. He’d fought hard for his client. But, either the evidence really hadn’t been there, or once again the law had sidestepped the truth by disallowing it, as those close to the defense later maintained.
“I leave you with this,” Warren said in closing. “I leave you with Gabe’s life. I have protected him. We have throughout all of this time… This will pass out of your life, as it will pass out of mine. We attorneys will] be down the hall butting heads again. But it’s not going to pass out of his life.”
The jury deliberated seven hours before returning with its verdict. Guilty of murder in the first degree.
When the verdict was read, Gabriel, who’d been singing a gospel song in the holding cell, blinked once. No other reaction, save for that eerie half smile.
The prosecution had once again triumphed. Co-prosecutor Dan Kay told reporters the verdict ended “one of the saddest, darkest hours in Woodland Park history… We’ve thought all along that Gabriel Adams was the driving force.” Kay added that Jacob probably would never have killed his parents alone.
Bill Aspinwall also spoke to the cameras. “Frankly, I think both boys are real dangerous, and dangerous beyond this case. That was the concern from my standpoint–that they could hurt again and hurt again violently.”
“I feel like hell,” said Mike Warren. “I’m going to go up and sit by the river.”
 For example, more than 400 defense motions were filed. In Jacob’s case, I’ve received conflicting numbers–anywhere from ten to thirty.
 In court it was brought out that Jacob’s parents indeed knew about the sword. Kermode had actually been with him when he bought it, and I had seen the sales receipt for that and a couple of antique bayonets.
Afterword(click to read conclusion)