Teen may face homicide charge as an adult

Leah Adams

FRONT ROYAL – Authorities say a 17-year-old boy stabbed and killed a woman in town Saturday night and could face prosecution as an adult.

The Front Royal Police Department confirmed Monday afternoon that Leah Marie Adams, 19, of Front Royal, had suffered severe injuries as a direct result of stab wounds to her chest area. The state medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide.

The Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney plans to prosecute the juvenile as an adult, according to police department’s information.

The 17-year-old defendant remains held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Winchester.

The boy appeared in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court early Monday afternoon for a hearing to determine if he should remain in jail or be released into the custody of a parent or guardian. Winchester attorney David Hensley II is the boy’s court-appointed counsel.

Jessica Lambert, 30, a Chester Gap volunteer firefighter, places flowers beside a utility pole outside the 100 block of Kerfoot Avenue on Monday near the scene where police found Leah Marie Adams on Saturday night. Rich Cooley/Daily

Authorities charged the boy as a juvenile with one count of second-degree murder in Adams’ death. A conviction of the Class 2 felony carries a prison sentence of five to 40 years in prison if sentenced as an adult. Authorities have indicated that the juvenile likely would face additional charges.

A bailiff allowed several people connected to the case – either related to Adams or the juvenile defendant – to enter the courtroom during the proceedings. The bailiff denied members of the press entry into the courtroom.

A clerk in the court said later that day by phone that she could neither confirm nor deny that any detention hearings took place Monday afternoon. She did say that Judge William W. Sharp was the only judge present in court Monday.

Outside the courtroom after the proceedings, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton told the media that the juvenile remains held at the Northwestern Regional Juvenile Detention Center. A preliminary hearing has been tentatively set for April 6. Layton said he couldn’t comment further on the case.

Adams graduated from James Wood High School in 2016, according to information from Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications for Frederick County Public Schools.

Morgan Maly, of Front Royal, walks a pair of dogs along this section of Kerfoot Avenue where 19 year-old Leah Adams was found Saturday evening with stab wounds to the chest. She was pronounced dead at Warren Memorial Hospital. Rich Cooley/Daily

She started attending Lord Fairfax Community College in the fall to seek an associate’s degree in general studies, according to information from the school.

A statement from the college read,  “We at LFCC are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of one of our students, and offer our condolences to Ms. Adams’s family, friends and fellow students.”

Front Royal police responded shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday to a report of a possible hit-and-run involving a vehicle and a pedestrian that occurred in the 100 block of Kerfoot Avenue. Police also received a call for a report of an attempted burglary one block away in the 100 block of South Shenandoah Avenue.

Officers arrived to the hit-and-run call to find a woman with serious injuries. Emergency responders provided care to the woman later identified as Adams. A crew took Adams to Warren Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

At the same time, officers responding to the burglary call encountered a 17-year-old boy with minor injuries. Officers detained the juvenile and took him to Warren Memorial Hospital. Later, he was taken to the detention center where he was held without bond pending his appearance in court Monday.

Detectives and crash investigators responded to both scenes. They found Adams’ damaged vehicle within the proximity of both incidents.

Investigators determined that Adams sustained life-ending injuries not consistent with trauma indicative of a vehicle crash or a hit and run, according to information from the police department.

Police received additional information that indicated Adams and the juvenile were in a physical confrontation in the road just prior to police receiving the call.

Authorities said over the weekend that the juvenile could face additional charges pending further consultation with the commonwealth’s attorney and once the medical examiner’s office releases the autopsy report.

Police ask that anyone with more information about the case contact Detective David Fogle at 540-636-2208 or by email at dfogle@frontroyalva.com.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com