A cell phone signal helped Oklahoma police nab a Boulder man suspected of killing his estranged girlfriend just minutes before suspicious gas station attendants discovered her torso stuffed into a purple suitcase that had been left in a dumpster in another part of the state.
That cross-country odyssey that ended with the discovery of part of Ashley Mead’s body in a gas station dumpster in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, unfolded over four days and left investigators scouring multiple crime scenes in multiple states. The gruesome details were spelled out in an arrest warrant affidavit for Adam Densmore, 32, that was unsealed Friday.
Densmore, who also goes by the name Shamus Adam, faces charges of first-degree murder, two counts of tampering with a body, and abuse of a corpse, according to court documents.
Mead’s and Densmore’s 13-month-old daughter, apparently taken along during the six-state trip, was unharmed.
Investigators believe Densmore killed Mead the night of Feb. 12 – a Sunday – in the Boulder apartment they shared, then drove south and east through New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, where he visited family – and where she may have been at least partially dismembered. The trip went on through Arkansas before Oklahoma state troopers caught up with him west of Tulsa on Feb. 15.
According to the affidavit, Mead and Densmore met in 2011 in Louisiana when they worked in the same restaurant. In April 2015, Densmore was accepted into a culinary school in Boulder, and the couple ended their relationship and he moved to Colorado.
But shortly afterward, Mead discovered she was pregnant, and she came to Boulder in the fall of 2015.
After their baby was born, according to court documents, Densmore refused to sign the birth certificate because he no longer wanted to be known as Adam but as Semus. He always referred to the child as “Ashley’s daughter.”
Mead made it clear to multiple friends she wanted out of the relationship.
In one text message to a friend, Mead said, “I hate him on all levels.” In another, she included a photo of Densmore passed out on a couch and called him an “alcoholic” and a “blob.”
On Feb. 8, a paternity test confirmed that Densmore was the child’s father.
Mead was last seen late the afternoon of Feb. 12, taking out the trash.
The investigation began Feb. 14 after Mead failed to show up for her shift at Boulder County Head Start – something her colleagues described as “extremely unusual.”
When officers went to her Boulder apartment to look for Mead and her 13-month-old daughter, they found the front door unlocked, lights on, and food in the oven, which was turned off. Mead’s driver’s license rested on a dresser, and her cell phone was in the apartment. Later testing would reveal the presence of suspected blood in a bedroom and bathroom, according to the affidavit.
In interviews with various family members and friends, detectives learned that Densmore arrived at his father’s home in Haughton, Louisiana, the night of Feb. 13. He was driving a white older car that detectives believe was Mead’s Volvo and had the baby with him.
According to the affidavit, Densmore told family members “that he and Ashley had gotten into some sort of argument” and that he took the child and left. He also made a statement that “I did something stupid. Densmore’s father, whose name was redacted from the affidavit, said he interpreted that to mean his decision to take the child, who appeared “healthy and normal.”
At one point during the trip, family members returned from being away and detected “overwhelming smell of blead in a bathroom inside their home.”
On Feb. 15, Densmore called a Boulder detective and left a voicemail message, saying he heard police were looking for him. He said on the message he was headed back to Colorado. In a subsequent call, according to the affidavit, Densmore told a detective that he and Mead had been at her Boulder apartment the evening of Feb. 12 when they had “the worst argument they had ever had.”
“Adam described it as a massive argument,” according to the affidiavit. “Adam told Ashley, ‘I hate you and I hope you die.’” He told the officer that he meant it at the time – but that he regretted it – and said that when he left the apartment with the child Mead was alive and well.
During the phone call, cell phone tracking data showed he was west of Tulsa. An Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer stopped him and arrested him just after 1 p.m. Mountain time. The child was turned over to Oklahoma Child Protective Services. Surveillance video would later reveal that a vehicle believed to be the vehicle had been backed up to a dumpster outside a gas station in Okmulgee, located about 40 miles south of Tulsa, earlier that day.
As the arrest was unfolding, curious gas station workers noticed a purple suitcase inside the dumpster, opened it and found a human torso inside a black trash bag.
Densmore, who was being held without bail, is scheduled to be back in court Monday.