DADE CITY — Lynda McAdams and her boyfriend didn't show up to work one Monday in late October 2009. Two more days went by with no word, and family members reported them missing.
Detectives searched McAdams' home, near Darby, and found blood on the floor, a bullet lodged in a wall and bloody clothes in the washing machine.
They set out to find her estranged husband, Michael, who had recently agreed to his wife's request for a divorce. When they found him in the driveway of his Spring Hill home, he agreed to talk.
He rode with a deputy to a sheriff's station in Hernando County, where two Pasco detectives met with him in a small interview room.
They told him he wasn't under arrest and could leave anytime.
Meanwhile, out in the lobby, a lawyer who had been hired by McAdams' parents walked in and asked to speak to his client. He said he wanted the detectives to stop questioning McAdams.
The lawyer was turned away — was told the detectives could not be interrupted — and within hours, McAdams confessed to the double murder.
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People have a right to remain silent when police want to question them, and they have a right to an attorney. They are required to be advised of these rights, but only when they are being questioned while in custody.
If they are deprived of their rights, then the evidence obtained against them can be thrown out. That's what McAdams' attorneys were asking for in a hearing Thursday.
Both sides agree McAdams wasn't read his rights until after he confessed. The question is, was McAdams in custody during that questioning?
His lawyers argued that he had every reason to believe he was. He had been taken to the station in the back of marked patrol car. He was escorted by several uniformed deputies when he asked to use the bathroom.
The detectives made vague warnings about the heartache and embarrassment his family would feel if he didn't clear things up.
"Did you think you could just get up and walk out of there?" McAdams' attorney, Tom Hanlon, asked him.
"No. They had me sitting there. There were two detectives and a uniformed police officer outside," McAdams, 50, testified.
But under cross examination, McAdams acknowledged that he never asked to leave. He never said he wanted to stop talking. He called one of the detectives a gentleman.
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Lynda and Michael McAdams were married 24 years and had two teenage daughters. She worked for a graphic design company where she became romantically involved with William Andrews, a co-worker. McAdams was a longtime carpenter for Pinellas County schools. In 2009, the couple had agreed amicably to divorce.
But sheriff's officials say that on Oct. 18, a Sunday, Michael McAdams drove to their house on Palomino Lake Drive and got into an argument with Lynda, 46, and Andrews, 37.
At some point, authorities said, Michael McAdams retrieved a handgun hidden under a milk pot just outside the front door and shot and killed Andrews, then his wife. According to the Sheriff's Office, he tried to clean up the crime scene.
And after he confessed to the detectives five days later, he led them out to the site where he buried the bodies, in a rural area of Spring Hill.
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The detectives who questioned McAdams that day already knew about the blood in the house and the bullet in the wall. They couldn't tie McAdams to any crime yet, but they were suspicious.
But Circuit Judge Susan Gardner said Thursday in her ruling it didn't matter what they knew, only how they acted. They didn't threaten McAdams or yell at him.
Legally speaking, the judge said, McAdams was not in custody. She denied the motion to throw out McAdams' confession — meaning if and when he goes to trial, the jury will see the videotape of him admitting he killed his wife and her lover.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.