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Adam James SAPIKOWSKI

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (16) - Parricide - Argument over a girlfriend and grades
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: April 28, 2005
Date of arrest: May 14, 2005
Date of birth: 1988
Victims profile: James Sapikowski, 52, and Alison Powell Sapikowski, 49 (his parents)
Method of murder: Shooting (.410-gauge shotgun)
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
Status: Sentenced to as many as 24 years in prison for the death of his father on January 30, 2008. Sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for the death of his mother on February 7, 2008.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Chapel Hill Teen Sentenced for Mom's Shooting Death

WRAL.com

Feb. 8, 2008

Adam Sapikowski pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder in the April 2005 shotgun slaying of his mother, and was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

The Chapel Hill teen already faces between 19 and 24 years in prison for his father's death. Friday's sentence of 247 to 306 months will be served at the end the previous sentence.

Investigators said the bodies of James Sapikowski, 52, and Alison Powell Sapikowski, 49, had been in their Chapel Hill home for weeks before police discovered them wrapped in blankets behind a barricaded door on May 13, 2005.

Both had been shot several times at close range with a .410-gauge shotgun, police said.

Sapikowski claimed he killed his parents in self-defense. His attorneys said James Sapikowski had threatened his son with a bat and that physical and emotional abuse had provoked the shootings.

The teen also claimed that an argument over a girlfriend and grades led to the murders.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Friday that a report card spattered with James Sapikowski's blood was found in the house.

The shotgun used in the slayings was found packed in a car in the garage, along with camping gear and other items that made it look like Adam Sapikowski intended to flee the area, Woodall said.

Sapikowski attended his junior prom after the slayings, neighbors told authorities that he hosted an after-prom party.

Woodall said the teen told anyone who asked about the strong odor in the house in subsequent days that some food had spoiled in the refrigerator.

Sapikowski's sister, half-brother and aunt read statements Friday before sentencing to express their grief over the two slayings.

"Since I've been deprived of my parents by Adam's actions, I define myself by one word: orphan," Lauren Sapikowski said. "There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not reminded of my being alone."

Chris Sapikowski choked back tears as he recalled his father playing basketball with him and his friends and teaching him life lessons along the way. He said he doesn't know how to explain to his young daughter why she never got to meet her grandfather.

"How could such a senseless act destroy two wonderful, giving and supportive people?" said Pamela Powell, Allison Sapikowski's sister. "We will be forever tormented by the cruel and senseless way that you left this world. There is a deep sadness that is beyond repair. We've lost a part of ourselves, and the pain is incredibly huge."

Adam Sapikowski rested his head on a table in the courtroom as he listened to his relatives. His attorney, Rosemary Godwin, rubbed his back to comfort him.

Last month, Sapikowski pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice and agreed to plead guilty to killing his parents. The plea was structured in parts so he would have a felony conviction on his record when he was sentenced for each killing, allowing Fox to impose a stiffer prison term, authorities said.

He has already spent nearly three years in jail.

 
 

Teen Gets Up to 24 Years in Dad's Shooting Death

WRAL.com

Feb. 1, 2008

A Chapel Hill teenager who admitted killing his parents after an argument over a girlfriend and grades was sentenced Friday to as many as 24 years in prison for the death of his father.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Carl Fox on Friday sentenced Adam Sapikowski after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the April 2005 death of James Sapikowski, 52.

The sentence ranges from 19 years and nine months to 24 years and six months.

A sentencing is scheduled Feb. 8 in the death of Sapikowski's mother, Alison Powell Sapikowski, 49.

In court last week, Sapikowski pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice and agreed to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. Fox gave the teen a suspended sentence and a $10,000 fine on the obstruction charge.

The plea was structured in multiple parts so Sapikowski would have a felony conviction on his record when being sentenced for the killings, allowing Fox to impose a stiffer prison term, authorities said.

Sapikowski has already spent nearly three years behind bars since he was arrested on first-degree murder charges in May 2005.

Investigators said his parents' bodies had been in their Chapel Hill home for weeks before police discovered them wrapped in blankets behind a barricaded door.

Both had been shot several times at close range with a .410-gauge shotgun, police said.

The teen claimed he killed his parents in self-defense. His attorneys said James Sapikowski had threatened his son with a bat and that physical and emotional abuse had provoked the shootings.

Sapikowski also told psychiatrists that he had been hearing voices since middle school and that he heard them frequently before the slayings. He also told psychiatrists that he thought often about hanging himself because his parents told him he was not working hard enough.

A hospital psychiatrist said in 2006 that the teen suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and has had flashbacks of killing his parents.

In court last week, Sapikoswki apologized for the slayings.

 
 

Teen Gets Plea Deal in Parents' Slayings

WRAL.com

Jan. 25, 2008

A Chapel Hill teenager on Friday agreed to a plea deal in the May 2005 shotgun slayings of his parents, whose bodies were hidden for weeks inside the family's upscale home.

Adam Sapikowski, 19, pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice and agreed to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of James Sapikowski, 52, and Allison Sapikowski, 49.

Superior Court Judge Carl Fox gave the teen a suspended sentence and a $10,000 fine on the obstruction charge and was expected to pass sentence on the two murder charges in the next two weeks.

The plea was structured in multiple parts so Sapikowski would have a felony conviction on his record when he is sentenced for the killings, allowing Fox to impose a stiffer prison term, authorities said. Sapikowski faces 40 to 50 years in prison for the two slayings.

Prosecutors said the Sapikowski family agreed to the plea deal. Adam Sapikowski's two older brothers were in the courtroom for the Friday afternoon hearing, and Chris Sapikowski shook his head as he listened to his brother's plea.

"I'm sorry," a shaken Sapikowski said softly as his attorney, Rosemary Godwin, rubbed his back.

His family issued a written statement Friday that said the plea deal brought some closure "to this horrific and painful chapter" for them.

"The pleas speak for themselves and provide some solace and a sense of safety to family members in that Adam will remain behind bars for many years for his crimes," the statement said. "The thought of a trial and the reopening of wounds that are still healing  was not inviting to any family member. It is time for this to come to an end."

James and Allison Sapikowski were found wrapped in blankets behind a barricaded door in the family's east Chapel Hill home on May, 13, 2005, and police said the bodies had been there for weeks before they were discovered. Both had been shot several times at close range with a .410-caliber shotgun, police said.

Adam Sapikowski attended his junior prom at Durham Academy the weekend his parents were killed, and neighbors said he had an after-prom party at the house, police said. He then checked into a Durham motel, where he stayed on and off for two weeks until out-of-state relatives asked police to check the Chapel Hill house and the bodies were discovered.

He had maintained that he killed his parents in self-defense and considered an insanity or diminished-capacity defense. His attorneys said James Sapikowski had threatened his son with a bat and that physical and emotional abuse had provoked the shootings.

Fox reviewed the teen's mental health history in court. Sapikowski has undergone several psychological evaluations since his arrest and has been housed in Umstead Hospital in Butner, a state mental health facility, for more than a year.

Sapikowski had told psychiatrists that he had heard voices since middle school and that he heard them frequently before the slayings, Fox said. He also told psychiatrists that he thought often about hanging himself because his parents told him he wasn't working hard enough.

The records also noted that one of the teen's friends referred to James Sapikowski as "psycho dad" because he frequently yelled at his son, the judge said.

A hospital psychiatrist said in 2006 that Sapikowski suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and has had flashbacks of killing his parents.

James Sapikowski owned an oil and gas exploration business and was well known as the coach of the club ice hockey team at the University of North Carolina.

 
 

Teen might claim insanity

Jessica Rocha - NewsObserver.com

Aug 04, 2006

HILLSBOROUGH -- Lawyers for Adam Sapikowski might argue that the Chapel Hill teen was insane and did not intend to kill his parents when he repeatedly shot them inside the family's home last year, according to court records filed this week.

Sapikowski, now 18, who faces two counts of first-degree murder, might also say he acted in self-defense.

He is accused of killing his parents, James Sapikowski, 52, and Alison Powell Sapikowski, 49, in April 2005.

In previous court appearances, Sapikowski's lawyers have alluded to abuse the teen might have endured, and a search warrant listed a baseball bat among the items seized from the family's home in the Oaks neighborhood.

"There will be evidence that Adam had previously been struck and threatened with a baseball bat," said Johnny Gaskins, Sapikowski's lawyer. "And there was an attempt to do it that day."

Lawyers also have alluded to Sapikowski's possible psychiatric problems. He has spent much of his time in custody at John Umstead Hospital in Butner after writing a letter last year saying he felt suicidal.

Now Gaskins has filed notice that his client might claim insanity, diminished capacity, automatism and mental infirmity as defenses. Automatism is a state like sleepwalking in which a person is not aware of his actions.

Gaskins declined to discuss what types of mental illness Sapikowski might have or what evidence he had to support such defenses.

Defense attorneys have given Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall records from their mental health experts, Gaskins said.

Woodall said he met with Sapikowski's attorneys in the past few weeks and was not surprised by the filings. "We discussed generally what the defense was going to be," he said.

Police think Sapikowski shot his parents April 28, 2005.

He pulled the trigger of a .410-gauge shotgun from just a few feet away, shooting pellets into his father's neck, cheek and forehead, and his mother's temple and shoulder, according to police and autopsy reports.

The bodies were discovered May 14, wrapped in bloodied blankets in the parents' first-floor master suite.

 
 

A year later, teen awaits trial

Adam Sapikowski's attorneys prepare for his October court date

Jessica Rocha - NewsObserver.com

May 13, 2006

CHAPEL HILL - One year ago this weekend, Adam Sapikowski's parents were found dead in their Chapel Hill home.

Sapikowski, the couple's youngest son, said he killed them, police said. They had been dead for two weeks.

The killings shattered the family's picture-perfect veneer -- Alison Powell Sapikowski, 49, and James Dennis Sapikowski, 52, were seen as powerful, successful, athletic and loving toward their children.

A year later, lawyers are preparing for Adam Sapikowski's trial. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

For now, the question of why a 16-year-old killed both his parents is still a mystery to most. Defense lawyers have said Sapikowski acted "under circumstances of extreme provocation," and the teen told police his father threatened him with a baseball bat right before he shot him, and had hit him with a bat before.

But in faxed statements to the media last November, Sapikowski's sister Lauren described loving and devoted parents: "Our parents tried very hard to make our lives happy and full. They loved us unconditionally and were openly and constantly proud of us," she wrote.

Many who knew the family wonder what happened.

"We still just really hurt for the boys and the daughter," said Anita Badrock, an executive recruiter who had found employees for the Sapikowskis' oil and natural gas exploration company, J5 Inc., which she said the family still runs.

For a year, the Sapikowskis' family, administrators at Durham Academy and others have declined requests for interviews.

Investigators, prosecutors and defense lawyers, worried about tainting a potential jury pool, have disclosed few details about the case.

Sapikowski pulled the trigger of a .410-gauge shotgun from just a few feet away from his victims -- shooting pellets into his father's neck, cheek and forehead and his mother's temple and shoulder, according to Chapel Hill police and autopsy reports.

Police think Sapikowski shot his parents April 28 -- before his high school prom and Mother's Day. Their decomposing bodies were discovered May 14.

In those weeks, police say, Sapikowski attended school and his prom.

At Durham Academy, a $16,000-a-year private school for those enrolled in its high school, lunch regularly included Thai food and sushi from local restaurants. Sapikowski played sports, and his parents agreed to pay a counselor $2,000 to help him find the right college.

The teen lived in his parents' 5,700-square-foot home, drove a 2004 Chevy Tahoe and had access to money that, according to civil court filings, included $48,000 in different accounts.

At some point after his parents' deaths, Sapikowski left the house and lodged at a hotel.

This year, Sapikowski should be a senior. But there's no prom or graduation ceremony.

Instead, he and his attorneys are preparing for a trial in October that will determine whether he'll spend the rest of his life in prison. Because Sapikowski was 16 at the time of the shootings, state law prohibits prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

Since September, he has resided in the adolescent ward of John Umstead Hospital in Butner, a former Army facility turned psychiatric hospital.

He was transferred there after writing a letter saying he felt suicidal. His family has cut off contact with him, leaving medical professionals and lawyers his sole visitors, said Johnny Gaskins, one of Sapikowski's attorneys.

On suicide watch, he is never more than a few feet from someone 24 hours a day.

However, Sapikowski's attending psychiatrist last year at Umstead said in an affidavit in November that he didn't think the teen was a threat to himself after being treated. "He has a bright and appropriate affect," wrote Dr. Olivier Goust, who recommended that Sapikowski be transferred to Central Prison for monitoring.

Sapikowski is one of the longer-term patients in the ward. He attends classes at the hospital school and is medicated, though Gaskins didn't name the drugs.

"They keep him pretty busy there," he said. "I think he's doing the things that you would normally expect for a 17-year-old in his situation to do, which is trying to get through every day."

 
 

Sapikowski claims shooting in response to bat threat

By Beth Belliquette - HeraldSun.com

Sep 14, 2005

HILLSBOROUGH -- Adam Sapikowski told investigators with the Chapel Hill Police Department that he shot his father as the elder Sapikowski threatened him with a baseball bat, according to an order filed Tuesday by Superior Court Judge Wade Barber.

"Adam also told police that his father had assaulted him with the bat on previous occasions and had also previously subjected him to other forms of physical and mental abuse," the order states.

Adam Sapikowski, 17, is charged with first-degree murder for shooting and killing his 52-year-old father, James, and his mother, Alison, 49, on April 28 or 29. Their deaths were not discovered until May 14, when police entered their upscale Chapel Hill home and found their bodies.

Adam Sapikowski, who attended Durham Academy before his arrest, has been held in the Orange County Jail without bond since he reportedly confessed to killing his parents.

On Wednesday, however, after he sent a note to his jailers earlier in the week saying he was suicidal and needed help, Barber signed an order transferring him to John Umstead Hospital in Butner for temporary custody, evaluation and treatment.

"He has some mental illness, and he is need of some treatment," said the teenager's attorney, Orange-Chatham Public Defender James Williams, following a hearing on where Sapikowski should be sent. "It's not just coping. He has an illness. He is under treatment and medication for that illness, and he is in need of further care."

Umstead is a state inpatient facility for diagnosing and treating people with psychiatric disorders with the intention of restoring them to an optimal level of functioning. If and when that happens, Adam Sapikowski then would be transferred back to the Orange County Jail to await trial.

A seized bat

When police searched the Sapikowski home on Whitley Drive near the Chapel Hill Country Club after discovering the bodies, one of the items they seized was an aluminum baseball bat. It's not clear whether that was the same bat James Sapikowski allegedly used to threaten his son.

Williams has also asked the judge to issue an order requesting that a psychological evaluation conducted on James Sapikowski in Colorado during his divorce from his first wife be sent to Barber so the judge can read it and decide whether the information is relevant to the case.

"The psychological evaluation could be relevant to understanding the parent-child relationship in this case as well as James Sapikowski's mental status," Barber wrote in his order responding to the motion. "The psychological evaluation is potentially material in this case and the defendant may need said report in order to properly prepare his defense."

Autopsy reports

The autopsy report of James Sapikowski said his body, wrapped in a blanket, was found in the master bedroom of his home at 29 Whitley Drive, where Adam Sapikowski also lived.

James Sapikowski had three shotgun wounds in his head and neck area from a .410 shotgun, the report said. All three had the potential to be rapidly fatal, according to the report.

Alison Sapikowski was shot twice, once in the shoulder and once in the head, according to the autopsy report. Her body was found in a bathroom. Only one of the wounds would have been rapidly fatal, the report said.

Other motions

The autopsy reports did not give the order of the wounds. Both bodies were in a moderate state of decomposition when found, according to the autopsies signed by Thomas B. Clark III, a pathologist at the Medical Examiner's office in Chapel Hill.

On Tuesday, Williams also filed a motion asking the state to reveal the theory under which Adam Sapikowski was charged with first-degree murder. The defendant is entitled to know the theory in order to prepare a defense, the motion states.

Sapikowski's next court date was set for Sept. 21, but it may be rescheduled if he is still at Umstead Hospital, Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said, adding that he hopes the case will come to trial next spring.

 
 

Accused teen went to prom

Police investigate the activities of Adam Sapikowski, charged with killing his parents

May 17, 2005

CHAPEL HILL -- The teen charged with killing his parents went to the Durham Academy prom the same weekend that police think he fatally shot his parents in their east Chapel Hill home, Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said Monday.

Adam James Spence Sapikowski, the 16-year-old Durham Academy junior charged in the slayings, was at the prom April 30, according to police. What he did after the dance and precisely when the slaying of James Sapikowski, 52, and Alison Powell Sapikowski, 49, occurred are subjects of a continuing police investigation.

"Everything we have indicated they were killed on the weekend beginning April 29 -- some time during the weekend," Jarvies said.

As investigators interviewed Durham Academy officials, students and others who might help them piece together a timeline, Adam Sapikowski made his first appearance in Orange County District Court.

Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner appointed James Williams, chief public defender for Orange and Chatham counties, to represent the teen, who has been charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder. A probable cause hearing was set for June 6.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit and bright orange flip-flops and shackled with chains, the teen made no statements to the court. After spending the weekend in a Morganton youth correctional facility, he was transferred to the Orange County jail, where he remained Monday, held without bail.

Family members in court would not speak with reporters. But tears welled up in many of their eyes as they watched from the fourth row Monday afternoon as the teenager was ushered in and out of the legal proceeding.

"I've met with the family, and of course, they are very upset," said James Woodall, district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties. "This is a tremendous tragedy for that family and for the community. ... This is a horrible situation."

James and Alison Sapikowski were found early Saturday in their home at 29 Whitley Drive in the upscale Oaks neighborhood on the eastern side of town. Police received calls the night before from a relative who had not heard from the couple in more than a week.

Through a series of phone calls and interviews, investigators found Adam Sapikowski at the Courtyard by Marriott at 1815 Front St. in Durham -- a hotel with a pool and breakfast bar about five miles from the Durham Academy high school campus.

Woochan Kim, the hotel general manager, said the registry showed the teen first checked in May 1 and stayed intermittently until police found him there early Saturday.

Officers and an older brother picked the youth up at the hotel.

"On the way back from Durham, Adam told officers that his parents left about a week ago and went to El Paso, Texas, and that they had not seen or heard from them since," Investigator Rodney Matthews of the Chapel Hill Police Department wrote in a search warrant application filed Saturday.

The warrant application provided details of how the gruesome discovery was made:

When the officers and the two Sapikowskis arrived at the Whitley Drive house, the teenager claimed he did not have a key to the house. An officer used a credit card to enter the home through a garage side door.

Officers looked around the house for the two adults and came across four chairs barricading a door and a towel stuffed underneath it. A stench coming from the barricaded room prompted the officers to call an investigator.

Matthews arrived, and according to the court papers, took digital photos of the scene and then moved the chairs and the towel and opened the unlocked door.

"The house did smell like decomposed bodies," he wrote. "Right in front of the door way was a body wrapped in blankets. The body was almost completely covered with the exception of a foot that was sticking out of the blankets. There was blood underneath the body and a shotgun shell was on the floor nearby."

He walked further into the room and saw blood droplets on the floor leading to the master bathroom.

"There, beside the bathtub, was a second body wrapped in blankets, with blood on the floor underneath the body," Matthews wrote in court papers. "A decomposed hand was sticking out of the blankets, and a second shotgun shell was found on the floor near the body."

Investigators seized a .410-gauge Harrington and Richardson shotgun from the house, a box of shells and four .410 casings, one from the kitchen, one from the breakfast nook, one from beside the father and one non-fired from beside the mother. They also collected blood-stained blue jeans, computer equipment, a credit card and an aluminum bat from an upstairs room.

"It does not appear the bat was used in the assault on the parents," Jarvies said. But he would not say why investigators seized it, whether the boy had been threatened with it or whether there might have been a chase through the house.

"All of those issues are [among] the several that we are still looking into," Jarvies said.

Meanwhile, neighbors and acquaintances sought clues of their own.

"It's kind of eerie to ride by that house and just know what has transpired," said Madeline Jefferson, a Whitley Drive resident who knew the couple from tennis games and other social encounters. For a while, they played weekly games of Bunco with several other women. But through the years, they grew apart.

"Alison was a person who was self-assured; she was smart," Jefferson said. "[James] had a very commanding personality. He was aggressive. He was strong-willed. He was a confident person.

"He was athletic, a big athletic guy. He was not a Southerner, he didn't have that Southern type of personality."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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