Wednesday, November 08, 2000

Siblings slain 25 years apart

Trial may resolve one case

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — As Shirley Simpson stared at her murdered daughter's coffin at Brown-Dawson Funeral Home last year, she had a flashback to 25 years earlier.

        “When I saw her laying there, I saw Clayton laying there, too,”said Mrs. Simpson, whose children were murdered a quarter-century apart. “They both had to be laid out with their heads at the right end of the coffin because of the way they were injured — and those were the only two funerals where I saw a person laid out that way.”

        In September, Hamilton police arrested a man in the 1999 slaying of Mrs. Simpson's only daughter, Tammy Esther McClellan. The suspect, Randy Young, is set for trial in December — and Mrs. Simpson plans to attend.

        But the Fairfield Township shooting death of Mrs. Simpson's son, Clayton Adams, has remained a mystery since 1974.

        For a time, loved ones worried that Ms. McClellan's murder would remain unsolved, too.

        “I can't imagine what it's like to be Shirley and have two kids murdered,” said family friend Donna Olson, 36. “If someone is sick or dies in a car accident, that's hard enough. But when they're murdered, taken away, it's devastating — and I think that's an understatement.”

        Mrs. Simpson holds hope that her son's killer might be brought to justice someday. She thinks one death might have indirectly contributed to the other.

        Tammy and Clayton “idolized each other. They were closer than any two human beings I have ever met — and after he was killed, she was never the same,” Mrs. Simpson said. “Emotionally, she couldn't accept that he was gone ... and I think she got into drugs mostly because it was her way of dealing with her pain over Clayton.”

        Ms. McClellan, a 36-year-old mother of two, died from the combined effects of a physical attack and cocaine use, the Butler County coroner ruled.

        Mr. Adams, 21, was found shot to death in a ditch along Morris Road, off Princeton Road, on Nov. 23, 1974, when his sister was 12. “After that, she got mad at everybody,” Mrs. Simpson said. “She got to the point where she wouldn't go to school.“

        The two would watch cartoons together; Tammy would ride on Clayton's shoulders to go get an ice cream cone, Mrs. Simpson recalled. A tomboy, Tammy would play baseball and football with her brothers — especially Clayton. Both were outgoing, kind-hearted and loved animals. “Snakes, birds, chickens, cats, a rabbit, a raccoon — anything that was hurt, they'd bring it home, him and Tammy both,” Mrs. Simpson said.

        Years later, Ms. McClellan still was telling others how much her brother meant to her.

        “I know he always babysat her when they were growing up, and she worshipped the ground he walked on,” said Ms. Olson, who had been close with Ms. McClellan the past five years. “He was a guitar player, had his own band and would sit her up on the stage with him. She thought that was great.”

        Mrs. Simpson said she and her daughter discussed the unsolved homicide about two months before Ms. McClellan was slain.

        “She told me, "I don't think they're ever going to find out who did that, Mama.'” Mrs. Simpson said. “I told her what I tell myself: That even if they don't find who killed him, that person will pay on Judgment Day. That's not enough, but it is something.”

        Mr. Adams' slaying and all other homicides are considered open and active until they're solved, Butler County Sheriff's Maj. Anthony Dwyer said Friday. He said there has been little progress.

        “Cases like that are very difficult because things were done very differently years ago,” he said. Investigative procedures, evidence collection and technology have changed, Maj. Dwyer pointed out. This case is further complicated because several different police agencies helped investigate it.

        “Hopefully, someday we'll get the break we need to get (Mr. Adams' slaying) solved,” Maj. Dwyer said.

        Ms. McClellan's grave — without a headstone because she had no insurance — sits at the foot of her brother's in Greenwood Cemetery.

        “I don't really go there too often. I like to remember them as they were,” Mrs. Simpson said. “I say to myself, well, at least they're together again.”
       Anyone with information on Mr. Adams' slaying is asked to call Lt. Greg Blankenship at 887-3031.


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