Adam Longoria told Venture Corp. coworker Adam Rios that he was attracted to Alicia DeBolt but didn’t expect it would lead to anything because she was so young, Rios testified Friday. During the second day of testimony in Barton County District Court, jurors for Longoria’s capital murder trial also heard how a Venture employee discovered the burned body of the 14-year-old Great Bend girl on Aug. 24, 2010, and the about the investigation then launched by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
DeBolt, 14, disappeared the night of Aug. 21, 2010, and her charred remains were found three days later by Venture employee Joel Cross, at the company’s asphalt near Dundee, about six miles west of Great Bend. Longoria is charged with killing the Great Bend teenager after attempting to sexually molest her.
Cross was foreman at the asphalt plant on Aug. 21, 2010. Rios was asked to work that day but said he already had plans to take his family to the Sedgwick County Zoo. So Longoria took his place that morning, arriving late in a black Ford Escape and leaving within two hours because he said he had sick children.
Cross also worked at the Dundee plant on Aug. 24, 2010. Around 3:30 p.m., Cross was on a backhoe when he saw something he hadn’t noticed before. “It was what appeared to be a burnt mannequin at the time,” he said. He drew closer and saw flies, and realized he was looking at a body. “It just seemed very surreal at the time,” he said. The body “had no human-like features of any kind.”
Rios testified he was back at work on Aug. 24, at a different location than the Dundee asphalt plant. Longoria was working with him and complaining about women coming by his house and asking about Alicia, who was still missing at the time. “He said he met her at a party,” Rios testified, but added he’d realized nothing would come of it after he learned the girl was only 14 years old. He was 36.
But, Rios testified, “He said she had a really nice body and didn’t look like a 14-year-old girl.”
KBI Agent Cory Latham testified about the processing of the crime scene, identifying photos from the scene as well as some physical evidence: a black plastic screw-on lid found near the body; a piece of jewelry; a can of soil collected for sampling. He said he collected a piece of duct tape from a leg, as well as clothing from the upper and lower body that was falling off of the charred remains as they were collected for an autopsy.
On Aug. 25, the search would expand to the cemetery, where officers would find a red/orange jug or container on the ground.
Latham executed a search warrant at Longoria’s residence at 1801 Eighth Street the night of Aug. 26, 2010. He collected a pair of size 9 Nike Air Jordans with no laces from the master bedroom closet, because under a florescent light source used with special goggles, the shoes indicated the presence of bodily fluids. Longoria’s cell phone was also collected.
In her numerous conversations with law enforcement following the disappearance and death of Alicia DeBolt, Longoria’s girlfriend said she wasn’t always forthright. But, said Eva Brown, her testimony Friday afternoon was truthful.
“Do you know Adam Longoria?” asked prosecutor Kevin O’Connor with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office.
“Yes,” she answered meekly. She then pointed out the suit-and-tie-clad defendant sitting across the courtroom with his defense team.
Brown met Longoria via an Internet site, and in May 2010 she drove her dark-colored Ford Escape to Texas to pick him up and bring him to Great Bend. Once in town, she gave Longoria free use of the SUV, as well as her cellular telephone.
A couple months later DeBolt entered the picture. It was July 17 and “Adam Longoria had a birthday party for me,” Brown said.
It started in the afternoon with family and friends, but as the day faded to night, the crowd changed. A lot of younger people arrived and filled the backyard and garage.
This upset Brown. “They were underage,” she said.
Frustrated, she went to bed. The party continued until 3 or 4 in the morning. Brown knew when it broke up because she glanced at her cell phone when Longoria joined her.
“Hey, it’s Alicia,” was a text message that came to Brown’s phone at 4:30 a.m., July 18. Brown had no idea who this was and asked Longoria.
“He said it was a girl from the party,” who wanted to let him know she made it home OK,” Brown said. Longoria said DeBolt was 16 years old.
A few days later, Longoria got his own phone.
Testimony skipped ahead a month to that fateful day DeBolt died. Brown said Longoria drove the Escape to work at the Venture Corporation asphalt plant west of Great Bend near Dundee at about 7 a.m.
He then called Brown. “He wanted me to call (Venture) and say there was a family emergency. He didn’t want to work.”
She made the call. Longoria came home at about 10 a.m. and spent most the day in the garage with some people Brown did not know.
Brown said she did not ask about what was going on, but did make plans for her and Longoria to go out that night. They went to the Walnut Bowl for a couple hours where they bowled and drank beer. The tab came to about $40, which angered Brown.
Next, they went to The Rack and ate chicken-fried steaks. Longoria spent much of the time there texting, which also irked Brown. “This was our time.”
They got home at about 10:30 p.m. that Saturday and at 11, Brown said Longoria went to a friend named Ghetto’s house “to look at pictures.” He returned a short time later, possibly 15 minutes.
“He was all dirty,” she said, and he smelled of gasoline. “He said he’d been working on Ghetto’s car.”
He changed and put his dirty clothes in the washing machine, which seemed odd to Brown. He then left the house again.
At about 12:30 a.m., she texted Longoria, saying she was sick. He responded “Damn,” but then called and said he was on his way home. When he arrived, he took a shower, which was also strange.
The next day, when she went to pick up her two children from her brother’s house, the Escape smelled of gas and a can of air freshener was missing. Longoria got out of bed at about 10 a.m. and spent most of the day in the garage with some of the younger crowd that had attended the earlier birthday party.
That Sunday, Brown received a text message about the missing DeBolt along with a photo of her, noting she was 14, but a Facebook posting listed her as 16. Brown put two and two together and realized this was the girl from the July 18 text message.
When she confronted Longoria, he said he didn’t know who she was. At one point, he referred to her as a cousin.
Brown recalled stains on the clothes Longoria first went out in the night before, and that he had washed his white basketball shoes and bleached the laces.
On Monday, DeBolt’s sister and aunt came to Brown’s home and said her vehicle matched the description of the one in which DeBolt was last seen. She called her husband at work. “I wanted to know if he was involved, if he knew anything.”
He came home and denied any knowledge, and went back to work.
That Monday night, when Longoria came to pick Brown up from work at the Barton County Courthouse, he said that if anyone asks where he was the previous Saturday night, to tell them he was at the bar Willy J’s. Oddly enough, the police pulled them over on their way home and took Brown to the police department to question her.
An officer gave her a ride to her house. Longoria was not there, but arrived shortly.
He wanted her to dispose of the stained gray T-shirt from Saturday night, which he had ripped up, saying if she loved him, she would get rid of it. She went to get him a pack of cigarettes and threw the pieces out of the car window.
On the 24th, the day DeBolt’s body was found, Longoria contacted Brown several times from work asking if she’d heard any updates on the DeBolt case.
She admitted to telling various versions of her story in the past and lying for Longoria on some occasions.
Brown told authorities she and Longoria were not married. The relationship continued through January 2011 and at one point Brown said Longoria wanted to get married “so I wouldn’t have to testify against him.”
Also Friday afternoon
KBI Special Agent John Nachtman testified about the search of the ditch on the north side of U.S. 56 between the Dundee plant and Great Bend that he coordinated. Between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, law enforcement personnel found DeBolt’s cell phone, cell phone battery and battery cover, and decorative case, each in a separate location.
The phone’s hex number (or identification number) confirmed that it belonged to DeBolt.
But, under cross examination from defense attorney Jeff Wicks of the Death Penalty Defense Unit, Nachtman said he had no idea when the phone was put in the ditch, nor how it got there or who put it there.
Aaron Gillespie, records custodian for NexTech Wireless, told how the company, like all cell phone providers, tracks all wireless communications for billing purposes and in case the information is subpoenaed, as it was in the Longoria case. This includes what tower, and which side of a tower, a transmission hits.
“It knows where that handset is,” Gillespie said. The tower sides, called sectors, cover pie-shaped areas that overlap, creating a full circle of coverage. The range is about 10 miles, under ideal conditions.
At the time of DeBolt’s disappearance, NexTech had eight towers in Barton County. Gillespie said that, using this information, a rough location of a caller can be determined since a phone normally will find the nearest tower and sector.
However, a phone has to be turned on and the battery intact for it to communicate with a tower.
But, under cross examination by Wicks, Gillespie said it wasn’t an exact science. Just because two callers were utilizing the same tower sector, they could be 10-13 miles apart.