Jenny and James Adam were supposed to be in Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden’s courtroom Tuesday, Nov. 30, for a divorce hearing.
But on Sunday, Nov. 28, both were found dead by Dawson County Sheriff’s Office deputies at a home on Sams Road in Dawson County after a report of gunshots. The Sheriff’s Office has classified the case as an apparent murder-suicide.
“At this point, it does appear that James was the primary aggressor,” Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson wrote in an email Nov. 30. He did not respond to requests for updates Dec. 1.
The scheduled divorce hearing was related to an accusation that James Adam “may have misappropriated funds from his clients,” according to a motion filed by Jenny Adam and her attorney, J. Alexis Putt. Text messages provided in court documents show heated exchanges over their assets and include reference to suicidal thoughts.
Jenny Adam, a 50-year-old former nurse living in Dawson County, and James Adam, a 62-year-old attorney in Gainesville, had married on Valentine’s Day 2014, according to court records. They had separated earlier this year, and Putt said Jenny Adam was living at the Sams Road residence.
Jenny Adam initiated divorce proceedings in April. James Adam wrote in his counterclaim for divorce that the couple had been separated since March.
In a motion filed Nov. 2, Putt also wrote Jenny Adam had reason to believe James Adam may be “using his status and undisclosed accounts to shield marital assets.”
Putt attached an exchange of text messages in a subsequent court filing that she described as “his willingness to engage in a campaign to harass and intimidate (Jenny Adam) including actions that would put his bar license at risk and send him to prison.”
The motion also claimed that James Adam showed he would destroy the couple financially “in order to prevent an equitable distribution of the assets.”
James Adam wrote a message to Jenny Adam saying he was “prepared to surrender my license” before he would ever consider paying what he called Jenny’s “extorted demand,” according to the motion’s exhibits.
“What f-ing reason would I have to give in to your demand?” James Adam wrote later on in the same message. “I’d rather spend the rest of my life in prison. What I meant last night was that I had seriously contemplated suicide. But your insane demand made me realize that you would get what you wanted — everything. So I’ve decided to stay and fight. I have a reason to live now so thank you.”
James Adam’s attorney, G. Hammond Law III, did not return multiple calls for comment Wednesday, Dec. 1.
In an obituary, Jenny Adam was described as a registered nurse for more than 25 years who loved “the lake, music and dancing.”
Matt Paff, a friend of Jenny Adam, described her as a “vivacious, beautiful” woman who lit up the lives of those she encountered.
Paff noted Jenny, who had retired from nursing and moved into flipping houses, had a love of antiques.
“She loved taking something that somebody had put on the end of the driveway to throw away and she loved recognizing the beauty in old, trashy things and then renovating it,” Paff said. “And she did a great job. When she flipped a house, it was amazing.”
Gainesville attorney Graham McKinnon said he had known James Adam for more than 30 years and they used to play tennis together.
"He'd tease me and I'd tease him about stuff that happened in the courtroom," McKinnon said.
McKinnon described James Adam as a motorcycle enthusiast.
Jody Powell, who also knew James Adam for more than 30 years and also played tennis with him, said the news came as a “shock” to him.
“I just never would have imagined he would do something like that,” Powell said.
This article was originally published by the Gainesville Times, a sister publication to Dawson County News.