A video interview between Jonathon Adamson and Lewis County Detective Sgt. Kevin Engelbertson recently made available for public disclosure requests depicts Adamson providing a play-by-play account of the night he and his brother, Benito Marquez, have admitted to killing Randle teen Benjamin Eastman III.
Adamson, 22, and Marquez, 17, have both pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and a slew of other felony offenses. Both have yet to be sentenced.
Adamson, seen in his red Lewis County Jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled, maintains a cool demeanor throughout the video interview — answering Engelbertson’s questions matter-of-factly near the site off Cispus Road where the brothers say they killed Eastman and initially hid his body, though they later returned to move it.
The video shows the two standing on a forest road, surrounded by thick brush and trees, with Adamson pointing out the specific location of the assault and where the body was hidden.
It is inferred during the interview that Adamson and Marquez planned their attack on Eastman based on the belief that the teen had wronged a female subject known to them.
According to court documents and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Eastman was reported missing on June 27, 2018. The teen reportedly lived with his father in Randle, but hadn’t been seen since June 23, 2018.
Deputies began investigating and obtained Eastman’s cellphone records, revealing contact with Marquez in the early morning hours of June 24, 2018.
“In the exchange of texts between the two, Eastman indicated he would be traveling to Marquez’s home,” according to court documents.
Deputies interviewed Marquez on June 28, 2018, at which time the teen told deputies he planned to meet with Eastman, but that Eastman never showed up.
Meanwhile, “Citizens and family located an area which showed signs of having … freshly disturbed soil with a cross made out of sticks,” court documents read.
Deputies were initially told the grave, on property belonging to relatives of the suspects, was for a dog. However, when a detective shifted some of the soil, he uncovered a human foot, later determined to belong to Eastman.
Deputies obtained a search warrant and exhumed the body, wrapped in plastic and twine, according to court documents.
The sheriff’s office notified media that investigators were looking for Adamson and Marquez after finding the body. They were arrested in Ellensburg.
The video interview was recorded June 30, 2018, and occurred after previous interviews with Marquez and Adamson had taken place.
Adamson, while answering a series of questions from Engelbertson, said the two had told Eastman they were planning on camping in a remote area off Cispus Road, when really they had planned to confront him. It was around 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning, he said.
“I didn’t know when we were going to do it. We started walking into the brush and we were probably about 6, 7 feet into the brush and Benny confronted him right there,” said Adamson, referring to Marquez as Benny throughout the interview.
Marquez struck Eastman, knocking him to the ground.
“He goes down onto the ground and then Benny hits him a couple more times, I hit him once or twice and then he crawls out here (onto the road) and then I hit him a couple more times and Benny continues to kick him repeatedly,” said Adamson.
“Now, when you say repeatedly, you estimated —“ Engelbertson begins to ask before Adamson cuts him off.
“Probably about 20 to 35 minutes of kicking,” said Adamson.
Adamson’s estimate was consistent with a report from the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.
“OK, and while he’s crawling out (of the brush), is Benny or you kicking him as he’s going?”
“No, we kind of let him crawl out.”
“Is he saying anything while he’s doing that?”
“No. He’s like, moaning — screaming more than moaning.”
Adamson said that in the midst of the beating, he raped Eastman using a stick he found on the road.
“I did that when he was still alive. And, I guess in a sick, demented way I was trying to teach him a lesson. And this was before I thought that he was, you know, gonna die,” he said.
After Eastman appeared to have died, Marquez retrieved a shovel from the car and started to dig a hole just off the road. The shovel was in the car, Adamson said, because of a recent camping trip that they had been on. They didn’t bring it with them in anticipation of digging a grave, he told Engelbertson.
“I told Benny that, you know, that it’s went too far, and we can’t, you know, we can’t go home and tell people now what we’ve done. So, take the shovel in the back of my car and start digging a hole,” he said.
Adamson drug the body to the approximately 3-foot deep grave, and he and Marquez together put him down into the earth. Marquez took a large rock about 10-inches in diameter that he had found while digging and struck Eastman on the head with it.
Adamson said that when they returned to their mother’s residence, Marquez told her what had happened. At some point, Adamson said he had burned clothing belonging to the brothers and to Eastman.
That same day, Adamson and Marquez went back to where the body was buried and moved it to a wooded area near a relative’s home. Adamson said they told their mother, Kindra Adamson, about moving him, and she was upset that other family members were dragged into the situation.
Adamson said he also told his fiancée, Emma Brown, about the death, but said he didn’t go into any specific detail.
Kindra Adamson and Brown were both later arrested and charged with two counts each of first-degree rendering criminal assistance. They have since pleaded guilty. Neither have been sentenced. Authorities say that during interviews, the two purposely misled detectives.
Engelbertson asked Adamson how he found out the body had been found.
“I didn’t even know that the body was found, Benny had told me that the detectives were there and that it seemed like they were closing in and that he was really afraid and that we were going to get arrested,” said Adamson.
The two were arrested in Ellensburg by the Washington State Patrol.
More than a year after the interview was recorded, both would plead guilty to the death and two more individuals would be arrested — Michael Salazar, 17, and his mother Amanda Hagerty, 42. Salazar was accused of knowing that the two had planned to attack Eastman, and prevented another teen from reporting their plan to a third party. Hagerty, Salazar’s mother, was accused of helping them come up with a false story to tell detectives and tipping them off that the body had been found, prompting their attempted escape from the area.
Adamson’s plea agreement includes an agreed-upon sentence of 510 months, or 42 and a half years to life in prison.
Marquez’s plea agreement will allow him to withdraw his guilty pleas to all but the first-degree murder charge and be sentenced on that charge alone if he meets conditions set by the prosecutor’s office, including providing a statement and passing a polygraph test.
He agreed to a sentence of 413 months, or more than 34 years in prison.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said Adamson and Marquez will likely not be sentenced until the other cases were resolved.