Defendant takes stand in murder trial
However, during a subsequent walk-through of Adelman’s property, on East Rock Creek Road in rural Sheridan, the 41-year-old defendant told the detectives he had struck the elderly Tigard man five to seven times with a piece of wood.
He went on to show detectives, in a video demonstration, how he dragged Adelman’s body by the ankles out of a manufactured home and left him nude in a barn, one of several out-buildings on the property.
After the state rested Friday, on the fourth day of a bench trial being heard by Yamhill County Circuit Judge John Collins, defense attorney Carol Fredrick called Wolfgang to the stand. His testimony began in the late morning and continued for about 3 1/2 hours in the afternoon.
Kim Aldrich, a county wastewater inspector, and Marcus Stock, a Stuck Electric employee, had been scheduled to meet Adelman at the property April 17, but were greeted by Wolfgang instead.
Aldrich said Wolfgang told her Adelman had been called away to deal with a family emergency. She asked him to have Adelman call her when he returned, but never heard back.
Cox said Wolfgang told him Adelman couldn’t make it because he wasn’t feeling well. He asked him to have Adelman reschedule, but had no further contact.
Wolfgang confirmed the accounts. He testified he had relayed the information to Adelman, who told him he had handled the encounters appropriately.
Soon afterward, Wolfgang told Collins, who is hearing the case without a jury, three adult males drove up. He said two of them were dressed in suits and one was about Adelman’s age.
“I was told to leave, that they had private business,” he said. “I left.”
Wolfgang said he walked down East Rock Creek Road to Rock Creek Road, and the vehicle the men arrived in passed him at some point in time. He described it as a “prototype” with tinted windows.
At that point, he returned to the property.
“I went to the house and he wasn’t there,” Wolfgang said. “I went to the warehouse — another out-building — and he wasn’t there.
“I assumed he left with those men. That’s the last time I saw Walter.”
He said he drove Adelman’s Subaru Forester to Fred Meyer and New Seasons Market in Portland on April 17. That was confirmed by surveillance video and testimony by employees of the businesses.
Upon returning, he said he set about performing chores.
The following day, deputy Michael Samerdyke of the sheriff’s office arrived to conduct a welfare check requested by Adelman’s daughter, Melissa. He was soon joined by deputy Justin Schwartz.
Schwartz went to a barn, then began running straight for him, Wolfgang said. He said the deputy kicked his feet apart, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of Samerdyke’s patrol car.
Wolfgang was later transported to the sheriff’s office for questioning. He was subsequently charged with murder in connection with Adelman’s death.
He began his testimony by explaining how he had frequently moved about.
He said he was born in Redding, Calif., but moved to Anderson, then Paradise, before leaving home at age 16. He has been estranged from his family most of his life.
He said he had lived at various times in Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y., in communities in Maine and New Hampshire, and it Halifax, Nova Scotia. He said he had also resided at times in Lincoln City, Portland and Vancouver, Wash., earning money by taking restaurant and beauty salon jobs and selling woodworking items.
Wolfgang and Adleman met early in 2012 through a Craigslist ad. Adelman was looking for a caretaker and handyman, and Wolfgang responded. Wolfgang moved onto the Sheridan property March 8, 2012, according to testimony.