A railroad drifter who claims he murdered 16 fellow drifting riders faces a lifetime behind bars, but isn’t the least bit worried about it.
48-year-old Michael Elijah Adams, also known as ‘Crazy Mike’, says he’s proud of what he’s done and looks forward to “three hots and a cot” during his “retirement” in a Virginia jail cell.
The killer recently sat down for an interview with CBS 6 and spoke about how he first started riding trains as a teen and went on to become an “enforcer” for a rugged railroad gang, killing more than a dozen people in that time.
“I’m proud of what I did,” he said. He says he believes he was contributing to the greater good by killing the worst members of society. ‘I’m a necessary part of society.’
He says he came from an abusive family and left home at 14 to start riding trains.
It was on a train that he claims he met one of the founding members of the Freight Train Riders Association (FTRA) – a gang of hardcore drifters which is now mostly non-existent.
The unnamed mentor reportedly took him under his wing and helped him rise through the ranks of the gang until he eventually became an enforcer, often beating and/or killing those who interfered with the gang’s drug deals or disrespected their so-called code.
“We we were the big dogs. We stayed on the border. We were the violent ones. I mean guns, drugs and girls,” he claims.
He managed to elude authorities for nearly three decades before his life on the railway derailed.
“All good things must come to an end,” he said. “It started getting hot. Bodies started stacking up. Questions started getting asked.”
In May of 2011, he was arrested in Oregon after cops broke up a fight between drifters and found that he had an outstanding warrant out of California for the murder of 46-year-old fellow drifter John Semler Owens.
Owens’ body was found on a gravel road that runs through a rail yard in Roseville, California in January of 2000.
Six months after his arrest, he pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years-to-life in prison.
But it appears his time in California’s notoriously overcrowded prison system and wrought with competing gangs has made him desperate to escape after he confessed to the killing of a man in Richmond, Virginia, which got him transferred there last year.
It’s believed that that case would have gone unsolved if he hadn’t fessed to the killing of Robert Allen Chassereau, a homeless man who’d been found beaten to death in a railroad camp in June of 2006.
Prosecutors believe the murder was drug-related, but Adams says he just didn’t like the guy.
In addition to the murders in California and Virginia, he’s suspected in other mysterious deaths in Texas and Washington State, among others.
Since he’s eligible for parole in California in 15 years, Virginia authorities are looking to keep him in the state permanently so he can serve his full life sentence. They just need the governor of California to sign off on it.
Adams says he’s working on a book with an author and that a national magazine has taken an interest in publishing a story about him.