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A nearly two-decade-old cold case was closed this week after the former roommate of a Pennsylvania man admitted to killing the father of two before burying his body in a quarry.
Adam Brundage, 26, was first reported missing in 2004 and his case went unsolved for 16 years before reaching a resolution on Tuesday when Damon Smoot, 36, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in his death, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub compared Smoot's actions to the plot of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" – with authorities saying Smoot envied Brundage's house and car and wanted to take them for himself.
"Damon Smoot was jealous of Adam Brundage, who had come into a small, but sizable inheritance and in his jealousy, he wanted to become him. He wanted the things that Adam had access to so he killed him," Weintraub told reporters on Tuesday.
Although Smoot was not charged in Brundage's death until this month, officials had long suspected him of playing a role in Brundage's disappearance, local radio station KYW Newsradio reported.
Smoot's attorney Keith Williams said Smoot wanted to “unburden his soul and confess to the murder.”
“He did so openly and honestly, in a way that I haven’t seen in my long career of criminal defense,” Williams said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Smoot admitted to police he beat Brundage with a baseball bat on Oct. 4, 2004 as the two argued at a quarry, according to The Inquirer. Smoot told police he "caved" in Brundage's skull during the beating, then held his hand over the man's mouth until he stopped breathing. He buried Brundage's body deep in an area of the quarry where he worked as a heavy equipment operator.
After killing Brundage, Smoot then essentially attempted to assume Brundage's life – taking up residence in the man's home and ownership of his car while attempting to play it off as a gift from Brundage. Smoot offered a number of different and oft-contradictory excuses to explain Brundage's absence, from claiming Brundage was receiving treatment for cancer to claiming he was attempting to avoid paying child support for his two children.
This led many family members and friends to suspect Smoot had killed Brundage. Likewise, police first began investigating Brundage's disappearance after his ex-girlfriend reported him missing, telling authorities they had two children together and it was uncharacteristic for him not to be in contact despite Brundage having reclusive tendencies, NBC Philadelphia reported.
“I knew all along it was him,” Donna Brundage, Adam's mother, said Tuesday of Smoot, according to The Inqurier. “He was living in his house, driving his car, and telling me my son gave him everything.”
“I said, 'Show me proof,' and he never could,” she added. “It was just a matter of time before the DA and everyone put the pieces together to bring Adam back to us.”
As part of his confession, Smoot led investigators to Brundage's body. "It has to be a bittersweet feeling, but I think they can now know Adam will be resting in peace," Weintraub said, according to KYW, noting investigators wouldn't have found Brundage's body without Smoot's cooperation.
Smoot faces a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison following his guilty plea. He is currently serving a prison sentence for an assault charge and did not respond to reporters Tuesday.
“Another family has now been given answers about their loved one. … Another killer has been brought to justice,” Weintraub said, according to The Inqurier.
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