Man admits to cocaine-related dragging death

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A man who dragged a man with his car, killing him, after a cocaine deal-gone-bad nearly a year and a half ago has admitted to the ordeal.

Adam C. Rice, 27, pleaded guilty in Allen Superior Court early Friday to a single felony charge of failure to stop after an accident resulting in injury or death, related to the dragging death of 29-year-old Jacob E. Beck in a hit-and-run on Tonkel Road near Leo Crossing on Jan. 20, 2015. His plea agreement is a capped plea not to exceed two years executed, and calls for the suspension of his license for up to one year.

Adam C. Rice
Adam C. Rice

Police and medics were called just before 3 a.m. that January morning by a passing motorist who noticed Beck’s body in the middle of Tonkel Road where it intersects with Oak Valley Place. He was pronounced dead at the scene, his shoes missing and feet injured as if he’d been drug rather than hit.

Investigators, with no help from witnesses, struggled to unfold the scene and even determine how he died. While the Allen County Coroner’s Office said quickly that Beck died of blunt force trauma, it took until June before the office ruled his death a homicide.

It took another half-year to gather enough evidence to charge the man they believe killed him.

While investigating in January, police said they’d learned Beck worked at the Lucky Moose bar along Dupont Road, and he’d gone to Dupont Bar and Grill after his shift was over that night, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Allen Superior Court. A bartender at that bar told investigators she’d served Beck two beers and two shots before cutting him off “for acting strange,” the affidavit said.

The bartender said she had a bar bouncer wait with Beck outside the bar while he waited for a ride home, the affidavit said. She also said Rice was in the bar at the time and saw him talk to Beck at one point.

The bartender then told police that she then went outside the bar to recover a cardboard cutout that Beck had taken from the bar. When she got outside, she saw Rice sitting in a car near the front door and Beck and the bouncer along the sidewalk, the affidavit said.

The bouncer, in January, told police he waited in the parking lot with Beck, and also saw Rice in the car.

A month later, in February, that bouncer told police a bit more.

The bouncer said he “saw the whole thing go down,” and told police then that he set up for Rice to buy cocaine from Beck that night, the affidavit said. The bouncer said he stood with Beck while he waited for his supplier, and when another car arrived, Beck got cocaine from its driver and took it to Rice’s car.

Jacob Beck
Jacob Beck

The bouncer said “as soon as the victim’s hands went into the driver’s window, the Defendant took off out of the parking lot with the victim hanging off the side of the car,” the affidavit said. The other car took off behind it, the bouncer added.

The bouncer told police he also collected Beck’s shoe, which had fallen off as he was drug away, and put it in the back of Beck’s truck, the affidavit said.

Police then searched Beck’s phone records and called in his alleged supplier, the last person he called and texted, the affidavit said. He told police he brought 2.5 grams of cocaine to Beck at the bar that night for him to sell.

He then told police he watched as Beck passed the cocaine inside the vehicle and it pulled away, “spinning the tires and he never let off the gas, fishtailing out of the parking lot with the victim hanging from the side of the car,” according to the affidavit.

After he said to the bouncer, “What the happened?” the supplier said he drove off behind the car to find Beck in the roadway. He told police he did a U-turn around his body and saw him lifeless, so he “left the area,” according to the affidavit.

Fast-forward to Oct. 5, then, when Rice was arrested for domestic violence against his girlfriend. As police spoke with her about that incident, she volunteered more information, telling the investigator, “I have to tell you something! I have to tell you something! Adam killed a guy! It was Jacob Beck back in January. It was on Oak Valley Rd. It has caused us problems ever since,” according to the affidavit.

After a moment, that officer went back in to ask the woman more about that accusation, but her “demeanor had changed” and she said she didn’t know anything about the incident and she didn’t mean to wrongfully accuse Adam of knowing anything.” The woman told police she was scared because Rice is “so violent,” the affidavit said.

The woman told police only that she knew Rice was drinking at Dupont Bar and Grill that night and she knew that Beck drank there, too, the affidavit said.

That led to Rice’s ultimate arrest.

In court Friday, Rice admitted to “knowingly and intentionally” leaving the scene of Beck’s death. Allen Superior Judge John Surbeck then asked Rice to explain the circumstances, and he explained, “It was late at night … He was hanging on my window and fell off.”

Rice will be sentenced June 13.

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