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JoAnna Cottle: Mom and three children MURDERED by ex-boyfriend after judge denied protective order

Jonah Adams, 35, became the prime suspect after they learned that Cottle, 39, had filed for a protective order against him, but was denied by a judge
UPDATED NOV 28, 2022
Jonah Adams, 35, was arrested on November 18 (Chesterfield Police)
Jonah Adams, 35, was arrested on November 18 (Chesterfield Police)

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VIRGINIA: A mother and her three children were murdered by her former lover who was also the father of two of her children, authorities revealed.

JoAnna Cottle dialed 911 at about 4 am Friday morning, November 18, to report a "possible intruder" at her home in the 4200 block of Laurel Oak Road, but by the time officers responded to the address, she and her children were dead. A dispatcher reportedly heard the gunshots during the 911 call. Police subsequently tracked down Jonah Adams, Cottle's former boyfriend, near his home in Waldorf, Maryland, and arrested him. Chesterfield County Police Lt. Col. Chris Hensley said Adams became the prime suspect after they learned that Cottle, 39, had filed for a protective order against him, but was denied by a judge.


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Hensley said Cottle called 911 after spotting someone outside her home wearing a camouflage mask early Friday morning. “She remained on the line with us as the intruder made entry,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “There was gunfire and then silence. But our officers were on the way and immediately made entry. The suspect obviously was not there. But of course, they found the four victims, all deceased.” Aside from Cottle, officers found 13-year-old Kaelyn Parson and four-year-old twins Kinsey and Jayson Cottle dead from gunshot wounds. Police confirmed that Adams was the father of the twins.


Hensley said a direct motive was not immediately clear but noted that "there were hints of a turbulent relationship" between the co-parents, citing interviews with family and friends. "There was a previous protective order [involving the former couple] — not in effect now — that we identified," Hensley told the Times-Dispatch, adding that there was conflict over their two children, but he wasn't sure if it was "a custody dispute or a disagreement."

Adams, 35, was apprehended on four first-degree murder warrants by agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Virginia. “We were able to put him in the area around 4 am right before the murders, and like I said, when we look at these, and you don’t have a lot to go on, you’re going to look at who does this person know, who are their relationships with and then we push from there on an investigative standpoint,” Hensley said.

Speaking to WTVR, Cottle's sister remembered how the tragic 39-year-old had a "huge heart and loved [her children] and our family." 

Speaking anonymously, she said her sister and Adams parted ways before the babies were born. "After their birth, there was a period where they were trying to work things out, but reconciliation never came to fruition," Cottle's sister said. "Really the only connection they had left was a small amount of child support that would come out of Adams' check." Meanwhile, the three children were remembered by their aunt as "amazing" and "smart." "They were amazing kids. Smart — I mean Kaelyn, if you talk to anyone at her school, they'd tell you she was. They all loved her," she added.

Adams is facing four counts of first-degree murder and is currently being held without bond at the Charles County Jail in Maryland ahead of an extradition hearing, WTVR reported.