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Prentice Helpers

Prentice Helpers

Adam on top of the water

Top Water

Before starting, I want to share this picture of Adam swimming "on top of the world." He was an expert swimmer and loved the water. At the time this picture was taken, Adam was a senior in high school. He had perfected the Butterfly Stroke, and even set a new record for his swim team during the race pictured here.

Adam was also an expert guitarist. He wrote his own music and lyrics. The name of his band was "Top Water." To enlarge the view of Adam swimming "on top of the water," please click the Top Water link below his picture. To read about Top Water's demo CD recording, click this link!

The individuals profiled on this page volunteered their time, talent, patience, and help to assist me in unraveling the truth about what happened to Adam. These courageous individuals approached me offering their assistance and services at a time when I would have been lost without them. I will forever be grateful to these men and women; on behalf of my family and Adam, thank you. We will never forget what you have done for us.

Ginny Guimond

Ginny Guimond is the mother of Meg, one of Adam's dearest friends. Meg is a lovely young lady and probably Adam's first love as a young man. They dated in high school; he was a junior and she a sophomore. She broke up with him shortly after they started dating, but they remained loyal friends throughout the years, and they had spent most of the summer of 1997 together. One night they went out in her car. At 12:30, she brought him home. They sat talking in the driveway for about 20 minutes, then Meg's car drove off. To my dismay, Adam never came in. As this was the period before everyone had cell phones, I had no way of calling them to ensure that everything was o.k. The car pulled back into the driveway at about 2 a.m. I had not been able to go back to sleep, but I didn't question Adam about it until the next day because he was 20 at the time and about to begin his junior year at UMass. The next day, I asked where they'd went, and he said that they had just come from driving around Provincetown (about an hour down-Cape) and they were having such a good conversation that they decided to drive to Woodshole and back (the exact opposite end of the Cape). I asked him what they could have possibly found so interesting to talk about, and he looked me in the eye as he said, "Mum, Meg and I talk about anything and everything. She's my soulmate. There is just nothing I can't say to her that she doesn't understand."

I know Adam genuinely loved her, and I often wonder what might have become of their relationship. After Adam died, Ginny sent me a beautiful sympathy card. She wrote to me about her fondness for Adam; about how important he had been to Meg when she was hospitalized periodically for a serious liver condition. Adam was one of the few friends who always visited her and kept in touch with her. One year, he spent New Year's Eve at her hospital bedside waiting patiently for her to wake up. Ginny found him there when she went to visit. After his death, Ginny kept in touch with me by calling, e-mailing, and visiting with me almost daily. This woman had never met me prior to Adam's death, and now she was one of the most important people in my life. At a time when close friends and relatives were too far away or too busy to visit me, this total stranger found the time to nurture me back to a state of being where I could function again. You see, those first few months after Adam died, I was in physical recovery. As I've said before, losing a child traumatically in the middle of the night is like being hit by a truck. It is a slow, painful recuperation. There is no physical recovery; if you are strong enough you must learn to walk and talk again, but in a different world — the world that exists without your child.

For months, Ginny brought me home-made breads and soups. She fed my family and never asked for financial reimbursement. At the time, I was like a child. It never occured to me how much she helped my family until months — even years — after Adam's death. Ginny also taught me how to e-mail and use the internet. She brought me to the site of my first internet provider and helped me to complete the paperwork necessary to open an account. I had forgotten how to use my credit card. She also drove me because I was on so much medication that I had problems driving. I never remembered where I was, and would become frightened to the point of anxiety attacks when I couldn't find my way back. Additionally, once we realized that the university was not being forthright, Ginny completed much of the legwork in the beginning stages of our investigation. As I grew stronger, Ginny's role in my return to sanity slowly faded. However, to this day eight years later, she has always encouraged me, and I know I can call her at any time to help with Adam's investigation.

Why did this total stranger spend so much of that first year helping me? First, Ginny is a caregiver. It is her nature to help those in need who are in her path. Second, I believe she was hand-picked by God to help me. There are no words to described the depth of her help. I can truly say that, if she hadn't been there to lean on, confide in, and ask for help, I don't know that I would have returned to life at all. This is why I believe God chose her. He knew that she would stay the duration of my dependency, and she did.

Ginny, from my heart, thank you.

Attorney Jane Davis

I first met Attorney Davis about twenty years ago, shortly after Adam was born, when she prepared my will. Jane was detailed, professional, and punctual, completing everything exactly as she said she would, within the time frame specified. She was also sensitive and courteous regarding my special situation as a young, single mother, and I have always relied on her for whatever legal matter I've needed ever since. When Adam died, Jane was a member of the gym I worked at. From the beginning, the circumstances surrounding his death seemed odd to her and, shortly after the funeral when others began pressing me to demand a better explanation from the campus police, she encouraged me to do the same. I met with her to review the inconsistencies the police had given me, and she asked me to develop a list of unanswered questions for her to present to the District Attorney's office overseeing western Massachusetts. She edited the list down to the most important issues and re-worded my list to read more objectively. She contacted their office and was told that Assistant DA J. Michael Goggins would review our concerns. He assured her that the UMPD detectives in charge of Adam's case were among the "best investigators" in the area, and he felt that they were handling the case appropriately. When Jane questioned him about specifics, such as their failure to preserve forensic evidence at the scene, and their negligence in cleaning the scene immediately upon finding it he admitted that, in hindsight, perhaps they shouldn't have, but "What is done, is done."

To this day, I hear "What is done, is done" over and over again. I wonder if "what's done, is done," would have rolled so easily from his lips if Adam had been one of his three children and he had been looking for answers as to why the death scene had been stripped and cleansed within forty-five minutes. I must be really stupid, because I truly believed that their mishandling and negligence was in itself a crime punishable at the very least by job termination. It wasn't. Nothing happened to the officers who ordered the hasty cleanup. Nothing happened to anyone who mishandled Adam that night. Nothing happened to the first responders who allowed him to rip out his life-source; nothing happened to the higher ranked paramedic for driving the ambulance while the lower-ranked EMT watched Adam slowly die without doing anything about it, and nothing happened to the doctor at Cooley Dickinson hospital who accepted Adam as a patient, then left him in an emergency room while he continued to bleed to death, only to have him positioned upright to take an X-ray, driving the impaled shard of glass deeper, and then had him transported to another hospital after he went inot a cardiac arrest without stabilizing him or prepping him for emergency surgery.

Attorney Davis spent that first year meeting with me weekly to offer moral support while she prepared legal documents and reports that we hoped would help to remove the investigation from the UMPD. It is difficult to investigate yourself and, as long as Adam's case remained under the jurisdiction of UMass, I knew that I would never see justice for him. Jane accompanied me to Amherst to meet with DA Goggins and UMPD personnel. She sought and received the assistance of John Klimm, at the time a State Representative. She filed Freedome of Information Acts and appeals on my behalf when I was denied access to documents that where legally mine. She wrote letters to school administrators, interviewed detectives, and confronted the UMPD with their inconsistencies. She comforted me and encouraged me to keep fighting for Adam during the darkest of days. Jane is more than an excellent lawyer, she is a compassionate, loving human being.

Without a doubt, God put her in my path because I wouldn't have survived that first year without her. However, Jane prefers to run her practice alone. She has a legal assistant her helps her part time, but she does not have any partners. Consequently, I knew that, if I chose to pursue the wrongful death lawsuit on Adam's behalf, I would need to find a firm with the resources necessary to take on the case. As Jane worked alone, she simply did not have the time to devote the the case without virtually giving up the rest of her practice!

After seeking alternative counsel, I have continued to update Jane whenever there is news about the case, and I will forever seek her help in all other legal matters for as long as she practices law. Jane, I don't think you will ever know how much your relentless pursuit of justice for Adam truly means to me. I wouldn't have had the stamina to fight for him that first year without you, and I thank my gracious, loving God for bringing us together.

Peter Robbins

I first met Peter Robbins in March of 1998. I had just published my petition in the Cape Cod Times, my local daily newspaper, whereby I not only asked for signatures to take the investigation out of the hands of the UMPD, but I also begged for information regarding Adam's death and for help with the investigation overall. Peter's daughter saw the petition, and asked her father to help us. Aria had graduated from Barnstable High School (BHS) with Adam in 1995. Quiet and soft-spoken, Aria exuded characteristics identical to Adam's. As a matter of fact, after reading Adam's biography, Peter described his daughter as being the female version of Adam. Peter has an extensive background in criminology, and was at the time a private detective. Aria new that her Dad's experience and determined personality would be an asset to the case, and she was right. After reviewing the police and medical reports, Peter determined that he could help best by going to Amherst with me for several days to familiarize himself with the crime scene and interview the students with Adam the night he died. After talking with those willing to spend time with him, Peter wasn't convinced that their stories added up. Each student wh knew Adam expressed a willingness to help and a belief that Adam probably had been victimized. One of the students who Peter had suspected wasn't forthright in his statements refused to talk to him further. He also refused to respond to several e-mails I sent him with questions regarding his last memories of Adam that night. This may or may not have been a case of innocent jitters.

During this time, a male student taking classes at UMass e-mailed me that he had met a disheveled man on the commuter bus a few weeks after Adam's death who began talking to him about it. He confessed that he had been there when Adam fell through the roof, but had been too cowardly to help him, and ran away instead. The student described this man as being Caucasian, and unkempt with shaggy, shoulder-length hair. He was rather thin; perhaps around 5'8" in height. He commented that the man appeared to be an older, nontraditional student, perhaps late twenties or early thirties. The student wrote me that he never went to the police because he assumed they were on top of the case. However, after reading my pleas for information in the local Amherst newspapers, he realized that the police were not cooperative, and he contacted me directly. Peter interviewed this student, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from law enforcement in the area. He confirmed on video what he had wrote about in our e-mail correspondence. Unfortunately, he had met this man within the first few weeks after Adam's death on a commuter bus from Northampton to Amherst, and he never saw him after that week.

After Amherst, Peter continued to stay in touch with me for at least a year. He interviewed another man who had e-mailed me information about Adam and went to the Massachusetts Crime Lab to photograph Adam's clothing from the night of his death. He also photographed pictures I had taken of Adam during his last birthday a month before his death so I would always have multiple copies to remember him by. Why was Peter sent to me at the same time that Ginny Guimond was slowly returning to her own life? I know that I serve a great God who holds the understanding to every mystery. I know that His way is perfect, and that He truly does have a reason for allowing everything, whether good or evil. I know that one day He will share His reasoning with me. And I know that, back in March of 1998, Peter Robbins was sent to me not just to help track down information by tying loose ends in Amherst together, but because he was a strong, positive role model representative of law enforcement, which I had stopped trusting and believing in. He also grounded me by bringing me back to reality when I grasped at the unrealistic in looking for answers.

Peter, I can never thank you enough for your role. Like Ginny, I know that you were a gift from God, and may He watch over all my helpers and their families throughout life.

Barry Wallace

About a year after Adam's death, I received an e-mail from Barry Wallace. Barry had found and read Adam's Web site, which at the time was only two files, the petition, and a plea from me for help with the investigation or information about what happened. Barry is a retired FBI agent who lives in Southeastern Massachusetts. Since retiring, he had worked as a private investigator, and he volunteered to meet with me to review Adam's case. Adam's "case" lived in my dining room. The table was covered with papers and bins of papers. Larger bins were on the diningroom floor. Everyone marvelled that I could actually find things because it didn't appear that any filing system or method of organization existed, but I knew where every piece of information was, though it often took me awhile to find it. I would wander from stack to bin and back again, then miraculously pull the buried document I was looking for from one of the piles. I had no idea what would become pertinent to the investigation and what would not.

Barry's first thoughts were to organize my files. He culled what he knew to be essential from an investigator's point of view from my stacks and compiled them in the order of a timeline. He also took my autopsy photographs and scanned them on disks for me so I wouldn't have to work with them. Where it had been over a year since Adam's death, Barry believed that my files should also be organized in a manner presentable to legal expertise. As new information was slow and hard to confirmed, he thought that I should begin the search for a law firm that would take the case as a wrongful death suit. He believed that the power of supboena was my best hope for seeking justice and truth for Adam. From my massive piles of documents Barry organized a simple, accordian-type folder and personally drove me to interview a law firm he believed would be perfect for the case. I really liked the lawyer he introduced me to, and things looked promising. Unfortunately, after reviewing the case for several months, they declined to represent me due to a conflict of interest. Regardless, Barry continued to encourage me as I looked for other firms. Several interviewed the case; three were interested in handling it. The firm I chose is in Boston, MA. After they accepted the case, Barry has remained in contact with me ever since. I update him whenever new information materializes and know that I can count on him for support counsel in areas relating to his investigative background.

Why did Barry enter my life at the precise moment I needed someone with his background? Once again, I believe that he was sent to my by God. He reached out to me at a time when I needed exactly what he volunteered to do. Shortly after I met Barry, he called me to say that his best friend from childhood had known Adam well. He swam at the YMCA where Adam worked, and told Barry what a great kid Adam was. Additionally, his best friend's wife was a deaconess at my church and, even though we had never met, she had been assigned by my pastor to work with me after Adam's death. She had never known anyone who had lost a child before and she tried to persuade him to use someone else but he had wanted her and insisted. Neither Barry, who does not live on Cape Cod, or myself had any idea we would have this family in common prior to his initial contact! Barry isn't just an investigator, he is a kind, compassionate, intuitive investigator! If for any reason you find yourself in a situation where you need a caring individual with Barry's expertise, please contact him here!

Barry, your help and encouragement over the years has meant so much to me. You believed in what I was doing and understood why it was so important to me to seek justice for Adam. I will never be able to thank you enough for your kindness and support.

Valerie Lynch

Valerie Lynch and Adam went to school together and had been friends since elementary school. After high school graduation, Val attended UMass full time. At the time of Adam's death, Val was actually studying abroad in Spain. She sent her parents to Adam's funeral on her behalf, and mailed me a beautiful card with photographs of a makeshift memorial she had built at the beach in Spain. I knew immediately that this was a special person. Upon her return to UMass, Val was unsettled by the negative publicity Adam's death had received; partially because of the mishandling of the UMPD, coupled with sloppy media coverage by journalists who never bothered to look beyond UMPD speculations. In November of 1998, she called from school to tell me that she wanted to write a play about the inconsistencies surrounding Adam's death for her honors project in her drama class. Called "What Happened to Adam Prentice," the play debuted in May 1999 with a cast consisting of the lead playing me, three "shadows" who represented the inconsistencies of each step of the investigation by voicing them throughout, several of Adam's friends, and his sister Abbi. The cast was tremendous and the play was well-received. It depicted my constant search for credible answers. The more my character investigated, the deeper the inconsistencies became.

As Val prepared for the play, she was often questioned about what she was doing, and on several occasions she was bullied; even warned, that she should watch her step. This was disconcerting to her family and mine and, though frightening for Val, she never wavered from finishing her project. The play sparked interest in Adam's case. Judy Hooper, an Amherst writer profiled earlier, started her own investigation while writing a magazine article about Adam, and the play did generate new information but, unfortunately nothing concrete that led to the who, when, where, and why of September 27, 1997. Val had hoped that the play would resolve many of the issues unanswered. Instead, it renewed an interest in the case around campus and established credibility regarding our quest. To this day, I remain in touch with Val. Val, you are an unsung hero and I wish you all the happiness in the world!

Myra Kodner

The first time I turned on the TV a few weeks after Adam's death, the Geraldo Show had just started. Amazingly, he was profiling college crime and coverup. After watching the show glued to the couch, I immediately called Connie Clery, the contact person listed during the show. I reached her at Security on Campus, Inc. (SOC), a watch-dog nonprofit agency that monitors campus crime nation-wide. We talked in depth about Adam's mysterious death. To my amazement, she had already heard about it and was preparing to review the circumstances further.

During the months that followed, I was frequently in touch with SOC. At the time, Myra Kodner was the office assistant. Part of her responsibilities included forwarding information to SOC's client base. For two years, she tirelessly listened to my anguish and angry rants whenever I called with a new development in Adam's case. She painstakingly researched my latest complaint, and always called, e-mailed, or faxed me information and contact names with expertise regarding my newest issue. She was an expert resource who never tired of my despair. She always listened attentively, encouraging me in any legitimate endeavor while politely discouraging me when my attitude was poor or my approach was off-track. Myra was so intuitive that I frequently chided her about becoming a detective. She was a true asset to SOC at a time when I couldn't have hoped for better!

Dean Wideman

During the winter of 1999, Myra Kodner called to inform me about a new contact named Dean Wideman who had approached SOC voluntarily to ask if he might help with any suspicious cases the agency knew of. At the time, Dean worked for the City of New York as a forensic scientist. He was also in the process of starting Crime Analytica, his own nonprofit business. Crime Analytica was established to assist grieving families who had experienced the loss of a loved one under suspicious, unresolved circumstances by reviewing case files and/or offering expert witness testimony in court.

Dean was also trained as a profiler, and volunteered to review the crime scenes of suspicious cases SOC had permission to refer him to so he could recommend options that might still be used to collect physical evidence from these contaminated scenes. At his own expense, Dean drove to Amherst from New York during his vacation and spent two days reviewing photographs and reports with Valerie and I at Judy Hooper's house. He went to the greenhouse, surveyed the alleged point of entry and exit, then returned to New York with his notes. Months later, he forwarded me a seven page report containing suggestions and comments about what could still be done, as well as what should have been done initially. It has always been my hope that I could eventually gather enough unresolved information to sway the medical examiner to change Adam's cause of death from accidental to undetermined. I continue to keep in touch with Dean, and I am so thankful that he is willing to share his expertise to help bereaved families to find the truth and justice their loved ones so richly deserve.

Dan Linehan

Ginny Guimond met Dan Linehan when she purchased a puppy from him a few weeks after Adam's death. During the transaction, the discovered that Dan was a private detective, and she shared Adam's death with him. Dan's area of expertise was in PI work involving fraud, but he had children of his own and was upset by Ginny's conversation. He told her that she could give me his telephone number if I wanted to share my concerns about the lack of the UMPD investigation with him. For the next few months, Dan became my pro bono telephone consultant. He always encouraged me to follow my intuition. He used to tell me that, though it would never hold up in a court of law, a mother's intuition was usually 99.99 percent correct, and that I should follow it whenever it foreshadowed what I was being told. Dan never technically acted as a PI regarding Adam's case, but he did advise me on many matters, he attended several meetings with me to offer expertise, and he acted as a contact liaison between the media and me so I could be spared the stress and tension of having to defend my dead son. Dan, it has been so long since I have talked to you, but I will never forget you. Thank you so much for being there those first months.

Myra Kodner

Myra Kodner was employed by Security on Campus, Inc., the only watch-dog agency in the country to educate prospective students and parents about the safety of our colleges and universities. At the time of Adam's death and for the first several years following, Myra was an office assistant at SOC , and the first person most inquirers talked to when they contacted the agency. For my family, Myra was so much more than an office assistant. She spent hours on the telephone with me instructing me how to navigate a system I'd had no idea ever existed. She researched security questions and issues for me that I was simply to sensitive and naive to research on my own. From her large database of resources, she forwarded me countless documents and contacts who had expressed a willingness to help, or whom she believed had the skills and ability to help if willing. When I was depressed, guilt-ridden, or obsessed with an issue not really relevant to Adam's case, she would patiently walk me through the pros and cons of the situation until I could see it more objectively.

Dean Wideman

One of Myra's contacts was a young man who had approached SOC hoping to acquire experience as a volunteer by assisting families devastated by crime such as mine. His educational and professional background was in criminal profiling and forensic science. In addition, he was in the process of establishing a nonprofit agency designed to assist families by investigating suspicious deaths or unsolved murders. He had heard about SOC, and saw how crimes on colleges campuses were being overlooked. He believed that this would be a good opportunity for him to gain experience helping families.

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