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Howard Hawk Willis murdered teenagers Adam and Samantha Chrismer: Evil Lives Here investigates

Mugshot of Howard Willis
Nobody knows the reason why Willis butchered two teenagers, Adam and Samantha Chrismer. Pic credit: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Evil Lives Here is in Johnson City, Tennessee, to investigate the particularly brutal murder of two teenage newlyweds from Georgia.

Adam Chrismer and his wife, Samantha, were 17 and 16, respectively, when Howard Hawk Willis ended their lives by shooting and dismembering their bodies.

In October 2002, a fisherman in Boone Lake, TN, came across a grisly discovery; floating in the water was the severed head and hands of Adam Chrismer.

A week later, on October 11, the decomposing bodies of Adam and Samantha Chrismer were located in a rented warehouse storage facility in Johnson City.

The state pathologist determined that both teenagers had had their hands tied behind their backs before being shot in their heads. Adam was shot in the face while Samatha was hit in the back of the head.

Howard Willis’s ex-wife Wilda Gadd agreed to wear a wire

The major break in the case came when Willis’s ex-wife Wilda Gadd agreed to work with investigators to bring down her former husband. She agreed to wear a wire while visiting him in Washington County jail, where he was already incarcerated.

Gadd asked him outright if he’d killed them, and Willis replied: “Adam and Samantha? Yeah, I blew their brains out. I just pulled the trigger right then and there on them.” When she’d asked him why, he responded by saying, “I don’t know Wilda, I just don’t know.”

In another taped conversation, Willis told Gadd where to find the chainsaw that he used to dismember Adam’s body. And on another occasion, he told her the spot where he was standing when he threw body parts into the lake.

The detectives concluded that Willis had killed the two teenagers at his mother’s home on Brentwood Drive in Johnson City on October 6. His mother, Betty Willis, was also charged with aiding and abetting her son, but she died before a conviction could be made. At his trial, Willis later tried to pin the murders on his mother.

The motive for the murder remains unclear, but the investigators learned that Willis knew the newlyweds from various drug deals.

In 2010, Willis was found guilty of murder, and the crime was considered serious enough to warrant the death penalty. He remains on death row today and is still fighting to get the decision overturned.

More from Evil Lives Here

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Evil Lives Here.

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John Meehan was a conman, a pathological liar, and an abuser of up to fifty women. When he attempted to target one of his ex-partners’ daughters, Terra Newell fought back and stabbed him to death in self-defense.

Evil Lives Here airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but is now based in the UK. He specializes in true crime and entertainment news stories. When... read more
Jerry Brown


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