HOLMBERG: Train-jumping killer arrives back in Richmond

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

RICHMOND, Va. -- We’re told In the wild, wooly world of rail-riding, there are always murderous hoboes lurking in the boxcars and camps. It’s a frightening image as old as the scruffy old ‘bo toting his belongings on a stick slung over his shoulder.

But it looks like it may be true in the case of a rail-rider known as “Crazy Mike,” who allegedly struck here at least once in 2006 before drifting off to commit other murders – he reportedly claims a dozen – from sea to shining sea.

“Crazy Mike” - 39-year-old Michael Elijah Adams – arrived back in Richmond Wednesday by plane (not rail) from California to reportedly plead guilty to an heretofore unsolved murder in a notorious hobo camp that claimed two victims four years apart.

The camp: A sprawling wooded plot off Westwood Trail and CSX Road below the 195 Expressway near Tomlynn Street and the busy ACCA train-switching yard.

On June 5, 2006, Henrico Police responded to the camp after a homeless man found a body in a ravine there. “It appeared he a had probably been here for a week or so,” said Henrico police cold case Detective Thomas Holsinger as we reviewed the case at the camp, which has since been cleaned up. (Although another one exists nearby.)

The victim was 47-year-old Robert “Bobby” Chassereau of Richmond. His older brother told me Bobby had been the lone drifter in a

strong military family with roots here in the Richmond area. He had drifted around since he dropped out of school at an early age. He wound up in Alaska, where he worked on a crab boat and a family helped him find a clean life, Joseph Chassereau said. But Bobby apparently got lost again when he came back to Richmond and fell in with his old crew.

Investigators talked with the other hoboes and drifters in the area. But they couldn’t come up with a suspect. There was a plywood sign there, however, that said, “Crazy Mike was here” and had a tag of a semi-circular section of track, Holsinger recalled.

The case grew cold.

Holsinger said they thought there might be a connection when another rail rider, Robert Dyck – known as “Yard Sale” – was found beaten to death in the very same camp in November of 2010. But his murder was pinned on two other drifters known as “Satan” and “Roofless,” who plead guilty in that case, but innocence in Bobby’s.

The real break came when Michael Elijah Adams was convicted for another rail-camp killing in California. He told investigators he was a freight rider enforcer. Henrico detectives traveled to California and interviewed Adams, who confessed to the killing of Chassereau, Holsinger said. He’s also wanted for the murder of a homeless woman in El Paso, Texas. Holsinger said they are talking with other Richmond-area detectives about similar murders over the past decade or so.

It appears Adams was living in the Fan area back in 2006 and was selling drugs at the rail camp, Holsinger said.

“Crazy Mike,” who has that semi-circular depiction of rail track tattooed on the side of his face, may not be all-that crazy. He’s been asking to come to Virginia, likely because he’ll avoid the death penalty with his deal here. He might not be so lucky in Texas.