Eight years later: the mysterious death of Adam Campbell

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ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) — 26-year-old Adam Campbell was an outgoing, likable guy.

“He’s always there for other people, you know, always giving his friends support. So he was a good guy,” says Adam’s mother, Carolyn Hilling.

Adam Campbell
Courtesy Carolyn Hilling

Adam’s best friend from childhood, Ashley Groleau agrees, “He’s a great guy, gives the shirt off his back to anybody and make anybody feel comfortable and wanted. Adam was never really an enemy.”

So it came as a huge shock to Adam’s friends and family when he was found dead after a night out at the bars in downtown Escanaba.

“He got a phone call from a female and she asked him to meet her at the bar,” explains Ashley. “It was an unknown number.”

Ashley says that Adam loved to dress up and go out with friends. He had just recently moved back to Escanaba after living in Marquette for a few years. But the unidentified female never showed up to the bar so, after having some drinks with friends, Adam left.

Adam Campbell
Courtesy Carolyn Hilling

“He had left Barron’s Bar and, it was somebody that had actually seen him leave and was walking westbound,” says Captain Darin Hunter of the Escanaba Department of Public Safety. “That was the last that anybody, that I’m aware of at this point, had any type of interaction with Adam.”

At approximately 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, 2011, the Escanaba Department of Public Safety central dispatch received a call of a burning vehicle near a residence. Firefighters quickly arrived on the scene.

“After the extinguishment of the fire, opening the vehicle they did discover a body inside which was later identified as Adam Campbell,” says Captain Hunter.

Adam did not have a driver’s license or a car so his friend, Ashley Groleau, says that Adam would not have been driving. Captain Hunter says they do know who the car belonged to but he was not able to go into any more detail.

Due to the ongoing investigation, the authorities are not able to release the exact means of Adam’s death.

After identifying Adam’s body, the police had the difficult job of notifying the family. Carolyn Hilling, Adam’s mother, was at work at the time.

“I collapsed at work basically, when they came to me and told me it was my son,” she recalls.

Adam and his son.
Courtesy Ashley Groleau

Adam left behind a young son and countless friends and family.

“Adam was a father to a little boy that he’ll never, ever watch grow up. A little boy who will never have his dad…You took away a brother to a shining star, he’s an amazing athlete and his brother is never going to get to sit on the sidelines and watch that happen,” says Ashley. “My baby boy is named after Adam, he’s never going to meet his namesake because he’s gone.”

One year after Adam’s death, his father committed suicide.

“He no longer could handle the backlash and the thoughts…it’s really hard to acknowledge both of them not being here,” says Ashley.

For Ashley, she says there is still a lot of regret surrounding Adam’s last night.

“I got a phone call from Adam…I didn’t answer my phone. I decided that it was too late and I was too tired. So I have a lot of wonder if it could have been him trying to get out of that situation. The girl never showed and he wouldn’t have continued the night out if he could have gotten ahold of somebody,” she explains. “I hold myself personally accountable for it often, even though I know I shouldn’t.”

Though the police are not releasing many details about the case, Captain Hunter says they still get information and tips regularly, as recently as last week. But Captain Hunter says they are still looking for that final piece of the story in order to move forward with the case.

“We were able to piece together Adam’s whole day except for that last hour, that critical hour,” explains Captain Hunter. “Unfortunately, those are some of the pieces of the puzzle that we’re still trying to find. We do have evidence that is going to help with the case but we need that other piece of the puzzle to link the evidence to help solve the case.”

Adam Campbell
Courtesy Ashley Groleau

Eight years after Adam’s death, his family and friends are desperate for answers.

“Adam is forever gone and somebody deserves to pay. We deserve the justice,” says Ashley.

“If you really do know something, come forward,” says Carolyn. “I mean, if it was your child, wouldn’t you want the truth?”

Captain Hunter says anyone with information is implored to get in contact with the Escanaba Department of Public Safety, even if the information is old or has already been turned over to police.

“I’d much rather have somebody thinking that they’re bothering me for two minutes or five minutes, thinking that it doesn’t mean anything, until I get that phone call or message and I see it and I’m like,’That I didn’t know and that is what I need’,” says Captain Hunter.

Courtesy Escanaba Department of Public Safety

If you have any information regarding the Adam Campbell case, contact the Escanaba Department of Public Safety by phone at (906)786-5911 or send a private message to their Facebook page by clicking here.

You can find the Justice for Adam Campbell Facebook page here. The page is regularly monitored by friends of Adam.

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