After nearly 16 years, man admits to killing of missing Sabula native in Pennsylvania

SABULA, Iowa (KWQC) - Nearly 16 years after Sabula native Adam Brundage was reported missing, a man has confessed to his killing.

Brundage, a 26-year-old father of two, grew up in Sabula and attended East Central Community High School in Miles.

Betty Brundage, his grandmother who raised him, says he moved to Pennsylvania to be with his father and family after he graduated.

In Oct. of 2004 he was reported missing to authorities in Pennsylvania. After leads ran dry, investigators closed the case.

In April 2019, Bucks County Detectives, working with the Quakertown Borough Police Department, reopened the investigation.

Investigators brought evidence against Brundage's then-roommate, Daman Smoot earlier this month, which is when a criminal complaint says Smoot confessed to beating Brundage with a baseball bat and then suffocating him. Smoot told investigators the murder happened on the evening hours of Oct. 4.

According to the criminal complaint, Smoot agreed to give up the location of Brundage's remains to investigators.

"Smoot was taken to the Haines and Kibblehouse Quarry, Hilltown Township site. Smoot pointed out the location where he said he buried Brundage after having murdered him," according to the criminal complaint.

Brundage's remains were recovered on Jan. 16, 2020.

Smoot was already incarcerated at the time of his confession in relation to a separate assault case, the Bucks County District Attorney's Office tells TV6.

A criminal complaint shows Smoot would enter a guilty plea to third-degree murder, and in exchange, the Bucks County District Attorney's Office will recommend a sentence of 20 to 40 years.

Brundage and Smoot were roommates, which the DA's Office says was for a matter of only a few weeks before Brundage's murder.

Betty Brundage said she called her grandson a few weeks before he was reported missing.

"He said they just don't want to leave and I said, you want grandma to come out and get them out of there? He said you know, I know you could do it grandma. And that was the last time I talked to him," she said.

Betty told TV6 her grandson always called her on his birthday on Oct. 13, after he received his card with money in it. When she didn't hear back, the concern set in.

"So then finally I called out there and someone answered his phone. I said who is this? He said well who is this? I said this is Adam Brundage's grandmother. What are you doing with his phone? He hung up. I said something's not right here," said Betty.

The criminal complaint states Smoot made claims Brundage was out of state when questioned by relatives and investigators.

Betty said at that time officers reached out to her, and she told them if Brundage had returned to Iowa he would be with her.

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub held a press conference Monday, where he explained the details of Smoot's confession and motive, also outlined in the criminal complaint.

"He wanted the things Adam had.... Adam had access to, so he killed him," said Weintraub.

Betty said, "I never really I don't think it ever really left my mind... I often... and I always prayed when I went to mass, I always prayed someday they're gonna find out what happened to him and, you know, it was getting to the point where we kind of didn't think it was going to happen."

Betty told TV6, “I can remember sitting and rocking him. I got his baby book out the other day and looked at it.”

She said she remembers the fond memories of Brundage playing with neighbors, riding bikes, and having fun at the park – all within view of her window – at a home overlooking the calm waters in Sabula.

“So those things I’ll treasure,” said Betty.

Grateful for the sad discovery that now provides a sense of closure, Betty tells TV6, “he was well-loved you know. He knew we loved him.”