Maryland man charged with killing 3 children, ex-girlfriend in Chester

A Maryland man was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with a fatal quadruple shooting in Chester that left his former girlfriend and three children dead. The suspect is the father of the two youngest victims, both 4 years old.

Chesterfield County Police say Jonah L. Adams, 35, was apprehended by officers from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives near his residence in Waldorf, N.D. Maryland, around 2 p.m. – just nine hours after the murders.

“They were able to set up a lookout on him and catch him coming back,” Lt. Col. Chris Hensley said. Adams remains in custody in Maryland.

Chesterfield County Police are seen at the site of a possible homicide with multiple victims in a neighborhood near Hopkins Road in Chester, Va., Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. EVA RUSSO/TIMES-DISPATCH

Eva Russo

Waldorf is in Charles County southeast of Washington, D.C.

At the time of his capture, Chesterfield detectives obtained warrants charging Adams with four counts of first-degree murder in the murders of 39-year-old JoAnna M. Cottle; Kaelyn M. Parson, 13; Kinsey M. Cottle, 4; and Jayson L. Cottle, 4.

Police say Adams was previously in a relationship with JoAnna Cottle and is the father of twins Kinsey and Jayson.

No direct motive was provided for the shootings.

But Hensley said “there were hints of a turbulent relationship” between Cottle and Adams that friends and family members described in interviews with detectives.

Chesterfield County Police are seen at the site of a possible homicide with multiple victims in a neighborhood near Hopkins Road in Chester, Va., Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. EVA RUSSO/TIMES-DISPATCH

Eva Russo

“There was a previous protective order [involving the former couple] — not in effect now — that we have identified,” Hensley said. It was not immediately clear whether the protective order had been filed in Chesterfield or elsewhere.

Hensely said there also appeared to be conflict over the 4-year-old twins Adams fathered with Cottle. “I don’t know if it was a custody dispute or a disagreement,” he said.

Hensley said Cottle called police just before 5 a.m. Friday to report an intruder was outside his home in the 4200 block of Laurel Oak Road.

“She stayed on the line with us when the intruder came in,” he said. “There were gunshots, then silence. But our agents were on their way and immediately entered. The suspect was obviously not there. But of course they found the four victims, all dead.”

JoAnn Cottle and her three children were fatally shot on Friday, November 18, 2022, inside their home in the 4200 block of Laurel Oak Road in Chester. Pictured above are Cottle’s three children, left to right: Kinsey M. Cottle, 4; Kaelyn M. Parson, 13; and Jayson L. Cottle, 4. Kinsey and Jayson were twins.

Family photo

“Investigatively, we immediately started looking at the family history, and that’s where we immediately recognized Jonah L. Adams as a potential suspect,” Hensley said.

Using an investigative technique that Hensley declined to describe, police were able to place Adams in the area around 4 a.m., he said.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends who will come to terms with these senseless killings today,” Hensley said.

Chesterfield County Police are seen at the site of a possible homicide with multiple victims in a neighborhood near Hopkins Road in Chester, Va., Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. EVA RUSSO/TIMES-DISPATCH

Eva Russo

The murders shocked neighbors, friends and family of the victims.

Latisha Jones, who grew up and attended school with JoAnna Cottle, drove to the workplace as soon as she heard police were investigating a multiple homicide in the Cottle neighborhood.

She was in tears when she learned that the Cottle house was the focus of the investigation.

“I grew up with her,” Jones said of JoAnna Cottle. “Elementary, middle school, high school and beyond.”

Jones said she hadn’t seen Cottle in about a year, but remained close to her family and children.

Jones said she was aware of some domestic issues involving Cottle and an ex-boyfriend, but “I didn’t think it would end like this.”

A pastor who lives in the neighborhood tried to comfort Jones as they both watched police process the crime scene at Cottle’s home.

“They were a wonderful family,” said the pastor, who declined to be named for fear of endangering his family’s safety. The suspect had not yet been apprehended when he spoke.

“We will miss them,” he said. “I knew them here [in the neighborhood]. I’ve been here almost 30 years, so I’ve known them for a long time. They are good neighbours.”

Reached later on Friday, a sister of Cottle’s who declined to be identified said the family had no immediate comment on the tragedy.

“At the moment we don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to jeopardize an investigation,” the sister said. “So no one will say anything. For now, it’s a private matter. It hurt a lot of people.”

A Hanover County teenager was sentenced to a year in prison on Thursday for supplying a pill containing deadly fentanyl to a 16-year-old woman…

Friday’s incident was the worst mass shooting in Chesterfield in more than eight years, when Barry “Chris” Jernigan, 35, shot and killed his wife, 2-year-old son and 9-year-old stepdaughter before turning against himself. Father’s Day 2014. The carnage occurred inside Matoaca’s family home in the 5700 block of Fox Maple Terrace.

About 12 hours before the murders, Jernigan’s wife wished her husband a Happy Father’s Day in a Facebook post with this message: “You are the best dad our children could ask for. Thank you for loving these children more than yourself.

Three years later, on the evening of Thanksgiving Day in 2017, Christopher R. Gattis, then 58, a former youth ministry director, shot and killed his wife, daughter-in-law and boyfriend at the family home in the 14000 block of Dogwood Ridge. Chester Court. He pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and was sentenced to an active prison term of 58 years.

Top 5 weekend events: InLight Richmond, “Christmas on the Rocks” and The Lone Bellow


Friday and Saturday

Maybe you got your first red card on Bryan Park’s many football fields. Or you’ve argued with a stranger about why you refuse to call “disc golf” by the name “Frolf”. Either way, Bryan Park is the backdrop for events as impactful as Gabriel’s Rebellion and as personal as birdwatching with our best friends. The 1708 Gallery’s 15th annual InLight highlights a series of events, as artists showcase works and projects inspired by the park’s rich history and themes. Organized by Tiffany Barber and Wesley Taylor. Trucks of food, beer, cider and wine will be on site. 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. 4308 Hermitage Road. (Use the Bellevue entrance or park at 4202 Hermitage Road and take the TukTuk shuttles to the site.) Free admission; pay as you go.



Until December 18

Charlie Brown, Clara, Tiny Tim and other familiar party characters walk into a bar – all adults, thirsty for a drink or two and ready to share a story with the bartender. That’s the intriguing premise behind the LOL-worthy parody of the Richmond Triangle Players. You know who won’t be there? John McClane. Because “Die Hard” is NOT a Christmas movie. Directed by Axle Burtness. Hours vary. 1300 Altamont Avenue From $10. (804) 346-8113 or

Richmond Triangle Players



The Nashville, TN-based folk-pop trio bring infectious three-part harmonies and a knack for putting on live shows at The National. Credits include “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Late Show with David Letterman.” All ages. 8 p.m. 708 E. Broad St. $25. (804) 612-1900 or



Looking for that elusive Mr. Mime card to complete your Pokemon set? Are you looking for the right author-mentor to help you compose your “Sailor Moon” fan-fiction? Or do you just have a homemade Iron Man costume that you want to show off like you’re on the runway at New York Fashion Week? Come mingle at Richmond Raceway, where you can easily make your fantasy come true – and maybe even win a few bucks in one of the costume contests. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 600 E. Laburnum Ave. $12.

2014, JOE MAHONEY/times-dispatch


Friday-Dec. 31

If there’s a city that needs a miracle to break in its favor, Buffalo, NY, is definitely among the most deserving. The city of broken tables and shattered Super Bowl dreams is home to the Nowak family, who reunite for the holidays in their modest home shrouded in the glow of a decades-old legend in the latest Swift Creek Mill production. Theater. According to the story, Grandfather met the Virgin Mary on Christmas Eve, which resulted in the construction of a 20ft memorial. As you might guess, it turns out there’s more to the story. And, like any good dinner theater, “Miracle on South Division Street” nails the recipe for the Buffalo tribute: Kielbasa and bell peppers are on the menu. Timings vary (meals preceding the two-hour show). 17401 Route 1, South Chesterfield. $25 to $49. (804) 748-5203 or

Kieran Rundle


Friday Sunday

Virginia Opera presents “The Pirates of Penzance,” a musical family film about a young apprentice pirate about to be released from compulsory service on his twenty-first birthday…until he falls in love . 8 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $25 and up. Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St. or (800) 514-3849

Colleen Curran

. man Maryland accused of having killed children former girlfriend Chester

. Maryland man charged killing children exgirlfriend Chester