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Body of 10-Year-Old Boy Found Under House; Playmate Kept Death A Secret

June 29, 1988

ROCKWALL, Texas (AP) _ A 10-year-old boy who had helped authorities look for his missing playmate for a week finally admitted killing him accidentally after the body was found in a crawl space under a house, police said Tuesday.

The disappearance of 10-year-old Jason Daniel Powell on June 20 had aroused fears of abduction and galvanized this community of about 10,000 some 20 miles northeast of Dallas. In recent years, the bodies of several other children have been found long after they disappeared in the Dallas area.

Police and hundreds of citizens combed the rural suburb, focusing on a wooded area two blocks from where the dead boy’s bicycle was found.

The search ended when Carol Cade found Jason’s badly decomposed body beneath her house Monday, police chief Bruce Beaty said. Jason died of a single gunshot wound to the head, authorities said.

″(Mrs. Cade) had smelled a strong odor Sunday, and Monday she looked in a small scuttle hole in a bedroom closet and saw Jason’s body,″ Beaty said.

After the discovery, a boy who was a friend of Jason’s told an investigator he shot Jason with a gun that he did not know was loaded, Beaty said in a statement.

Police would not elaborate on the relationship between Mrs. Cade and the boy who admitted the shooting, but friends said it was her son. No one came to the door at the Cade home Tuesday evening.

″He just panicked. He was scared,″ Sean Powell, 18, said of the boy who shot his brother. He said the boy admitted shooting Jason while they were playing in the house.

″That’s the only explanation I can have for it, but I do believe him,″ Sean Powell said. ″It must have been hell for a 10-year-old kid to kill his own friend and not even know the gun was loaded.″

The shooting took place in Mrs. Cade’s living room, said police investigator James White. The .22-caliber handgun apparently belonged to Mrs. Cade, police said.

The boy’s body ″had been dragged from the living room into a bedroom and then placed in a hole under the house,″ White said.

Jason’s bicycle was found in a field some blocks away from the Cade house. The other boy had told authorities that he last saw his friend leaving on a bicycle.

The case will be referred to the Rockwall County district attorney’s office and juvenile authorities, officials said. The boy was never arrested, and was returned to the custody of his family Monday night after questioning.

Gary Watkins, who coached the boy last year in Little League, said, ″it’s just a complete shock. Everyone is just in disbelief. You just can’t imagine a little kid like him doing a thing like that.″

″(He) was always a rambunctious kid but not the kind of kid you’d ever expect something like this from,″ Watkins said.

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