Daman Smoot envied what his new roommate had. Adam Brundage had a house of his own and a Mercury Cougar in pristine condition. Smoot wanted it all, prosecutors in Bucks County said Tuesday. And his jealousy was so great that he beat Brundage to death, buried his body in a quarry, and assumed Brundage’s life, living in his home and driving his car.
After more than 15 years of lies, Smoot, 37, has come clean. And he has been charged with criminal homicide in Brundage’s 2004 death.
Through a plea deal negotiated with the District Attorney’s Office, Smoot is expected to plead guilty to third-degree murder. He is already serving a 5-to-10 year sentence in state prison for a 2011 domestic assault in Montgomery County, court records show.
In announcing the homicide charges, District Attorney Matthew Weintraub compared Smoot and his deception to The Talented Mr. Ripley and expressed satisfaction that investigators could bring closure to Brundage’s family.
“Adam never had a funeral, never had a grave marker, just a tomb in the rock for 15 years," Weintraub said. "But I’m pleased to now say he’s been returned to his family for a proper burial.”
Brundage and Smoot met through mutual friends in 2004, not long after Brundage, 26, had purchased a house in Quakertown using inheritance money from the death of his father, Randy, the year before, according to investigators.
When Brundage disappeared that October, Smoot gave the older man’s family and friends conflicting information about his whereabouts, investigators said. He told some that Brundage had fled to Wisconsin because of a warrant for his arrest, and to others he said Brundage was in drug rehab in West Virginia.
But few took Smoot seriously, including Brundage’s stepmother, Donna Brundage.
“I knew all along it was him,” Donna Brundage said Tuesday. “He was living in his house, driving his car, and telling me my son gave him everything.”
“I said, "Show me proof,' and he never could,” she added. “It was just a matter of time before the DA and everyone put the pieces together to bring Adam back to us.”
Police in upper Bucks County reopened Brundage’s case in April, according to Weintraub. Investigators “continued to press" Smoot, whom they had considered a suspect all along.
On Jan. 9, Smoot confessed. He told investigators that he beat Brundage in the back of the head with a baseball bat on Oct. 4, 2004 as the two argued at the Haines & Kibblehoue Quarry in Chalfont, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest. Smoot worked at the quarry as a heavy-equipment operator, and the two visited the site to get sand to fix an issue at Brundage’s home.
After the blow with the bat “caved” Brundage’s skull, Smoot held his hand over Brundage’s nose and mouth “until he was certain Brundage was dead," the affidavit said. Smoot then buried Brundage in a sand berm, in a grave so deep that investigators suspected he used machinery.
Smoot led investigators to the makeshift grave as part of his plea deal. His attorney, Keith Williams, said Smoot wanted to “unburden his soul and confess to the murder.”
“He did so openly and honestly, in a way that I haven’t seen in my long career of criminal defense,” Williams said, adding that Smoot is “very sorry for who he used to be.”
Smoot’s arrest marks the third time in about four years that prosecutors under Weintraub have solved cold-case murders. George Shaw was found guilty in 2017 of killing and raping a 14-year-old girl, and last month, William Korzon confessed to killing his wife during a domestic dispute in the 1980s.
“Another family has now been given answers about their loved one.… Another killer has been brought to justice,” Weintraub said.
And he added a stark warning, paraphrasing a conversation he had with one of the investigators on this case.
“If you murder someone in Bucks County, don’t sleep,” he said. “Because we will find you.”