Construction worker James Chambers of Fayetteville, NC was last seen on August 15, 2014, by his ex-girlfriend. His body has never been found, however, someone has admitted to killing him.
Who killed James Chambers?
James’ coworker Howard Ashleman was also his killer. For years, he kept the secret of James’ death to himself.
The day she last saw him, James’ ex-girlfriend thought Howard Ashleman was taking James to a lifeguarding job at the lake. James didn’t come back from the trip, and his family reported him missing a week later.
Howard Ashleman was interviewed by police, but they had no evidence, and no body, so they did not detain him. He later moved to Florida, where he struggled with feelings of guilt. He studied at a bible college, and his growing religious connection deepened his guilty feelings.
Howard started opening up about James’ killing to the girl he was dating, and she started recording their conversations.
Howard Ashleman admitted that he killed James, but says it was an accident. He says he had stopped the truck, got out, and fired a gun into it in order to scare James, but he killed him instead.
February 2018 Howard Adrian Ashleman was sentenced to at least 15 years, six months, but no more than 19 years and eight months for the shooting death of James Chambers in 2014. He had pled guilty to second-degree murder in negotiations that lasted about a year. It’s highly unusual to convict someone of murder without a body as evidence. Howard is currently serving his time at Columbus Correctional Institution in Whiteville.
What happened to James Chambers’ body?
Howard said he had initially buried James’ body, but later dug it up, cut it into pieces, and placed the pieces into bags that he threw over a bridge that crossed the Cape Fear River.
Search teams that include his tireless family have been looking for James’ body in the surrounding area ever since his disappearance, but have had no luck locating his remains even with the details given by James’ killer.
Tonight’s episode of Dateline “The Bridge” delves deeper into the death of James Chambers, and speaks with his family. The episode airs tonight at 8/9c on NBC.