Murder of Tiffanie Adams by Johnus Orr investigated on Murder in the Heartland

Mugshot of Johnus Orr
Johnus Orr is serving a lengthy sentence after pleading guilty to murder. Pic credit: Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office

Murder in the Heartland is examining the murder of Tiffanie Adams and her unborn baby by her stepbrother Johnus Orr in Sullivan County, Indiana.

Johnus Orr had been engaged in a feud with Stephanie’s former boyfriend and had already threatened to kill her, her father, and the former boyfriend.

On the morning of November 5, 2014, 20-year-old Tiffanie traveled to her mother’s home in Sullivan for a brief visit. Her then-boyfriend, Donald, and father, Bruce Adams (not her biological father but someone who had previously been married to Tiffanie’s mother and took on the role of father) were expecting her to return home after a few minutes, but they never saw her alive again.

Adams later told the police he had received a call from Tiffanie’s cellphone and had heard a man yelling in the background and Tiffanie saying, “Dad, Dad.” The phone then went dead, and further attempts to call her went straight to voicemail.

Tiffanie was officially reported missing a couple of days later, but it wasn’t until December 30 before some farmers found her remains in a cornfield in Sullivan County.

The 8-month-pregnant Tiffanie had been left in the open field where wild animals had interfered with the remains. A red fleece jacket knotted around her neck.

The coroner concluded that Tiffanie Adams had died from ligature strangulation and ruled that the baby had been a viable fetus and had suffocated on its mother’s death. Tiffanie had also suffered a broken rib.

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The police linked stepbrother Johnus Orr to Tiffanie Adams murder

On the morning, Tiffanie disappeared, Orr was helping a friend by using the friend’s car to take him to work and home again. Orr was supposed to pick up his friend at lunchtime to take him home, but he arrived late, claiming the car had broken down. This was around the same time Tiffanie disappeared.

The police became very suspicious of Orr after they learned he had texted his wife to say the car had broken down and he would be late picking up his friend; incredibly, he texted using Tiffanie’s cellphone.

Sullivan County Sheriff social media post
Pic credit: Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office

The cellphone was recovered near Lake Sulivan in August 2015, and the Indiana State Police Cyber Crimes Unit was able to recover the deleted messages word-for-word.

A search of Orr’s friend’s car also revealed red fibers that likely belonged to the red fleece found wrapped around Tiffanie’s neck.

Johnus Orr confessed to killing Tiffanie Adams

Orr eventually pleaded guilty to the murder of Tiffanie and her unborn baby. He was given 60 years for each murder, a total of 120 years.

In 2018, the killer lodged an appeal claiming evidence had been unduly admitted and that his sentence was too harsh. The appeal failed.

Murder in the Heartland airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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