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Four Americans, including Southern California couple, are killed by Somali pirates, U.S. officials say

Jean and Scott Adam were on a voyage with two friends from Seattle when pirates boarded their yacht on Friday. Naval officials negotiated without success for their release.

February 23, 2011|By Scott Gold, Martha Groves and David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times

"It has essentially led to an escalation of piracy," said Adam Domanski, a legal specialist at Muse Professional Group, a company that provides escorts and on-board security in the Indian Ocean, almost entirely to cargo outfits.

The pirates also have developed a more acute understanding of the region's sailing patterns — including the fact that to avoid monsoons and other dangerous conditions, pleasure-boat "cruisers" like the Adams must navigate the area in the early months of the year.

Still, few hostage incidents end in death, prompting speculation that something went wrong either because the pirates turned on each other or the Americans attempted to escape or fight their way to freedom.

The Adams were well aware of the piracy. Scott Adam had considered shipping their boat atop a cargo vessel to avoid the dangers, a friend said. And in January, the day before she flew to Thailand to rejoin her husband on their voyage, Jean Adam discussed piracy with an old friend over lunch at Lilly's bistro in Venice.

"I said: 'Aren't you worried?' " said Marilyn Blacker, who worked as a dental hygienist in Jean Adam's Santa Monica office for years. "She was very matter-of-fact. She said they were going with this rally, that they've done this before."

Blacker and several other friends said they were mystified as to why the Adams would have splintered off from the convoy, known as Blue Water Rallies, on Feb. 15.

Scott Adam grew up in Chicago and worked for 30 years in episodic television and films, then left it behind in 1996 after undergoing a "mystical experience where God was calling him to ministry," said Richard Peace, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena and a close friend of Adam.

Scott Adam earned two master's degrees at Fuller and was pursuing a doctorate. He was a mainstay at Fuller — and, since he was decades older than many of his classmates, a well-known character on campus.

In the late 1990s, he was introduced by a mutual friend to his future wife, then named Jean Savage. They were married soon after; both had children from a previous marriage.

The only woman in her dental class at UCLA, according to one friend, Jean had been a successful and popular dentist in Santa Monica. Jean Adam's love of the open water was complicated compared with her husband. Although he had grown up around boats and seemed to understand their finer points intuitively, she initially suffered from severe seasickness, friends said.

But not only did she persevere, friends said, she recently earned a captain's license of her own.

Eventually, their missionary work became intertwined with their love of sailing, Peace said; they began traveling the world with armloads of Bibles.

They had the Quest custom-built for them in New Zealand and sailed it home in 2002. The yacht had surpassed 50,000 nautical miles, they noted on one blog entry — to a dizzying number of ports.

Torgerson, of St. Monica church, offered two Masses in the Adams' names Tuesday.

"They wanted to spend time … making loving disciples," Torgerson said. "They felt they could bring the Scriptures to all parts of this far-flung world."

Torgerson paraphrased a passage from Revelation 2:10: "If we are faithful, we will win the crown."

The Adams, he said, "won the crown. They're at peace."

scott.gold@latimes.com

martha.groves@latimes.com

david.cloud@latimes.com

Times staff writers Tony Perry in San Diego, Tony Barboza, Esmeralda Bermudez, Nate Jackson and Corina Knoll in Los Angeles, Edmund Sanders in Jerusalem and correspondent Lutfi Sheriff Mohammed in Mogadishu, Somalia, contributed to this report.

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