Montgomery Al Sept 21 2020 An Alabama State University standout student has been charged in the slaying of a fellow student, Adam “Belle” Dowdell.
Just two years ago, Ivry Hall was lauded in news stories from Alabama to Illinois for overcoming the deaths of both his parents at a young age and escaping a life of inner-city gang violence on Chicago’s Southside to being named his high school valedictorian. Now Hall is charged in the killing of Dowdell, whose remains were found Monday, Sept. 14, nearly a week after he left his campus dorm room with a friend to go get cash from the ATM.
Montgomery police announced Hall’s arrest on Friday, charging the 20-year-old Montgomery man with murder. Hall was identified as the suspect, taken into custody on September 18, 2020, and then placed in the Montgomery County Detention Facility, according to a statement from police.
“The circumstances surrounding the shooting are unknown however, Hall was identified as the suspect. There is no additional information available for release in connection to this continuing investigation,” according to the police statement.
The 22-year-old Dowdell, a graduate of Montevallo High School and sophomore at ASU, was found slain about 2:45 p.m. Monday when Montgomery and ASU police responded to the 800 block of Hutchinson Street near the old Booker T. Washington High School after receiving a report of a possible body.
The remains were taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy where it was determined the body was that of Dowdell.
Dowdell’s mother, Toya Cohill of Alabaster, said she last spoke with her son on Monday, Sept. 7, and his siblings spoke with him on Tuesday. Early Wednesday, she started receiving messages from his friends that he had not returned to his dorm room and that no one had heard from him.
She said she’s learned that on Tuesday night that he left with another student saying he was going to get cash from the bank. He was last known to be wearing a white shirt, checkerboard pants and Air Jordan 12 sneakers. Dowdell did not have a car with him at school, and his mother said if he had been planning to be gone long, he would have taken his book bag and a phone charger with him. Both were left behind.
Cohill and other family members rushed to Montgomery Wednesday and remained there until Monday. They weren’t able to track his phone because the location was turned off and the phone was dead.
The family remained in Montgomery until Dowdell’s body was found. At that time, Cohill told AL.com, “I’m not good. I’m not good at all.”
Central Alabama Crime Stoppers on Tuesday announced a reward beginning at $1,000 for information in Dowdell’s murder and Dowdell’s family began making preparations to say their goodbyes to the young man who was described by those who knew his as loving, kind-hearted and generous.
On Thursday night, hundreds gathered at Alabaster’s Buck Creek Park for a candlelight vigil for Dowdell, during which time Cohill hinted that progress had been made in the case and that it was someone who her son seemingly knew. The grieving mother addressed the large crowd, especially the younger people, telling them to stay focused and be careful who they trust.
“Make sure the person you call your friend is really your friend,” Cohill said. “Be cautious on who you call your friend. Everybody that smiles in your face is not your friend. You have to limit yourself, limit the people who know your A to your Z.”
Cohill’s public remarks came a day after she had posted this on Facebook: “They got him! They got him! When I tell y’all God is awesome, He is awesome! He is all the time! Thank you Jesus. Justice for Adam Dowdell aka Belle. I won’t miss a court date.”
Hall, a junior at ASU who ran for SGA for the 2020-2021 season, first enrolled at ASU in 2018. According to an article written by ASU spokesman Kenneth Mullinax and published in The Birmingham Times on Aug. 16, 2018, both of Hall’s parents had died by the time Hall was 16.
Hall had dropped out of school but after his mother’s death when he was just 12 years old, he appeared to turn his life around by turning to boxing which in turn led him to church. A 2019 article in faithonthejourney.org chronicled how Hall joined a gym called the Crusher’s Club, which was a boxing program aimed at giving kids a way to get off the streets. The founder also took Hall and the others to church and eventually Hall went back to school in the 8th grade.
Hall attended Tilden High School where he excelled in sports and academics. He was lauded, according to the article, for getting up at 5:30 a.m. each day for his two-hour commute to the school. Hall eventually graduated as the valedictorian of his class and ultimately, with the help of mentors, was awarded a Trust for Educational Scholarship by ASU.
His triumph was reported by multiple news outlets both in Chicago and in Alabama. In March 2019, Hall was the guest speaker at ASU’s University College Honors Day Convocation. “His goal,” according to the ASU announcement at the time, “is to continue to make a difference in the world and mentor and change young men’s lives who might be heading down the wrong path.
ASU President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. responded to the arrest of Hall in a letter to the Alabama State University “family” on Friday night:
“Today, the Montgomery Police Department announced an arrest in the death of Adam Dowdell. The suspect is also an ASU student.
I want to acknowledge the work of Interim Director of Public Safety, Kelvin Kendrick, and his investigative team in responding to the initial missing person’s report for Adam Dowdell. I also want to acknowledge the diligence of the Montgomery Police Department investigators in identifying a suspect.
We will continue to pray for those who knew and loved Adam, particularly his mother, that they will find the strength that is needed in the days to come.
This is certainly a difficult time for the University, and we must find ways to support one another. To our campus family, we offer the services of the University’s Counseling Center for those who need it. Call 334-229-4894 to reach a counselor.”