Gary Ray BOWLES
Classification: Serial killer
Number of victims: 5 - 6
Date of murders: March-November 1994
Date of arrest: November 22, 1994
Date of birth: January 25, 1962
Victims profile: John Hardy Roberts, 59 / David Jarman, 38 / Milton Bradley, 72 / Alverson Carter Jr., 47 / Albert Morris, 38 / Walter Hinton, 47 (gay men)
Method of murder: Blunt force injury, strangulation, and/or shooting
Location: Maryland/Georgia/Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in Florida on September 6, 1996. Resentenced to death on September 7, 1999
Gary Ray Bowles, 32, was arrested on Tuesday, November 22, 1994, at an employment office in Jacksonville, Florida, for the strangulation murder of 47-year-old Walter Hinton six days before. At the time, Bowles was using the name Tim Whitfield. He allegedly had been living with Hinton for several months and continued to live in his mobile home for two days after the murder. Hinton's body was in a back room the whole time.
Under questioning, Bowles admitted his true name and reportedly confessed to six murders in four states. Police had been searching for him for nine months. The Friday before his arrest he was put on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.
The odyssey began in Daytona Beach, Florida, when Bowles allegedly beat and strangled his roommate John Hardy Roberts, 59, to death.
The next murder in the alleged series took place in Wheaton, Maryland. On April 14, 1994, Bowles allegedly strangled David Jarman and stole his credit cards, his money and his car.
From there the scene moved to Savannah, Georgia, a few weeks later. Bowles was taken in by 72-year-old Milton Bradley. Bradley was found dead on a golf course near his home. He had been gagged, strangled and robbed.
Two weeks later the trail came to Hilliard, Florida, where Albert Morris was gagged, beaten, blasted with a shotgun and strangled on June 13.
In each case, the alleged killer hung out in gay bars. When he met a likely prospect, he would offer household chores and sex in exchange for a place to stay. Then, after a short period, he would violently kill his benefactor and steal money and, if possible, a car to take him away from that locale.
In each case, the violence used was far more than needed simply to kill the victims. Though they were usually robbed, there's reason to doubt that as a motive. The killer was skillful enough at gaining the trust of potential victims to make their deaths unnecessary.
Police identified Bowles as a suspect early on, but by keeping on the move, he stayed ahead of them.
The case was profiled on America's Most Wanted in July, 1994. At that time Bowles was sharing a house with several others, who called police when they saw his picture on TV. Incredibly, a tan and a mustache had changed Bowles' appearance enough that police thought he was the wrong man and let him go. They apparently failed to check him for identifying marks; he has three tattoos and old knifing scars.
It's easy to see from this example that communication between localities that would not have been possible a hundred years ago aided in identifying a possible series of killings and came very close to capturing the alleged killer. It's likely, too, that the decision to confess was influenced in part by the certainty that he would have to face the charges anyway. Computers and telecommunications have made the anonymity serial killers depend on almost obsolete.
Bowles has been charged with five of the six murders he is said to have confessed to and awaits trial.
Gary Ray Bowles (b. January 25, 1962) was an American serial killer who was sentenced to death for the murder of six men.
Bowles was born in Clifton Forge, Virginia. His father, William Franklin Bowles, had died six months before, and his mother, Frances, remarried several times. Bowles was abused by his second stepfather, a violent alcoholic who also abused Bowles' mother and older brother. The abuse continued until, at the age of 13, Bowles fought back and severely injured his stepfather. He left home soon after, angered by his mother's decision to remain in the marriage. He was homeless for the next few years, earning money as a prostitute.
In 1982, he was arrested for beating and sexually assaulting his girlfriend, and was sentenced to six years in prison. In 1991, after his release from prison, he was convicted of unarmed robbery in the theft of an elderly woman's purse, a crime for which he was sentenced to four more years in prison; he was released in two.
On April 14, 1994, in Daytona, Florida, Bowles killed his first known victim, John Hardy Roberts, who had offered him a temporary place to live. Following an argument, Bowles beat and strangled him to death, and then stole his credit card. Police soon considered him a suspect after finding his fingerprints and probation records at the crime scene.
Over the next six months, Bowles murdered five other men in Nassau County, Florida, Savannah, Georgia, and Montgomery County, Maryland. His typical modus operandi was to prostitute himself to his victims before beating and strangling them, and stealing their credit cards.
While on the run, Bowles was put on the FBI's list of the country's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives for his four known victims. Finally, on October 22, 1994, Bowles was arrested for the murder of Walter Jamelle "Jay" Hinton, and confessed to all six murders.
Bowles was found guilty of three counts of murder and sentenced to death, but the sentence was reversed by the Florida Supreme Court; he was given a new sentencing hearing, and again received the death penalty.
BOWLES, Gary Ray (W/M)
Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County, Case #94-12188
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Jack M. Schemer
Resentencing Judge: The Honorable Jack M. Schemer
Attorneys, Sentencing: Charles Cofer & William White – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorneys, Resentencing: William White & Brian Morrisey – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal: David A. Davis – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal Resentencing: David A. Davis – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Frank Tassone, Jr. – Registry
Date of Offense: 11/16/94
Date of Sentence: 09/06/96
Date of Resentencing: 09/07/99
Circumstances of Offense:
Gary Ray Bowles was convicted and sentenced to death for the 11/16/94 murder of Walter Hinton.
Gary Bowles met Walter Hinton in November of 1994. Bowles consented to helping Hinton move some of his things from Georgia to his mobile home in Jacksonville and, in exchange, Hinton would allow Bowles to live with him there.
On the evening of 11/16/94, Bowles accompanied Hinton to the train station to drop off a friend. Earlier in the evening, the three men had smoked marijuana and had a few beers.
Upon returning home, Hinton went directly to sleep, but Bowles stayed up and continued to drink. Bowles later confessed that at some point during the night, he just “snapped.” Bowles went outside and retrieved a large concrete block. He brought the block inside and sat it upon the table.
Moments later, he took the block into Hinton’s room and dropped it on his head as he lay sleeping. The block fractured Hinton’s cheek to his jaw. After the blow, Hinton was conscious and fell from his bed. Bowles then began to strangle him. He then stuffed toilet paper and a rag down Hinton’s throat. Medical examiners’ reports indicated that Hinton died from asphyxiation.
Bowles was arrested for the murder on 11/22/94 and subsequently confessed to the crime.
Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:
AGG BATTERY INTENDED HARM
3Y 0M 0D
SEX BAT/THREAT W/DEADLY WPN.
8Y 0M 0D
GRAND THEFT MOTOR VEHICLE
5Y 0M 0D
ROBBERY N/FIREARM OR D/WEAPON
4Y 0M 0D
GRAND THEFT,$300 LESS &20,000
5Y 0M 0D
1ST DG MUR/PREMED. OR ATT.
ROBBERY W/FIREARM OR D/WEAPON
BURGLARY ASSAULT ANY PERSON
GRAND THEFT,300 L/5,000
5Y 0M 0D
1ST DG MUR/PREMED. OR ATT.
NOTE: Although the above-referenced murders were committed prior to the instant offense, Gary Bowles was not charged with those murders until after his arrest for the murder of Walter Hinton.
On 09/27/1982, Bowles was convicted of the sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery of his girlfriend at the time.
On 07/18/91, Bowles was convicted of unarmed robbery in Volusia County for pushing a woman down and stealing her purse.
On 10/10/96, Bowles was convicted of First-Degree Murder in Nassau County after killing a man in a fight outside a bar. Bowles shot the victim, strangled him and tied a towel around his mouth.
On 08/06/97, Bowles was convicted of First-Degree Murder and Armed Burglary with a Battery in Volusia County. Bowles strangled the victim and stuffed a rag in his mouth.
11/22/94 Defendant arrested.
12/08/94 Defendant indicted on the following charges:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Robbery (nolle prossed)
05/16/96 The defendant pled guilty to First-Degree Murder.
07/18/96 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10 to 2 majority, voted for the imposition of the death penalty.
09/06/96 The defendant was sentenced as followed:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
08/27/98 The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Bowles’ conviction for First-Degree Murder, but reversed his death sentence and remanded to the State Circuit Court for a new penalty phase.
05/27/99 Upon advisory sentencing, during the resentencing proceedings, the jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the death penalty.
09/07/99 Bowles was resentenced as followed:
Count I: First-Degree Murder - Death
Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition of the Sentence:
The most notable source of delay in this case has been the Florida Supreme Court’s remand for resentencing in 1998.
On 11/04/96, Bowles filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in allowing the State to present evidence of Bowles alleged hatred of homosexual men. The victim in this case, Walter Hinton, was a homosexual man. Bowles contended that, since the state failed to establish any connection between Bowles alleged hatred of homosexual men and Hinton’s murder, such evidence was irrelevant and made the sentencing proceeding unreliable. The Florida Supreme Court agreed and reversed Bowles’ death sentence. On 08/27/98, the Florida Supreme Court remanded his case to the State Circuit Court for a new penalty phase proceeding.
Gary Bowles was resentenced to death on 09/07/99. He then filed another Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 10/13/99. In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in its consideration and application of the heinous, atrocious and cruel aggravating factor, and the pecuniary gain aggravating factor.
The Florida Supreme Court found substantial evidence in the record to support the trial court’s findings. Bowles also claimed that the trial court erred in failing to adequately weigh nonstatutory mitigating evidence. Upon review of the trial court’s sentencing order, the Florida Supreme Court found no error in the trial court’s ruling. Finally, Bowles argued that the trial court erred in allowing hearsay testimony about a prior violent felony conviction. The Florida Supreme Court noted that it is “appropriate” to introduce hearsay evidence of a prior felony conviction during the sentencing phase, so long as the defendant is afforded the opportunity to rebut the testimony. Just because Bowles did not rebut the testimony, did not make such evidence inadmissible.
On 10/11/01, The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Bowles sentence.
Bowles next filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 06/17/02.
Bowles filed a 3.851 Motion in the State Circuit Court on 12/09/02 that was denied on 08/15/05.
Bowles filed a 3.851 Motion Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 12/14/05 that is pending.
Bowles filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 08/17/06 that is pending.
Gary Ray Bowles - murder suspect - VICAP Alert
The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Bowles, a bisexual male, is a fugitive wanted in three States for the murders of homosexual men. Arrest warrants have been issued for each of the offenses. In addition, Bowles is a suspect in another murder investigation but, to date, no warrant has been issued.
A Federal unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP) warrant also is outstanding for his arrest. His current whereabouts is unknown, but family members live in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California.
On March 15, 1994, Daytona Beach, Florida, police discovered the body of a caucasian male, age 59, in his Daytona Beach residence. The victim sustained a blunt force injury to the head. The assailant took the victim's vehicle, which was recovered in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 25, 1994. Bowles is a suspect in this case because he resided with the victim at the time of the murder.
Then, on April 14, 1994, the body of a 38-year-old caucasian mate was found in his residence by Montgomery County, Maryland, police. The cause of death was ligature strangulation. The victim's credit cards, keys, and vehicle were taken from the scene. Police recovered the vehicle on April 22 in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Savannah, Georgia, police found the body of a 72-year-old caucasian male on May 5, 1994. The body was located behind a golf cart shed at a local golf course. The victim died of strangulation with contributing blunt force injury.
Two weeks later, on May 19, 1994, the Nassau County, Florida, police discovered a caucasian male, 38 years old, with a gunshot wound to the head. The deceased victim met Bowles at a gay bar and allowed him to live at his residence for 1 week prior to the murder. Missing from the residence were the victim's automobile, wallet, and credit cards. That same day, Bowles attempted to use one of the credit cards at a local store, but failed to provide suitable identification. Three days later, police found the victim's automobile in Jacksonville, Florida.
Bowles frequents homosexual bars, where he meets and befriends patrons. All known victims met Bowles in such establishments, and two victims permitted him to reside in their homes for a period of time.
Blunt force injury, strangulation, and/or gunshot wounds were the causes of death. Some victims were also gagged. Credit cards, cash, and automobiles, when available, were taken from the victims.
ALERT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT
This information should be brought to the attention of all patrol, homicide/crimes against persons, vice, and crime analysis personnel. Anyone with information concerning Bowles' recent whereabouts is requested to contact SA Harold Jones, 912-944-0773 or SA Dennis Regan, 912-232-3716, both assigned to FBI, Savannah; or Det. John Best, 912-651-6735/6658, Savannah, Georgia, Police Department. Law enforcement personnel having similar unsolved cases are requested to contact VICAP Lead Crime Analyst, Susan McClure, 703-640-1465, or Major Case Specialist Win Norman, 703-640-1207, at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia.
GARY RAY BOWLES
AKA: Gary Ray Boles, Gary Ray Bowels, Mark Ray Bowles, Gary Bowle, Joey Pearson (also used James, Mike, and Mark as first names)
DOB: 1/25/62 (also used 1/25/63 and 1/25/59)
POB: Clifton Forge, VA
SSAN: 338-58-7859 (also used 338-56-5709, 338-58-5878, 330-58-7859, 448-58-7859)
FBI no.: 561 161 V10
Weight: 150 pounds
Tattoos: Heart and ribbon on left arm, cross/star on left wrist
Scars: Inside of left hand, left side of nose, right wrist, left side of chest
Periods of Incarceration: 6/5/82 to 12/28/83; 10/31/85 to 12/28/85; 10/7/86 to 12/27/86; 7/10/87 to 4/3/90; 8/10/90 to 1/30/91; 2/18/91 to 12/30/93
Occupation: Carpenter, construction worker, and agricultural worker
Education: Grade school dropout but completed GED in 3/83 while incarcerated in a Florida State prison
Other Descriptors: Smokes cigarettes (usually Marlboros or Kools), uses marijuana on a regular basis, admitted in previous probation reports as having an alcohol problem.
Gary Ray Bowles
By Rachael Bell
The Murder of Walter Jamelle (Jay) Hinton
On Friday, November 18, 1994, Belinda was celebrating her birthday with her fiancé, William. However, it was not as festive a day as she would have hoped. She was concerned for her brother Jay who failed to contact her on the special day, as he had promised days earlier.
The following afternoon, William went to his soon-to-be brother-in-law's mobile home at 13748 Coral Drive in Duval County, Florida, to check up on him. Although the lights in the house were on, nobody was home and the Cadillac Jay drove was nowhere in sight. He left soon after, only to return with Belinda several times over the next two days.
The couple began to worry with each passing day. Jay had not only missed Belinda's birthday but also failed to arrive for work for two days in a row. Together the couple decided to return one last time and take a closer look, this time within the residence.
That Sunday they arrived at the home. William managed to break in by shattering a back window. Immediately upon entering, he was met with a foul odor, which emanated from within the residence. William entered the small home and found his way into the bedroom. The room was disheveled. Something was obviously amiss.
As reported in the state's petition to the Supreme Court of Florida, William entered the bathroom that day and noticed a peculiar mound covered by blankets on the bathroom floor. He reached out to feel the object, which was hard to the touch. He removed a portion of the blanket and discovered the brutally beaten and decomposing remains of Jay. Immediately he and Belinda asked the neighbors to call the police.
Investigators methodically examined the crime scene and forensic evidence was obtained from the small mobile home. Family, friends and neighbors of the deceased were also interviewed, in the hopes of obtaining information about the murder.
During a search of the residence, police discovered that the victim's wallet, along with his personal papers, had been carelessly strewn on the bed. Lying beside the bed on the floor was a pile of sheets and a large stepping-stone covered in blood. The stone was most likely taken from the front yard and weighed approximately 40 pounds.
Upon further inspection, investigators found a large concentration of blood splattered on the bathroom floor where the body was discovered. Police also discovered miniature liquor bottles and beer cans scattered throughout the home. A receipt bearing the name Timothy Whitfield was found, and the victim's car and watch were missing.
A medical examination showed that Jay's forehead and cheekbone had been crushed. The state later maintained that the injuries were "consistent with the victim having been hit with the concrete stepping stone found in the victim's bedroom." The victim was also found to have five broken ribs and abrasions on one arm and leg. It was suggested from the wounds that a struggle had ensued between Jay and his attacker. The victim was believed to have been dead for more than three days.
Jay's facial fractures were severe, but they were not fatal. The cause of death was asphyxiation from strangulation, which was further facilitated by toilet paper and a rag being lodged into the victim's throat. The victim may have been unconscious at the time his mouth was stuffed with the material.
It did not take investigators long to find a suspect in the murder of Jay. Based on reports by several witnesses, including neighbors and friends of the victim, the police strongly believed that the houseguest living with Jay at the time of his death was their leading suspect. Following a composite sketch of the man known as Timothy Whitfield, police began their search.
It took two days for the authorities to find their man. On October 22, 1994, the police apprehended and arrested the alleged assailant at the labor pool at Jacksonville Beach. The police interrogated Whitfield and learned that Whitfield was an alias. The 32-year-old suspect's real name was Gary Ray Bowles. After intense grilling, he finally admitted to the violent murder of Jay.
Jay had not been his only victim. In fact, Gary had been listed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List" in connection with a series of other brutal slayings. He was suspected of having blazed a murderous trail that stretched along Interstate 95 from Maryland to Florida. Local investigators began to realize they had a vicious serial killer on their hands as they learned the full extent of Gary's crimes.
Trouble in the Making
Gary Ray Bowles was born on January 25, 1962, in Clifton Forge, Virginia. He was the second son of William Franklin Bowles and Frances Carole Price Bowles. Gary's father died on July 22, 1961 and never had the chance to greet his youngest child into the world.
Frances remarried several times after the death of Gary's father. According to Frances' testimony later in court, Gary had a good early childhood. However, at the age of seven or eight, Gary began to suffer from abuse by his first stepfather. His mother confessed that her husband was violent with her sons, often beating the boys with his belt or fists. When she tried to protect them, she too became subject to his abuse. Eventually, Frances divorced and remarried again to a man named Chet. The new marriage proved to be just as disastrous.
Chet was known to frequently fly into violent alcohol-induced rages and beat Gary, his bother and mother. His brutality resulted in the hospitalization of Gary's mother on several occasions. Around the age of 10, Gary began to sniff glue and paint, as well as experiment with other drugs in an attempt to escape his unhappy situation. Eventually, Gary dropped out of school during the eighth grade.
The violence against the boys and their mother continued unabated over the next year. Simultaneously, the boys' anger towards their stepfather began to steadily increase. Finally, the boys had had enough. When he was 13 or 14, Gary and his brother ganged up on their stepfather and severely beat him. At one point, one of the boys actually pummeled the man on the head with a rock.
Frustrated by his mother's choice to remain in the marriage, Gary left home to live on the streets. Throughout his youth and adulthood he was able to provide for himself financially by prostituting his body to men. However, he never really made enough to maintain his own residence and he remained homeless for a majority of his teenage years and adulthood.
Gary was not considered to be gay but likely engaged in homosexual activity strictly for financial gain. According to an article by Todd Simmons, Gary only received oral sex from the men he hustled and prohibited actual intercourse during his sexual encounters. Gary's real interest was women, and he was known to have been involved in several relationships as an adult. He temporarily lived with some of his girlfriends, yet for the most part the relationships were unsuccessful and at times violent in nature.
One of Gary's relationships was particularly violent. During his early 20s, he lived for a short period of time with a woman named Wesley in Hillsborough County, Florida. In June 1982 Gary brutally attacked the young woman, sexually assaulting and beating her.
Wesley received fingerprint-like bruising around her neck as a result of the attack, suggesting that Gary attempted to choke her. One of her breasts was also bitten and her face severely battered to the point that her eyes were swollen shut. Doctors told Wesley that she also received internal lacerations to the vagina and rectum.
Moreover, an FBI agent stated that during her investigation of the crime scene, she noticed that the bedroom and bathroom of the Wesley's residence contained a significant quantity of blood. According to her statement in the court report, the blood splatters on the walls reached as high as five feet above the bed. The crime was demonstrative of Gary's violent nature and he was sentenced to six in years in prison. However, it is unclear exactly how much of the sentence he actually served.
After his release from prison, another conviction was added to Gary's criminal record. Gary was convicted in the summer of 1991 for unarmed robbery in Volusia County, Florida. He pushed a woman down and stole her purse before fleeing. Eventually, he was apprehended, arrested and sentenced to four years in prison. Again, it is unclear how long he actually served of the sentence. Following his release from prison, Gary went on to commit even more violent crimes that would catch the attention of the FBI, the media and the gay population.
Confessions of Murder
Gary's confession yielded a wealth of information concerning the events related to Jay's murder. Investigators learned that Gary met Jay in early November 1994 at Jacksonville Beach. The two likely engaged in homosexual activity sometime shortly after their meeting. After spending several days with Gary, Jay moved to a trailer on Coral Drive in Duval County. Gary assisted Jay with the move and was invited to live with him on a temporary basis.
Gary lived with Jay for about two weeks. During that time, Gary was asked to leave after a dispute concerning his behavior towards a female friend of Jay's. However, the problem was eventually rectified and Gary moved back in to the trailer.
During the interrogation into Jay's death, investigators learned that on the day of the murder, Gary had been partying with Jay and a friend named Rick. Gary alleged that he and Rick had been drinking beer and smoking pot on the afternoon of the murder while Jay was at work. The men continued to party, after Jay arrived home.
At approximately 8 p.m., Jay drove Rick to the train station with Gary in the backseat. While they waited for the train, the men drank more beer and smoked more pot. Rick later testified that at the time of his departure to the train, Gary was heavily inebriated from the alcohol, yet "coherent."
After Rick caught his train, Jay and Gary returned to the trailer. Gary continued to drink approximately a half a dozen more beers. At some point, Jay went to his bedroom to sleep, leaving Gary behind in the living area of the trailer. Gary testified that something inside him "snapped" sometime that evening.
Gary confessed to police that he went outside, got the stone, brought it into the house and put it down on the table. He claimed that he momentarily stopped to think, and then proceeded to carry the stone into the bedroom. As Jay lay asleep, Gary dropped the heavy stone on his head. Jay awoke, stunned by the blow. Shortly thereafter, a brief struggle ensued. An article by Vivian Wakefield stated that Gary then stuffed Jay's mouth with a rag and toilette paper before strangling him to death.
Unofficial, real-time court transcripts made later during Gary's trial stated that he then took Jay's car and possibly his watch and drove from the trailer but later returned to the house. Gary stayed at the house for approximately two days. At one point, he brought a homeless female acquaintance to the house for a short while before returning her to the place he had found her. It is believed that she was not aware that the crime had taken place.
The car that was stolen from Jay following his death was abandoned several days before Gary was apprehended. Investigators learned that from that time up until his arrest he resided at a Jacksonville Beach motel. Shortly after Gary's confession of the events surrounding Jay's death, investigators learned that his murder was only one of several committed by Gary.
Gary admitted to the authorities that same day that he was also responsible for the murder of two other men in Florida, John Roberts and Albert Morris. The FBI had already been involved with both murder investigations, in which Gary was already a suspect. They were also involved with three other similar murder cases, in which Gary was also the leading suspect. It wasn't long before investigators were able to piece together the clues that eventually led to their realization of the atrocities committed by Gary Ray Bowles.
On April 14, 1994, Daytona police arrived at the residence of 59-year-old John Hardy Roberts, who had been brutally murdered. Roberts' badly beaten body was discovered on his living room floor. He had been strangled and a rag was found stuffed into his mouth. His head also showed signs of severe trauma and his one of his fingers was almost severed from his hand.
Judging by the disarray of the room, it appeared as if a violent struggle had taken place prior to Roberts' death. Blood was splattered everywhere. The coffee table and a glass lamp lay shattered in pieces about the floor. Moreover, the victim's car and a wallet with cash and credit cards were missing.
During the investigation, the authorities found a great deal of evidence linking the murder to a potential suspect. All the evidence discovered at the crime scene pointed towards Gary Ray Bowles as the killer. Gary's fingerprints and probation papers were found at the scene and phone records revealed that Gary made numerous phone calls to his family from Roberts' home. According to the authorities, Gary tried to use the deceased man's credit cards.
Gary later told investigators during his confession that Roberts offered Gary the opportunity to live with him temporarily at his home. Although the details of the relationship are unclear, it is believed Gary engaged in homosexual activity for a profit with Roberts. Several weeks into his stay, the two had a dispute over a woman and Gary was asked to leave. Blinded by rage, Gary attacked Roberts with a glass lamp, repeatedly beating him on the head. In Roberts' attempt to escape, he fell onto the coffee table where he was asphyxiated by Gary. Gary then stole his car and wallet and fled the scene.
A manhunt for Gary quickly ensued. Although the authorities were able to recover Roberts' car in Georgia, Gary was nowhere to be found. Eventually, Gary's trail led investigators to suburban Maryland where another similar murder had taken place.
On April 14, 1994, a maintenance man discovered the decomposing remains of 38-year-old David Jarman in the basement of his Silver Spring home. Like Roberts, Jarman had been badly beaten before having his mouth stuffed with a rag and being strangled to death. The victim's car and wallet were missing.
According to Todd Simmons, Jarman was seen the night before his death at a gay bar in Washington, D.C., with a man who matched Gary's description. Todd Simmons further stated that Jarman's credit cards had been used and the signature on the receipt matched that of Gary's. Gary was eventually charged for the murder, yet his whereabouts continued to elude authorities. Several weeks later, Gary's trail led investigators further south to Savannah, Georgia.
The decomposing remains of 72-year old Milton Bradley were discovered May 5 behind a shed at a golf club. A medical examination later determined that Bradley had been savagely beaten before being strangled. Like Roberts and Jarman, the victim's mouth was stuffed with material before he was asphyxiated.
The murder shocked the small city because Bradley had been a well-known citizen and a recognized World War II veteran. According to Bob Morris of the Savannah Morning News, Bradley was a "quiet and gentle man" who was generous almost to a fault. Morris stated that he had suffered a severe head injury during the war, which later resulted in his having to receive a lobotomy. The procedure caused slight mental impairment, which undoubtedly made him more vulnerable prey to unsavory characters, such as Gary Bowles.
During an investigation of the scene, police officer John Best discovered a palm print that was later matched with Gary's. Furthermore, Bradley had been seen in the company of a man matching Gary's description several times in the days leading up to his murder. There was little doubt that Gary had been involved in the killing.
In July, the popular television program America's Most Wanted filmed a segment about the crimes Gary was believed to have committed. Following its airing, the show received numerous responses from viewers, who claimed to have had information about his whereabouts. Gary was eventually charged with the murder of Bradley, yet he continued to elude the FBI and state authorities.
That same month, another murder occurred that once again bore striking similarities to the other slayings. On May 19, the body of 37-year-old Albert Morris was discovered in his trailer in Nassau County, Florida. He had been beaten about the head with a blunt object, shot in the chest and strangled. Morris also had a towel stuffed in his mouth and tied about his head. His car and wallet with credit cards was missing from the scene.
Once again, Gary became the leading suspect in the murder case. It is believed that Gary hustled himself off to Morris, whom he met at a gay bar in Jacksonville. Shortly after their meeting, Gary was invited to stay with Morris at his trailer outside of Hilliard, Florida. Simmons stated in his article that Gary lived with Morris for approximately two weeks prior to his death. On the night before his body was discovered, the two men were seen arguing at a bar before being thrown out.
Based on the evidence at the crime scene Gary was charged once again for murder, although he was nowhere to be found.
The FBI, who had long been involved in the investigation, suspected that he was involved in yet another murder. That May, 47-year-old Alverson Carter Jr.'s body was discovered at his Atlanta residence. The murder scene resembled that of the other crimes attributed to Gary, bearing the same MO. Forensic evidence linked him to the crime, for which he was later charged.
Carter was believed to have been Gary's fifth victim. Gary was charged with no other murders until his arrest for the slaying of Jay Hinton. According to Wakefield, Gary later confessed to the murders of Roberts, Morris, Carter, Jarman and Bradley. Following extensive interrogations by the FBI and state authorities, Gary was placed in a Duval County jail to await sentencing for his last known crime.
A Looming Death Sentence
On December 8, 1994, Gary Bowles was indicted on two counts. He was charged for the first-degree murder of Jay Hinton and of robbery. Wakefield stated that Gary pled guilty solely to the charge of first-degree murder. The honorable Jack M. Schemer presided over Gary's sentencing at the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Duval County, Florida.
The proceedings moved swiftly. The state's prosecution team, led by Assistant State Attorney Bernardo de la Rionda, argued that the murder of Jay was motivated by Gary's drive for financial gain. Moreover, they argued that the crime was sexually motivated and inspired by his hate of homosexuals.
The public defenders assigned to represent Gary were attorney's William White and Charles Cofer. They argued, among other things, that their client suffered from mental instability when he murdered Jay Hinton. His mental impairment was suggested to have been a result of the abuse Gary suffered during his early childhood, which was further exacerbated by his use of marijuana and alcohol on the night in question. They also argued that the murder was not sexually motivated, nor was it committed for financial gain.
Following the presentation of arguments, the jury hearing the case adjourned for a brief period before returning a verdict. The jury found Gary guilty of the first-degree murder and robbery of Jay Hinton. They recommended the death sentence by a vote of ten to two, which was agreed to by the court. It was suggested that Gary be executed by means of the electric chair.
Public defenders immediately filed a direct appeal with the Supreme Court of Florida. More than a half a dozen issues were argued in the appeal, one of which sited that the state failed to supply evidence proving that the murder was homosexually motivated. Moreover, it was also argued that the court erred in its finding that Gary had committed the murder for financial gain.
Upon review of the case, the Supreme Court of Florida found that there was no causal connection between Gary's alleged hatred for homosexuals and Jay's murder. They affirmed the conviction but overturned the death sentence. They then remanded the case to the state circuit court for new sentencing. According to Wakefield's article, de la Rionda was disappointed by the court's decision to have Gary retried. He stated in the article that he, "looked forward to trying him again and getting the death penalty again".
Once again, Circuit Judge Jack Schemer presided over the proceedings. During the resentencing trial, some of Gary's prior felonies were included in the state's case. The felonies included his convictions for sexual battery, robbery and the first-degree murders of Roberts and Morris, to which he had previously pled guilty.
Following intense arguments from both the prosecution and defense teams, the jury deliberated. On May 27, 1999, the jury returned its verdict after only one hour of deliberation. They unanimously found Gary Ray Bowles guilty and again suggested that he be sentenced to death in the electric chair.
Gary's attorneys filed an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. This time, 12 issues were raised in the defense's petition. Among the issues, Bowles claimed that the court erred in allowing the state to introduce the Roberts and Morris murder convictions being that they were not in the original sentencing proceedings. Moreover, they also argued that the court erred in its finding that the murder was committed in the course of robbery for financial gain.
On October 11, 2001, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in favor of the circuit court. They were able to find no errors during the resentencing procedure, thus supporting its recommendation for the death sentence. Frustrated by the decision, Gary's lawyers then filed another petition, this time to the United States Supreme Court. However, the petition was denied in June 2002.
To date, Gary continues to petition the state courts. He hopes that one day he will be granted a new sentencing hearing. He is currently imprisoned at the Union Correctional Institute in Raiford, Florida where he awaits execution for three counts of first-degree murder. There he is expected to remain until his death.
Florida's Death Penalty
For a little more than three decades, the state of Florida has allowed the execution of criminals who have committed capital offenses, such as first-degree murder and capital drug trafficking. The decision to enact the death penalty has been highly controversial and has brought the subject to the forefront of state and national politics. However, few are actually aware of the history surrounding capital punishment in Florida, the law itself or the facts surrounding the death penalty.
According to Florida's Department of Corrections, the first inmate to be executed by Florida's electric chair was Frank Johnson in 1924. Over the next 40 years capital punishment continued to occur on a sporadic basis. However, during the early 1960s the constitutionality of capital punishment was attacked.
The Supreme Court of the United States decided that the death penalty was no longer an appropriate measure to be used against criminals. It was considered to be a form of "cruel and unusual" punishment, which violated the Eighth Amendment. Many of the statutes pertaining to the death penalty were invalidated, causing the nationwide suspension of the death penalty. Almost immediately, approximately 600 prisoners' death sentences were reduced to life imprisonment across the country, 96 of them in Florida alone.
Deathpenaltyinfo.msu.edu stated that advocates of the death penalty began to propose new statutes that would allow the death penalty to be carried out under certain circumstances. Florida was one of the first states to revise its statutes so that capital punishment could be reinstated.
Eventually in 1976, after a 15-year suspension, Florida reenacted the death penalty. The first execution to take place in Florida following the capital punishment suspension took place in 1979.
Currently, Florida is one of 38 states that allow the death penalty. Ron Word of the Associated Press stated that since its reinstatement two women and 54 men have been executed, averaging 2.3 deaths per year. To date, there are approximately 385 inmates on death row awaiting execution. The latest statistics suggest that a majority of Florida's death row inmates are white. African-Americans and Latino-Americans are the second and third largest minority populations on death row.