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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
BOWLES, Gary Ray (W/M)
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
Attorneys, Resentencing: William White & Brian Morrisey – Assistant
Attorney, Direct Appeal: David A. Davis – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal Resentencing: David A. Davis – Assistant Public
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Frank Tassone, Jr. – Registry
Date of Offense:
Gary Ray Bowles
was convicted and sentenced to death for the 11/16/94 murder of Walter
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.
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.
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
arrested for the murder on 11/22/94 and subsequently confessed to the
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.
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.
Bowles was convicted of the sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery
of his girlfriend at the time.
Bowles was convicted of unarmed robbery in Volusia County for pushing a
woman down and stealing her purse.
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.
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:
I: First-Degree Murder
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
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
05/27/99 Upon advisory sentencing, during the resentencing
proceedings, the jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the death
09/07/99 Bowles was resentenced as followed:
Count I: First-Degree Murder - Death
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.
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
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.
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
Bowles filed a
3.851 Motion Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 12/14/05 that is
Bowles filed a Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 08/17/06 that
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,
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
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
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
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
Florida. Local investigators began
to realize they had a vicious serial killer on their hands as they
learned the full extent of Gary's
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
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,
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
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
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
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 , 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
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
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
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
Gary's trail led investigators
further south to Savannah,
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
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
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
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
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
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
DuvalCounty 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,
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
Gary be executed by means of the
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
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
Florida where he awaits execution for three
counts of first-degree murder. There he is expected to remain until his
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
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.
SEX:M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: CE
MO:Robbed/murdered gay men.
Condemned on one count + life terms on two more, 1997; two life terms
for robbery/burglary; five years grand theft.