Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 10, 1976
Date of arrest: 5 days after (surrenders)
Date of birth: 1953
Victims profile: Kathryn Stryker, 55, and her paralyzed, bedridden, mother, 76
Method of murder: Stabbing with a butcher knife
Location: Muscogee County, Georgia, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Georgia on June 25, 1986

Jerome Bowden - Georgia - Jun 25, 1986

Mrs. Kathryn Stryker and her mother had not answered the door or telephone for several days. Their neighbors became alarmed and police were summoned.

When Deputy Sheriff Samuel Profitt first entered the house on October 14, 1976 he noticed the ransacked rooms and then heard labored breathing. Profitt found Mrs. Wessie Jenkins, Mrs. Stryker's mother, lying on a bed in a pool of dried blood, still alive.

Sheriff Profitt then discovered the body of Kathryn Stryker in the kitchen. The victim's skull was beaten in, leaving her features unrecognizable; and a butcher knife was buried deep in her chest.

An autopsy revealed that the base of the skull was fractured by the application of extreme force, such as is found in the victims of car accidents and plane crashes. There was also a large open wound behind the ear through which the doctor could see the brain. The knife wound had caused no bleeding, indicating that the victim was already dead when stabbed. Death had occurred three to four days earlier.

A blow of great force by a nonsharp object had caused the injuries.  Mrs. Jenkins had suffered a stroke earlier in September, resulting in a partial paralysis that left her bedridden. After she was found on October 14, she was removed to a hospital where she became unconscious and died several weeks later. Mrs. Jenkins, when first admitted, had numerous injuries.

The police received information from one James Graves implicating appellant in the crime, and obtained a warrant for appellant.

On October 15, 1976, Bowden, who was informed that police were looking for him, turned himself in to an officer and was advised of his rights and taken into custody. He made a statement at police headquarters, which was admitted into evidence at trial following a Jackson-Denno hearing.

The statement arose spontaneously from a conversation between Bowden and Detective Warren Myles as they sat in a police car while two other detectives were inside a house speaking to the girlfriend of James Graves, to whom they had been directed by Bowden. The other two detectives, Hillhouse and Hardaway, then returned to the car and drove appellant back to headquarters.

When Bowden saw some jewelry that the police had found in a stove on the back porch of Graves' house, he exclaimed that it was what he had hidden in the stove. In his detailed statement, Bowden related that he and Graves, while raking Mrs. Stryker's yard one day, talked about burglarizing her home. Graves lived next door to her. Graves had been inside and had seen things he thought were valuable.

The following Monday, armed with a pellet gun to knock anyone out who might interfere, Bowden and Graves entered the house about 8:30 a.m., using a screwdriver to open the door. They surprised Mrs. Stryker in the kitchen and Graves hit her twice with the pellet gun, causing her to fall. Graves then unplugged a television and took it over to his yard.

Meanwhile, appellant gathered together several pieces of jewelry that he found around the house. The appellant then asked the elderly Mrs. Jenkins the location of a gun in the house. When she would not tell him, the appellant hit her "five or six times" in the face.

The appellant further related how he and Graves searched the house, then left and went to Graves' house. They spent time "laughing and discussing" what they had done. When Graves suggested going to a shopping center and snatching purses, appellant advised him that they should "lay low" for awhile.

After making this statement, appellant additionally stated that he hit Mrs. Stryker twice and then, to "put her out of her misery," stabbed her once with a butcher knife from a drawer. When they returned to Graves' house, they threw wigs they had worn into the trash can and hid the jewelry in the stove.

Appellant said Graves later sold the television to a Sammie Robertson and received a partial payment of $ 10. Graves also sold some coins belonging to the victims. A wig was found on a couch in Graves' house. Jewelry found by police in the stove included a piece with Mrs. Stryker's name on it, and a pin which was identified as having belonged to Mrs. Jenkins. A pellet gun was found under Graves' house.

Sammie Robertson testified that he received a television set from Graves and gave him $ 10. This television was seized by police and the model and serial numbers were compared with the numbers on an order form at a repair shop where Mrs. Stryker had ordered some knobs for her television. The numbers matched. The operator of a coin shop stated that he bought some old coins from Graves on October 11. A strand of hair on the pellet gun was compared with Mrs. Stryker's hair and found to be similar. There were no dissimilar characteristics.

Appellant testified in his own behalf as follows: He turned himself in to the police and told them he did not participate in the crime. He was questioned by Myles about the crime while they were in the car alone and decided to confess because Myles told him he could keep appellant from getting a death sentence. Appellant knew about the crime because police read him a statement made by Graves while appellant was interrogated.

Appellant denied killing Mrs. Stryker and said he confessed because he was afraid. He testified that he did smoke marijuana as he had said in his statement. The district attorney asked if he had smoked the marijuana on the Monday morning "after you went in and killed that woman and beat her mother" and appellant replied, "I guess it was." The defense sought to show he misunderstood the question. The state recalled witnesses to rebut appellant's testimony that his confession was induced by promises. 


Jerome Bowden



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