The Murders of Gary Ray Bowles
Serial Killer Gary Ray Bowles
Gary Ray Bowles was an American serial killer.
He was arrested on 22 November 1994 and sentenced to death in 1976.
He was responsible for the murders of five homosexual men during the period of March to November 1994.
Bowles was born in Clifton Forge, Virginia on 25 January 1962.
His father had just died six months before his birth, resulting in his mother remarrying several times. Bowles’ mother claimed that her son had a good early childhood but began to suffer abuse from his two stepfathers later on.
In particular, his second stepfather was a violent alcoholic and often beat Bowles, his mother, and his brother until Bowles decided to fight back and severely beat his stepfather, together with his brother when he was about 13 years old.
Subsequently, Bowles got angry that his mother still decided to remain in the marriage with his second stepfather and as a result, decided to leave home.
Bowles was then homeless for the next few years while trying to earn money as a prostitute.
Gateway To Crime
On 27 September 1982, he was arrested and convicted of aggravated sexual assault of his girlfriend at that time and was sentenced to about six years in prison.
After his release, he went on to commit even more crimes such as the unarmed robbery of an elderly woman in Volusia County in 1991 and gradually caught the attention of the FBI and media as he was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list as well as appeared on the television program America’s Most Wanted.
14 April 1994, the date of his first murder.
Bowles had allegedly murdered his then-roommate, John Roberts, 59, after an argument by beating and strangling him to death and stealing his car, credit card, and money afterward.
He was later placed on the list of suspects after police found his fingerprints and probation records at the crime scene.
Bowles then went on a killing spree, murdering five other men over the next six months, from April to November 1994, in Montgomery County in Maryland, Savannah in Georgia, Hilliard as well as Jacksonville in Florida.
His typical modus operandi includes meeting and hanging out with his potential targets at gay bars, then offering to help them with household chores and sex and in return, asked for a place to stay.
He would then violently murder them by blunt force injury, strangulation, gagging, and/or shooting them, and then go on to steal their money and car.
Bowles’ excessively violent ways of killing in each case led many to doubt that robbery was an appropriate motive as he possessed the skills to gain the trust of his victims, making their deaths seem unnecessary.
The murder of Walter Jamelle (Jay) Hinton on 16 November 1994 was the last of Bowles’ serial killings before he was finally arrested.
Bowles was arrested on 22 November 1994, before being convicted and sentenced to death on 6 September 1996.
Bowles and Hinton first met at Jacksonville Beach in November of 1994.
Bowles had agreed to help Hinton move from Georgia into his trailer and was living with Hinton for a few months prior to the murder.
On the evening of 16 November 1994, Bowles had been partying with Hinton and one of Hinton’s friends.
They have been alleged to be smoking weed and drinking beer.
After Hinton’s friend had gone home, Bowles and Hinton returned to the trailer and had more beers and pot.
Thereafter, Hinton went to bed first while Bowles continued to drink.
Bowles testified that at one point in time, something inside him “snapped” so he went outside to retrieve a concrete slab.
He then took the block of concrete to where Hinton was sleeping and dropped it on his head, crushing his cheekbone and forehead.
This awoke Hinton from his slumber as he fell from his bed.
Autopsy reports afterward showed that Hinton also suffered broken ribs and abrasions, implying that a struggle ensued between him and Bowles.
Reports also show that these were not fatal but rather, they found toilet paper and a rag lodged in his throat, indicating that the cause of death was asphyxiation when Bowles strangled him.
Bowles was going by the alias Time Whitefield at that time.
Leading up to his arrest, there were a few witnesses, including neighbors and friends of Hinton that provided recounts and testimonies, leading the search to Bowles.
Bowles was arrested at Jacksonville, Florida, and after some intense interrogation, Bowles admitted to the murder of Hinton, as well as the prior murders of David Jarman, Milton Bradley, John Roberts, and Albert Morris.
Police already had Bowles as a leading suspect for the latter two cases.
Further investigations then later revealed all the other crimes committed by Bowles and he was put in Duval County jail, awaiting sentencing for the murder of Hinton.
Bowles was only convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 due to multiple appeals made by Bowles and arguments made by his attorneys that he suffered from mental instability, which resulted in the delay of the imposition of his sentence.
His mental instability was suggested to have stemmed from childhood trauma, aggravated by the consumption of marijuana and alcohol.
In the end, the jury returned its verdict whereby they found Bowles unanimously guilty and that he be sentenced to death by the electric chair on 27 May 1999. Bowles’ attorneys appealed to the Florida Supreme Court for the 12th time and finally on 11 October 2001, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in favor of the circuit court, recommending the death sentence.
Bowles filed for another petition but was denied 2002.
To date, Bowles is still continuing to appeal his sentences and currently at the Union Correctional Institute in Raiford, Florida.
He still wishes to be granted a new sentence and is presently awaiting execution for three cases of first-degree murder and is said to remain there till his death.