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. Garys father died on July 22, 1961 and never had the chance to greet his youngest child into the world.
Clifton Forge, Virginia, arial photo
Frances remarried several times after the death of Garys 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 Garys 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 mothers 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. Garys 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.
Younger Gary Bowles, prison photo
One of Garys 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 Wesleys 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 Garys 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 Garys 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.