Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Ray Bowles

Killing Spree

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 victims 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. Garys 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 mans credit cards.

Gary Ray Bowles, prison ID
Gary Ray Bowles, prison ID

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, Garys 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 victims 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 Garys description. Todd Simmons further stated that Jarmans credit cards had been used and the signature on the receipt matched that of Garys. Gary was eventually charged for the murder, yet his whereabouts continued to elude authorities. Several weeks later, Garys 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 victims 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 Garys. Furthermore, Bradley had been seen in the company of a man matching Garys 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 Americas 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 Garys 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.  

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