Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Ray Bowles

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.

Florida map with Duval County marked
Florida map with Duval County marked

The following afternoon, William went to his soon-to-be brother-in-laws mobile home at 13748 Coral Drive in Duval County, 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 Belindas 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 states 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 victims 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 victims car and watch were missing.

A medical examination showed that Jays 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 victims 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.

Jays 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 victims 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 suspects 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 FBIs 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 to Florida. Local investigators began to realize they had a vicious serial killer on their hands as they learned the full extent of Garys crimes.

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