Gary Ray Bowles who started an eight-month serial killing spree of six gay men is set to be the 99th death row inmate executed in Florida on Thursday.
Six gay men were savagely beaten and choked. One was bludgeoned with a discarded toilet. In every case, the victims had something crammed down their throats — a towel, wads of toilet paper, a fistful of dirt.
Each man fought for his life, but lost.
Bowles, started his eight-month homicidal binge by killing John Hardy Roberts, 59, on March 14, 1994, inside the victim’s beachside home in Daytona Beach. He was arrested a few days after killing his sixth victim, Walter Hinton, 42, in Jacksonville on Nov. 20, 1994.
Bowles committed three murders in Florida — in Daytona Beach, Jacksonville and Hilliard. He killed two other men in Georgia — one in Savannah and the other in Atlanta. He also murdered a man in Wheaton, Maryland.
He would say to the world during a television interview years later how remarkably easy it was to kill someone.
Tom Youngman, a retired homicide and crime scene investigator with the Daytona Beach Police Department, was one of a battery of investigators who interviewed Bowles following his arrest. He asked Bowles why he chose gay men as his murder victims.
“He said they only perform an act on him and he never did (to) them,” Youngman said last week. “I said, ‘Well, that’s homosexuality,’ and he says, ‘No.’
“Then what are you if you’re not a homosexual?” Youngman asked Bowles.
“I’m a hustler,” Bowles replied.
In May 1996, Bowles stunned prosecutors when he pleaded guilty to killing to the murders. They still decided to pursue the death penalty, based on the facts of the case. One victim’s head was bashed with a 40-pound concrete block and he had been suffocated with toilet paper and a wash cloth, according to court testimony.
The Jurors recommended the death sentence in a 10-2 vote in July 1996. The judge agreed and sentenced him to death later that summer.
In August 1998, the Florida Supreme Court overturned Bowles’ death sentence, saying it was wrong of the prosecution to introduce Bowles’ hatred of homosexuals as evidence.
The following May, jurors heard evidence again on whether to recommend life or death. They were unanimous the second time. Bowles was transported back to death row in September 1999, where he has remained for 20 years.
You can read more details of the case at Daytona Beach News-Journal.