Gary Ray Bowles, who was convicted of killing three people and admitted to killing anoher three in a 1994 spree targeting gay men, has become the 99th man to be put to death in Florida since capital punishment resumed in 1976.
The 57-year-old Bowles, who was a gay prostitute, was pronounced dead at 10:58 pm ET, said Michelle Glady, communications director for the Florida Department of Corrections, after Bowles’ lawyer failed in a last-ditch attempt to stay the execution.
She said that Bowles has awoken at 4am and was calm and in good spirits. His last meal was three cheeseburgers, french fries and bacon.
Bowles murdered six gay men across 800 miles (1290 km) during eight months before he was caught.
He was sentenced to die in 1996 after being convicted for the murder of 42-year-old Walter Hinton, of Jacksonville, on November 20, 1994. Hinton’s head was smashed with a concrete block and he was strangled as he fought for his life, according to court testimony. The Florida Supreme Court later reversed the death sentence and remanded the case for a new penalty phase. Another jury unanimously sentenced him to death in 1999, and since then, a series of appeals have been denied by courts leading up to his execution.
Bowles pleaded guilty and received life sentences for the March 15, 1994, slaying of John Hardy Roberts, 59, of Daytona Beach, and the May 19, 1994, slaying of Albert Alcie Morris, 37, of Hilliard. Both victims were murdered inside their homes and had their credit cards and vehicles stolen. With all of his Florida victims, Bowles befriended the men, moved in with them and eventually killed them.
The killer’s other three victims were slain in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, and Wheaton, Maryland. Bowles admitted to committing those murders, but was not prosecuted for them.
In every case, Bowles shoved something down the victims’ throats to suffocate them. He used everything from a towel to a sex toy.
Bowles, who ran away from home at the age of 14, learned that he could prostitute himself to men in exchange for money and that is how he lived the life of a drifter and prostitute, according to law enforcement.
Bowles appealed his death sentence in 2017 on the basis that he was intellectually disabled but the Florida Supreme Court unanimously rejected the appeal last week.
Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, executive director sent a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last week urging him to stop the execution. The organisation said Bowles had survived many years of childhood abuse, years of homelessness and child prostitution.
“Intentionally ending Mr. Bowles’ life is unnecessary,” Michael B. Sheedy wrote in the letter. “Society can remain safe from any future violent actions of his through life-long incarceration without parole.”