By: E&P Staff
In one of the most bizarre stories published anywhere this year, the Times-Picayune related today the story of the tragic end of a young couple in New Orleans: the man jumped off a hotel roof in the French Quarter to his death ? after killing and dismembering, then cooking, his girlfriend. This was strange, even for New Orleans, and the newspaper noted that it reminded some of the city?s ?macabre? past.
The couple lived over a voodoo shop.
Did the newspaper shrink from telling the tale? Hardly. On its Web site, it featured at the top a color photo of the appealing couple back in the post-Katrina days — which were terrible but at least they were still alive then. It also re-published a Sept. 15, 2005, story (from Newhouse) that profiled the pair.
What it doesn’t mention is that the couple had a full 15 minutes of fame at that time, in other media, in focusing on people who stayed behind in New Orleans despite orders to leave. The New York Times, for example, wrote on Sept. 9, 2005: “Some holdouts seem intent on keeping alive the distinct and wild spirit of this city. In the French Quarter, Addie Hall and Zackery Bowen found a unusual way to make sure that police officers regularly patrolled their house. Ms. Hall, 28, a bartender, flashed her breasts at the police vehicles that passed by, ensuring a regular flow of traffic.”
The breast baring reference got picked up by ABC News, Slate and Gawker, among many other places.
The Times also carried a photo of the couple and, in fact, had to run a correction on the caption: “A picture caption yesterday about a New Orleans couple who prepared dinner in a darkened apartment misstated the man’s surname. He is Zackery Bowen, not Brown.”
The St. Petersburg Times, around the same time, quoted Hall — described as an artist and bartender — protesting forced evictions:
“They can’t do this. I’m an American citizen. They’re saying I have no rights.”
That lengthy post-Katrina profile from Newhouse last September quoted Hall — like Bowen, a bartender — saying, “We’re having a civilized hurricane,” as she offered a visitor from the Mobile Register a cocktail and a cigarette as she sat on the front steps of her Governor Nicholls Street home. The story continued:
?Bowen promised he’ll stay in New Orleans to be part of rebuilding the city.???The best thing we can do is get our area going again,’ he said. “The French Quarter is what makes this town go.??
A little more than a year later, in the French Quarter, Bowen killed his girlfriend and cut up her body. Then he jumped from the roof of the Omni Hotel ? an act apparently caught on a surveillance tape ? with a five-page suicide note in his pocket, directing police to his apartment, where they found Addie?s charred head in a pot on the stove.
Today?s Times-Picayune is a classic in crime reporting. The couple?s landlord testifies that the couple seemed happy. Referring to Bowen, the landlord adds, ?He may have in retrospect seemed a little troubled.?
The story traces their early October falling out over a lease and his alleged infidelity. The landlord ?told the couple to work through their differences and get back to him.?
Bowen?s subsequent suicide was discovered Tuesday when his body was spotted on the roof of a parking garage from a lounge at the hotel. ?A surveillance camera,? the paper notes, ?showed him walking several times to the edge of a ledge on the upper floor, then retreating, then returning again, until he finally plunged, police said.?
Then came the grim discovery in his apartment. ?He appeared to clean up the bathroom a lot after he did it,? one officer said.
What did he do? Police said they found Addie’s head burned beyond recognition in a pot on top of the stove, and her legs and feet in the same condition in pans inside the oven.
The owner of local bar told the Times-Picayune she had hired Bowen as ?eye candy for the ladies? after meeting him. ?The customers loved him. Everyone loved him,? she said.
Another bar owner who had hired Hall said she had started missing work lately. ?I had a feeling something was seriously wrong,? he said.