SEATTLE – A man who shot and killed his estranged girlfriend at the University of Washington used at least three aliases and two passports and told wild stories about his life, campus police say.
Although the killer of Rebecca Griego, 26, has been identified as Jonathan Rowan, 41, the international police agency Interpol has been asked to provide verification, Assistant Police Chief Raymond Wittmier said.
Rowan entered the United States legally with a green card in 1996, but whether the passports belonged to him was less clear, Wittmier said.
"This identity may have been stolen," he said.
Trying to escape from Rowan, Griego changed her cell phone number, moved and early last month sought a restraining order, posting his picture around her office so co-workers could serve him with the papers if he showed up. After shooting her to death Monday at her office, Rowan turned the gun on himself.
The six-shot revolver had been stolen from someone who did not realize it was missing until contacted by investigators, police said. Officers would not identify the owner or say whether that person knew Rowan.
People who did know him told The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer he talked of having been a professional ice skater, of his family having owned an international hotel chain, of having been jailed in France for trying to smuggle champagne and of crossing the Irish Republican Army and being threatened by the IRA with death if he returned to England.
"That's the way he was. I knew he would screw me over if he had the chance, but there was always something likable about him," said Bryan Strieker, who met Rowan in 1997 when he answered a house-sharing advertisement. Strieker later shared three other rentals with Rowan and stayed in touch after moving to Los Angeles last year.
"I always asked him: who are you?" he said.
Rowan had a certain attraction charm despite being pudgy with crooked teeth and frequent body odor, a guzzler of Stolichnaya vodka who sometimes made rude comments to women in bars, Strieker said.
"Rebecca probably liked him for the same reason I liked him — he was super charismatic," Strieker said.
When friends tried to ignore him, "he would play the trump card of being sad and lonely and crying," he added.
Rowan worked odd jobs, dealt in cash and was known to people who did business with him as a computer whiz who designed quality Web sites and persisted in business schemes that lost money.
Rich Hall said he worked with Rowan several years ago importing electric scooters from China and sold several hundred for about five months before being edged out by competitors.
Hall said he and his brother, Bob Hall, lost about $5,000 into a wedding-related Web site Rowan wanted to develop but failed to get off the ground.
"He was a hell of an Internet guy, he knew computers inside out," Bob Hall said, "but we always kind of watched over our backs a little bit because we knew there was something shady about him."
Rich Hall said he bailed Rowan out of jail last year following a drunken driving arrest. Rowan paid him back but never showed up for sentencing.
In recent months, friends said, Rowan grew despondent and erratic over his failed relationship with Griego, leaving notes threatening to jump off a bridge and warning of harm to her and her co-workers.
Strieker said the last time they spoke, about a month ago, Rowan said many of the stories he had told were lies, that the middle name he had given — "Gulam-Nabi" — was actually the last name of his real father, whom he never met, that he grew up near Blackpool, England, that his stepfather hated him and that people would hurt him if he returned.
Kelley Ballentine, 25, who lived with Rowan and Griego in a house in Ballard, said he stole $900 in rent money and two laptop computers from them.
In her request for a restraining order, Griego asserted that she moved out of the house after Rowan got drunk, hurled candlesticks at her, tackled her to the floor and punched her in a drunken rage.
Police Chief Vicky M. Stormo said the shooting remained under review.
"We're still looking into every possible angle that we can to see if we could have done something different," Stormo said.