A mass murderer known as the “I-95 killer,” who spent the majority of 1994 targeting gay men -- including a Navy World War II veteran -- ate three burgers, fries and bacon before he was executed late Thursday in Florida.
Gary Ray Bowles, 57, was pronounced dead at 10:58 p.m. Thursday evening after receiving a lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke, the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said. Bowles had already eaten his last meal by 3 p.m. that afternoon, prison officials told WJXT.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal filed by Bowles’ attorneys earlier Thursday that argued their client was not mentally fit to receive the death penalty, clearing the way for his execution to proceed as planned.
Bowles was condemned to die for his murder conviction in the 1994 slaying of Walter Hinton, a 42-year-old who was strangled and had his head smashed with a concrete block, in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. That was one of the six known killings that terrorized the Interstate 95 corridor that year and earned him the nickname of the "I-95 killer." In each case, Bowles had a signature: He stuffed the victims’ throats with objects, including rags, toilet paper, dirt, leaves — even a sex toy.
Police were on Bowles' trail after his first killing in 1994 in Daytona Beach. Bowles left investigators a slew of evidence, including a probation document left at the scene and ATM footage showing him trying to withdraw money from the victim, John Hardy Roberts,’ bank account.
Milton Bradley, a Navy World War II veteran, was living in Savannah when he met the serial killer in May 1994 at a now-closed gay bar in the Georgia city’s historic district, a former police detective told the Associated Press. His body was found bludgeoned at a golf course with leaves and dirt stuffed down his throat.
Bowles maintained he was heterosexual but has acknowledged letting gay men perform sex acts on him for money. Prosecutors said it was how the self-described hustler survived: often using his targets for money or a place to stay, but eventually snapping and killing them.
The mass murderer was raised in West Virginia, where he experienced drugs and violence at a young age. His father was a coal miner who died of black lung disease before he was born. His mother remarried multiple times, and his first two stepfathers were abusive, according to court records.
His mother and brother have testified that Bowles began drinking, smoking marijuana and huffing glue when he was 11. When he was 13, he fought back against his second stepfather, smashing a rock into his head and nearly killing him, The Associated Press reported, citing court records.
He also had a history of violence against women. Bowles was convicted of beating and raping his girlfriend while living in Tampa in 1982 and sentenced to eight years in prison. The victim reportedly sustained severe injuries.
Fox News’ Greg Norman, Vandana Rambaran and the Associated Press contributed to this report.