SEDGWICK  COUNTY

EARL & RUTH BOWLIN GRUESOME MURDERS

Submitted by Lori DeWinkler

Grim Search On for Clue to Murderer

Peach officers had no idea of the identity or description of "the butcher who wrecked this family," Sheriff H.M. Tomlinson reported after a day's search by 30 officers Saturday.

Killed about 8 a.m. Saturday were 6-foot-4 Earl Bowlin, 52, and a woman resumed to be his wife, Ruth, 44.

The farm couple resided in a three-room white clapboard home a quarter mile south of Kechi Rooad on Webb Road.

"We assume, but we don't know," that the woman's body discovered later in the afternoon was that of Mrs. Bowlin," the sheriff said. "The ax work makes identification difficult."

Body Decapitated

Hands, feet, and head had been removed from the body, apparently by a double-bladed ax found 12 feet from the torso.

Dr. W.J. Reals, who performed the autopsies, said the only apparent identification marks on her body were two scars from surgery. One was an appendectomy, he said.

Deputy sheriffs Saturday night still had not been able to find the missing parts of the body.

"There are many leads in a crime like this," Tomlinson said. "So far none have checked out, but we have many to chase down yet."

Fugitive Near

Tomlinson said it was "speculation" that escape artist James Otney is connected with the crime. "There's no proof of it, anyway," he said. Otney, wanted on a number of charges, three times has escaped dragnets within 20 miles of the Bowlin home.

Otney was last seen Thursday night, eight miles away.

Tomlinson, County Atty. Keith Sanborn, Dr. Reals and Coroner Clint Edwards judged that the well-kept farm home was the scene of both murders, though the woman's body was found a half mile away.

Earl Bowlin had been shot three times in the head, once in the chest and once in the arm, the autopsy showed.

He fell with his head on a welcome mat in the living room against the front door. Tall and partly balding, he was wearing bib overalls, a gray work shirt and new brown work shoes.

Crime Reconstructed

Detectives from the sheriff's office, Wichita Police Department and Highway Patrol attempted to construct the crime.

After the farmer was killed, the detectives theorized, the slayer went out to one of the neatly kept sheds and got the ax, returned to the house, and mutilated the woman's body.

A thick pool of blood, three feet wide and extending 15 feet across the kitchen to the back door, had been partly mopped up, apparently by the killer, they said.

Put Body in Car

The murderer then backed Bowlin's new green car up to the back door and put the woman's body in the back seat. The car, behind a shed in the yard when officer's arrived, had blood smeared on the steering wheel, gear shift and seats.

"It looked like he drove the woman three-fourths mile south on Webb to North 53rd and a half mile east to a little lane", Tomlinson said.

Wichita Police Chief E.M. Pod and Lt. Col. James Reeves, looking for the missing wife, found the body near the lane shortly after 1 p.m.

Flesh Poses Puzzle

It was Reeves who spotted a mound of humus piled beneath a hedgerow of osage-orange trees. Flesh nearby puzzled officers by raising a question whether the body had been decapitated at the home, or where the torso was found.

Officers spent hours trying to find the missing pieces of the body, hoping for certain identification. They believed the parts would be found in the trunk of the car once the coroner had enough information to search Bowlin's pockets for the keys.

However, when the trunk was opened, only the usual implements were there.

Ax, Shovel Found

At the scene of the woman's quick burial, police picked up an ax and a shovel, thrown in the bushes, for evidence, and took plaster casts of the tire tracks. On motorcycles and in cars, the officers checked numerous quarter section and hedgerows and fences within an area of several miles.

The Bowlin farm was as clean as an obviously meticulous farmer could make it.

Bowlin farmed 120 acres and raised about 70 pigs, 40 steers and 100 chickens. The home had a new asphalt shingle room, and the tractor, trucks and farm machinery were kept in well-cleaned sheds. Pigs he was raising ran in a white concrete lot.

Brother Makes Grim Find

Bowlin's brother, Homer, of Towanda, came to the farm Saturday morning to see earl and discovered the crime. Broken up, Homer Bowlin all day refused to talk to reporters. But he told Tomlinson that the murdered brother had agreed Friday evening to come to his Towanda farm and help him put in a new fence.

When Earl Bowlin did not show up, Homer drove to his house. After seeing the gory interior, he drove to a farm nearby and phoned the sheriff's office. Deputy Dave Smith was first on the scene.

The home has neither telephone nor plumbing. A hand pump is bedded in concrete in the pantry between the back door and kitchen. Inside the house lay Bowlin.

Two feet from the toe of his boot, a 22-caliber rifle had been rammed down behind the seat of a special Mrs. Bowlin had for her arthritic back.

The living room, where the killer went into action, runs the width of the house in front. An upright piano and a television set faced each other in opposite corners. A catalogue, folded back, lay in Mrs. Bowlin's chair.

Their front door, against which Bowlin's head rested face down, is in the middle of the room. A daybed rested beneath a window on one side of the room. All the sheets and blankets had been pulled off this bed, and off Bowlin's double bed in the back room.

Sheriff's Lts. H.E. Waite and James Moore said that the slayer had tried to mop up the blood, "but all the sheets and blankets were not enough."

"The ordinary body contains 1.3 pints of blood," Moore said, "And when you use an ax, it is too big a job to cover up the evidence."

Tomlinson's officers turned up numerous odd pieces of evidence through the day, but none that would point to an immediate solution.

Earlier in the day, a gray shirt was found in a hedgerow ditch. A glove was discovered near the female torso. But Tomlinson said he was unable to tell whether the murderer had dressed in some of Bowlin's clothes after the kiillings.

Many relatives

Both the Bowlins had many relatives in the area. Her maiden name was Ulbrich.

Soon after the discovery, the family began gathering at the farmhouse, grouped on the wide front lawn. They were waiting for missing Mrs. Bowlin to return.

Even after the discovery of the woman's torso, however, police delayed informing the relatives that Mrs. Bowlin would not return. Finally, Homer Bowlin was told, and he told the relatives.

They began to make arrangements to take care of the farm livestock and chickens. (Wichita Eagle ~ Sunday, 14 April 1963)

Kin Collapses When Informed of Slaying

Noticing a "commotion" at his sister's home, John Ulbrich, 41, drove into the farmyard Saturday afternoon to learn two slayings had been discovered.

Ulbrich, who has a heart condition, collapsed upon hearing that the bodies of a woman and man believed to be his sister and brother-in-law, had been found.

He was taken to Bethel Hospital, Newton, where his wife said late Saturday his condition had improved.

Lamb Show Viewed

Ulbrich, who resides on a farm a half mile north and a half mile east of Furley, had taken his daughter, Louise, 13, to a lamb show at the 4-H Club Building, Central and Tyler Road-Louse, was showing a lamb at the 4-H exhibit.

Mrs. Ulbrich said her husband daughter left the building around noon and started home on the Kechi road.

His sister, Ruth, resided with her husband, Earl Bowlin, a half mile off the road.

Noticing many cars, Ulbrich turned on to the dirt road leading to the Bowlin farm.

"Of course, the Highway Patrol was at the driveway. They couldn't tell him what but they told him something had happened," Mrs. Ulbrich said.

Permission Given

"They gave him permission to go down to the house where all the relatives were," she continued.

At the Bowlin home, Ulbrich's other sister, Sarah, who resides at the Ulbrich family farm with their father, Robert A., told him of the slayings.

"They wouldn't let anyone in the house, so the relatives were all outside," Mrs. Ulbrich added.

Mrs. Ulbrich, at her husband's bedside, could find no reason for the killings.

"The family was reared right around Furley. They resided on a farm all their lives. They are a good Christian family," she said sadly.

"I guess Ruth and Earl had been married about 10 years. They didn't have any children," Mrs. Ulbrich concluded. (Wichita Eagle ~ Sunday, 14 April 1963)

Distraught Girl Tells Of Talk with Victim

A pretty 18-year-old high school senior burst into tears when told police had found a woman's body believed to be her neighbor's.

Caroldine Dear, 18, Rt. No. 2, Valley Center, is believed to be the last person, other than the killer, to see Ruth Bowlin alive.

Caroldine drove with her cousin, Darald, 17, to purchase eggs from Mrs. Bowlin Friday at 6 p.m.

"Dad usually gets the eggs but he forgot so I went over," Miss Dear said.

"I was in a hurry but Ruth seemed to want me to stay. I've known her all my life."

Happy Person

"She's a happy-I mean she was a happy person, always laughing and smiling.

"She didn't laugh at all, even when Darald and I told her how we were always fighting. We were kind of goofing around, you know? But we couldn't even get her to smile."

The pretty senior fought for control as she sat on the arm of a chair in the neat farmhouse. She appeared to find it hard to believe the neighbor she loved might be dead.

"She fumbled with the eggs and seemed so nervous," Miss Dear went on. "The kitchen door was open when we came up to the house.

"I did think it odd since she even closes the door in the summer.

"We stood on the little inside porch and I handed her the money and asked if it was enough.

Money Counted

"Mrs. Bowlin counted the money and said, "Yes, it's a dollar and twenty cents isn't it?"

Caroldine said yes and turned to leave.

"Won't you be happy when school is out Caroldine?" Mrs. Bowlin called.

Caroldine turned and said yes and that she was in a hurry.

"Then," Miss Dear said, "She called, "How is the school play going? I turned and told her find and she said goodbye rather softly.

"That's the last I saw her.

"The play she asked about? Oh, that's 'The Egg and I.' Oh dear, I'll never eat an egg again in my life," the distraught girl said.

Miss Dear said the Bowlins were happy, cheerful people. "They were very much in love and they loved kids. They had none of their own. They treated me like their daughter."

Darald E Reed, Caroldine's cousin, who lives with the Dear family, said, "We stopped to look at the new pigs by the fence. Then we drove home."

Kind to Neighbors

Mrs. M.H. Dear said she had known the Bowlins 25 years. "Everyone liked them," she said. "They were always so kind to the neighbors. I can't believe this has happened.

"We've all been so afraid since this man (James Otney) started running loose. I even thought Carodline should carry a gun when she drives to school and now this." She broke off and shook her head in disbelief.

Other neighbors in the rea shared Mrs. Dear's fears.

"We have two big dogs. Maybe that protected our house," said Mrs. Ed Rau, the Bowlins' next-door neighbor. "We've been locking our doors and being extra careful, you know, about letting the children wander around."

Nothing Heard

Mrs. Rau said she hadn't heard anything. "But then I sleep well at night. I didn't hear the dogs bark," she added.

"I'm so glad the police found the body (one body was found in a grave on the Rau property). My boy is out plowing that field," she said pointing east, "Oh, if he had found it, I don't know what I would have done."

"The police haven't checked my house yet. I wish they would," she added nervously. (Wichita Eagle, Sunday, 14 April 1963)

Police Join In Probe of Two Deaths

Discovery of the double slaying Saturday sent Wichita police crime laboratory officers and a detachment from the police motor patrol into action to aid county officers.

Police Chief E.M. Pond called in four investigators of the crime laboratory after the second body was found near the farmhouse at 55th North and Webb Road.

Five motorcycle officers were dispatched to aid in protecting possible evidence. Also present were five united of the Highway Patrol to aid in blocking off the area.

Working closely with Sheriff H.M. Tomlinson were Pond and Lt. Col. James H. Reeves.

Among police laboratory investigators present were Lt. L.J. Wheeler, Jack Molden and Vern Miller.

They assisted county officers in taking photographs and preparing plaster casts of auto tire tracks.

Pond offered all-out assistance of the police force. (Wichita Eagle ~ Sunday, 14 April 1963)

Area of Homicides Blocked by Sheriff

First report of the double homicide of the Earl H. Bowlin farm home was received by the sheriff's office as an injury traffic accident at 55th North and Webb Road.

As the dispatcher was giving information, word came over the radio that a homicide was involved.

"How is a homicide involved in a traffic accident." the dispatcher was asked.

"Fata," was the response.

When members of the press appraoched, they found sheriff's men blocking county roads at intersections north and south of the Bowlin farm.

Area Blocked Off

Sheriff Tommy Tomlinson had issued instructions that all but law enforcement officers be kept from driving any nearer. Members of the press had to remain at the intersection.

Tomlinson said, "We've definitely got a homicide here but we don't know at this time exactly what to make of it."

Two Hours Later

Two hours after officers arrived, Tomlinson issued a statement that the dead man in the farmhouse was Bowlin. Mrs. Bowlin was missing.

An hour later, the sheriff said he must assume that Mrs. Bowlin also was dead because of amount of blood which formed a path through the house to the back door.

There was early speculation that Bowlin was killed toward the rear of the house and dragged to the front where officers found the body. Later, Tomlinson said investigators determined he was killed about where he lay.

Sheriff's Lt. James Moore returned with further information concerning conditions inside the three-room white frame house and about some clothing found in a roadside ditch north of the house.

Mrs. Merrill Bowlin, sister-in-law of the dead man, arrived and insisted she be allowed to go to the farmhouse to be with her husband, who had a heart condition. She was asked to sit in the patrol car until the sheriff authorized any more relatives to go in.

Detail Grow

More and more details were passed on, and finally, after three hours of waiting, members of the press were given the okay to go to the farmhouse where the drive entrance was roped off to bar them from entering the premises.

At that time, the laboratory investigator had finished gathering evidence in one room.

Tomlinson was giving latest information to the press when Lt. Col. James Reeves of the police department announced he had found the second body "in a grave" some distance from the house. Again information as to the location and circumstances in connection with the second death were withheld and newsmen were not permitted to accompany officers to the scene for more than an hour.

After additional laboratory investigation was completed, the press was permitted to look over the area where the woman's mutilated body was found. (Wichita Eagle ~ Sunday, 14 April 1963)

Posse Discovers Bowlin's Papers

A mounted posse and plodding peace officers Easter Sunday won their first break in the double riddle of the murdered Bowlins.

Raking over more than 20 square miles of northeast Sedgwick County countryside, they nosed out the stolen private papers of Earl Bowlin, 52, and his wife, Ruth, 47.

But despite such efforts as pumping out ponds and questioning more than 100 persons, Sheriff H.M. Tomlinson could not unearth the thing he needed most.

Unable to find the severed head, hands and feet of the woman whose torso was found in a hedgerow a half mile away from the farm home-he was unable to be sure what sort of murders he was investigating.

"We are assuming, among several alternatives, that an unidentified person with an unknown motive shot down Earl Bowlin and used an ax on the body of his wife," Sheriff Tomlinson said.

No Good Leads

Stymied by 24 hours of no worthwhile leads, the investigators were heartened by discovery of the Bowlins' effects.

Earl Bowlin was found dead shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday morning by his brother, Homer, of Towanda. In the blood-smeared house, Bowlin lay face down in his living room, his head on the front door mat.

A search was begun immediately for Mrs. Bowlin when sheriff's officers arrived. Kansas Highway Patrol and Wichita police helped scour the area.

At 1 p.m. Lt. Col. James Reeves, Wichita Police Department, found the butchered body of a woman under a hedgerow, a half-mile southeast of the farmhouse. The frame was nearly covered with topsoil and vegetation.

A double-bladed ax and a shovel were visible in nearby bushes. Further searching found a bloody gray shirt in a ditch north of the house and a bloody glove thrown near the shovel.

That is all a day-long quest uncovered.

Shot 5 times

An autopsy Saturday night established that Earl Bowlin died of a shot in his chest. He had been shot four more times.

Because of the missing parts of the woman's body, the pathologist could not assume that the woman had bled to death, Sheriff Tomlinson said.

Although relatives fixed Mrs. Bowlin's age at 47, pathologists at the scene originally set the age of the woman's body found in the hedgerow at 35. After an autopsy, this was raised to between 30 and 40.

The torso showed two scars from surgery, Tomlinson said. But he said the doctor who had performed at least the appendectomy on Mrs. Bowlin had died some time ago.

While detectives under Capt. James Tapp traced down many leads "to nowhere," he said, the search by reserve sheriff's officers and the mounted posse was started by Tomlinson.

Right off the bat, a patrolling reserve officer spotted some smashed eggs and torn paper in a roadside ditch near a pond four miles south and two east of the Bowlin home. The road, 127 W. is the line between Butler and Sedgwick County.

Searchers who had already covered the immediate farm area and were beginning to fan out, jumped in their cars and headed for the discovery. The posse, which had just started to unload their mounts from car vans, quickly followed.

Lt. Guy Crossfield and Capt. Tapp planned the search. Four dozen eggs which had been taken from the Bowlin home were found scattered, some in the roadside ditch, some back 50 feet in a grove of trees.

Mrs. Bowlin's drivers license, torn in two, lay beside the dirt road. Mrs. Bowlin's wallet, empty of money, lay be some weeds, a blood spotted scarf nearby.

Next Detective Sgt. Sid Werbin, wading in the pond below the road, 'raked up' Mrs. Bowlin's purse. The black bag held Mr. Bowlin's wallet, a small brown prayerbook, and the family checkbook, besides items usually found in a pocketbook.

Keys To Car

Snapped to the handle of the purse were the keys to the Bowlin's 1962 car, now blood-smeared, that detectives say was used to carry the mutilated body from the farm home to the hedge row.

"I wouldn't be doing this on Easter if I didn't have to pin down the crime," Tomlinson said, looking at the evidence. "I have to find the parts of the body."

He requested a county fire truck to pump out the 20-by-110 foot pond.

As Fire Chief Ray Davis and his men lowered the water with hoses, detectives inched down the waterline. Thousands of gallons later, the pond was empty and no human remains were found.

Mounted possemen, meanwhile, beat the woods, creeks and hedgerows, for miles on either side of the find. Butler County Sheriff Dallas Babock joined in the search.

Fugitive Reported Seen

Only other clue-and Tomlinson said it may not be connected to the murders-was a fresh report of an appearance by escape artist James Otney. Wanted on a number of charges, Otney three times has escaped mass dragnets of cooperating state county and city peace officers.

Detectives reported to Tomlinson that a man with clothing like Otney was last seen wearing, was noticed running from a West Kellogg motel Friday night.

"Why hadn't Otney turned himself in to clear himself of the two murders?" the detectives asked, reasoning that the charges he was wanted for were not capital crimes.

Pattern Lacking

Capt. Tapp tried to reason out the purpose of the murderer in taking the torso from the home, hiding it one place, throwing away the eggs and personal effects another place, and the severed parts another.

"There may be a purpose in delaying sure identification of the torso," he said. The fact that some cartons of eggs were carried back in the woods, but the rest just thrown by the road, made it look as if the slayer was interrupted.

Presence of the eggs raised the question whether the murderer was hungry, was a regular customer of the Bowlin's, or wanted to confuse the investigation. Although the eggs and papers were found five air-miles away from the home, Tomlinson said he was not assuming the killer now had a car.

Possibly Discarded

Tomlinson said that these may have been discarded by the murderer after he had disposed of the torso; but before returning the car to the home.

Tomlinson was also faced with the prospect of two renowned ax murders.

Neither Lizzie Borden said to have killed her mother and father in 1893 in Massachusetts, or Winnie Ruth Judd, who used an ax and a trunk in her murder, ever paid the final penalty.

However, although lacking certain identification of two was killed, or any identity or description of the murderer, Tomlinson said he had enough leads to take days of detective work by all available men.

Funeral Tuesday

Funeral services for Mr. and Mrs. Bowlin will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Cochran Mortuary.

The Rev. Robert E. Spindler, pastor of Valley Center Baptist Church, and the Rev. Lester L. McKeeman, pastor of Fairview Christian Church, will officiate.

Burial will be in Whitewater (Kan.) Cemetery.

Mrs. Bowlin was born March 10, 1916, in Sedgwick County, and had resided in this locality all her life. She married Bowlin March 29, 1946, at Valley Center. She was a member of Pleasant View Baptist Church.

Survivors include her father, Robert A. Ulbrich, Rt. 1, Valley Center; three sisters, Mrs. Leona Brennan, Beaumont, Tex., Mrs. LuEtta Rich, 2421 S. Osage and Miss Sarah Ulbrich, Valley Center; and six brothers, Allen and Walter Ulbrich, McCune, Kan.; John and Robert Ulbrich, Jr., Rt. 2 Valley Center, Harley, Girard, Kan., and Otto, El Dorado, Kan.

Mr. Bowlin was born Sept. 5, 1910, at Newton, Kan., but had spent most of his life in Furley and Wichita. He was a farmer and attended Pleasant View Baptist Church.

Survivors include three sisters, Mrs. Lora Mae Hartwick and Mrs. Goldie Harman, 1320-½ Wellington Place, and Mrs. Lena Bigger, Newton, and two brothers, Merrill, Greenwich, Kan., and Homer, Towanda (Wichita Eagle, 15 April 1963)

Murder Leads Checked; Riddle Still Unsolved

"It definitely had to be somebody with a twisted mind."

Sheriff's Detective Capt. James E. Tapp thus described his version of the person who killed Earl Bowlin, 52, and buried the torso of what is believed to have been Bowlin's wife, Ruth, 46.

Tapp was reviewing activities Monday evening which had seen sheriff's detectives checking leads, searching for missing parts of the woman's body and interviewing neighbors.

"We still don't know that the torso was the body of Mrs. Bowlin," Sheriff H.M. Tomlinson said.

Evidence in the form of concrete fingerprints or ballistics reports, also was missing Monday.

Laboratory Investigator H.E. Waite said no fingerprints were found and that most of the pieces of the slugs found in the body of Bowlin were too fragmentary for comparison purposes.

Investigators were working on the presumption that the rifle, discovered in a chair near Bowlin's body, was the death weapon. They were not discounting that the killer had used another weapon.

Brother Finds Body

Bowlin's body, containing five bullet wounds, was found shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday by a brother, Homer, Towanda, at the Bowlin farm home south of Kechi Road on Webb Road.

Tapp said Monday that rigor mortis had set in by the time the sheriff's officers reached the scene.

The torso was found three hours later 150 feet north of 53rd North. It was covered by a mount of earth along a hedgerow and found by Police Lt. Col. James Reeves.

The ax apparently used to sever the head, arms and legs from the woman's body was found a short distance from the burial spot. The parts of the body still were missing Monday.

"The person who did this," Tapp said, "had to know how to use an ax. The head and arms and legs were as neatly severed as they could have been."

Where the ax job had been done was indefinite. Investigators said there were no marks on the floor of the house where the ax would have cut through the woman's body.

Due to a large amount of blood in the home, they were following the theory that the woman was killed inside the home.

Windy Day

Sheriff's detectives spent the windy day trudging from farm house to farm house in the vicinity of the Bowlin residence.

About all they obtained were continued reports indicating the good character and reputation of the Bowlins.

Officers said Bowlin and his wife were well-liked throughout the area, didn't like big crowds and were non-drinkers. They paid their bills well and were hard-working farm folks.

According to relatives, the couple had been married 16 to 17 years.

Relatives and neighbors told sheriff's officers that it was a "good marriage and they never had heard a cross word between the couple."

Tapp said the investigation indicated "absolutely no one with a motive."

"We can't find anyone," Tapp said, who ever had any trouble with either one."

Mrs. Bowlin had a large egg trade with people as far away as the Park City area.

Eggs Purchased

Friday, the last day she was seen, four persons purchased 24 dozen eggs from her.

Only one of these, the next-to-last customer, reported having seen Bowlin. At that time, between 6 and 6:30 p.m., Bowlin was in the yard between a barn and machinery shed.

The rifle which was near Bowlin's body had been wiped clean. Waite said a wet rag apparently was used on it.

A work glove and a shirt found near a hedgerow ditch and near the torso were identified Monday as belonging to Bowlin.

Concerning robbery as a motive or an after-thought after the murders, the sheriff's office was not discounting the theory, although Bowlin never was a man to have much money around the house.

Tapp said a brother told him that Bowlin never had more than $50 to $100 with him. He banked regularly and the banking account was in order.

No money was discovered in the home or in the Bowlins' wallets and purse found Sunday four miles south and two east of the residence.

Tappe said the house had not been ransacked in any manner. (Wichita Eagle ~ 16 April 1963)

Lights Burn Bright and Long in Restless Section of County Where Two Found Slain

Lights burn brightly in northeast Sedgwick County these nights: silent sentinels against an unknown killer.

By day work goes on as usual-feeding the stock and tilling the fields.

But at night the lights go on. They burn far into the morning.

Some families are content with only the yard lights glowing. Others require the security of several house lights. It's a little annoying, but it gives a feeling of safety.

This is rural Sedgwick County's response to the vicious murder of two last week.

Neighbors Cautious

Neighbors and friends of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Bowlin wonder why it happened here, and to some it doesn't seem possible.

But they take precautions just the same.

"We don't feel we can be adequately protected out here like this anyway," one resident of the area said. "So we try to give ourselves the best protection we can."

M.S. Kohl, who resides within a mile of the Bowlin farm home, said, "There are bolts put on houses that haven't had one in a long time. People are buying locks who haven't bought one in years."

A family who resides in sight of the Bowlin house were gone from their home for a day this week. When they returned in the evening, they drove a mile out of their way to find Sheriff's Patrolman Eddie Allen who was in the area.

Afraid to Return

They wanted him to accompany them to their home. They were afraid to return there by themselves.

"These people out here are just plain scared," Allen said.

"None of us feel too good about this thing that has happened," a farmer in the area noted. "We turn on our lights at night. It makes us feel better."

Ed Rau, whose farm adjoins the Bowlin property, said, "It's the wives who are taking this thing the hardest, you know. They're frightened and they don't like to be left by themselves."

Curious Take Look

There are lights of another kind also-headlights of sight-seeing motorists. By day and by night they pass back and forth in front of the modest farm house on Webb Road.

They slow up and look and some ask questions. They are waved on by a sheriff's officer who keeps vigil of another kid-the protection of evidence.

Officers keep around-the-clock security watch and will until the last tiny clue can be removed from the house.

Other officers, those in uniform and those wearing the badge of a homicide investigator, scour the area on horseback, afoot and in autos, seeking evidence that may lead them to a killer.

And while they do so, the lights still burn in rural Sedgwick County.

Even the sheriff's dispatchers were having their problems Tuesday.

They received the report that two suspicious characters were prowling around vacant cabins in the area near the Bowlin home.

It was discovered the "suspicious characters" were county detectives Lt. Guy Crossfield and Sgt. Dick Colby.

Sheriff's officers Tuesday were probing the wooded area, the ponds, and the back lanes in the vicinity, searching for the head, arms and legs of the female torso found near the Bowlin residence.

Some Pieces Found

Crossfield and Colby returned late Tuesday afternoon with fragments of bone they discovered near the shallow grave where the torso was uncovered.

The was about the only new development of the day.

Laboratory investigator H.E. Waite reported that tests on a rifle found near Bowlin's body were inconclusive at this point. He could not say whether the gun was used to inflict the five bullet wounds in Bowlin's chest and head.

Sheriff H.M. Tomlinson said progress was being made in interviewing persons in the area and that there still were some suspects who had not been cleared. (Wichita Eagle ~ 17 April 1963)

Gun Question Unresolved in Bowlin Death

The question of whether Earl Bowlin was killed with his own gun or another weapon still was unresolved Wednesday following exhaustive investigation by the sheriff's laboratory investigators.

Lt. H.E. Waite, in charge of the laboratory, said Wednesday evening that "the fragments recovered from Bowlin's body were such that we are unable to make a conclusive comparison."

Waite and Laboratory Investigator Dick Wiley have run extensive tests for the past two days on a rifle discovered near Bowlin's body last Saturday.

Bowlin's body was discovered at his farm home, 5800 N. Webb Road, by his brother, Homer, of Towanda, shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday.

The torso of a female was discovered three hours later in a shallow grave 150 feet north of 53rd Street North.

Sheriff's detectives, still combing the area for the head, arms and legs of the torso, said Wednesday they were unable to state that the torso was the body of Bowlin's wife, Ruth.

Whether the torso was Bowlin's wife or not, it was buried by the side of Bowlin Tuesday at Whitewater, Kan., cemetery.

Sheriff's dispatchers reported no decrease in the number of calls concerning suspicious characters and mysterious occurrences throughout the county.

Most of the reports and leads have been of little aid, but sheriff's detectives have checked each one. (Wichita Eagle ~ 18 April 1963)


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