After one last drink on the roof of the classy Omni Royal Orleans hotel, Zackery Bowen was ready to reveal the secret he had apparently been hiding in his French Quarter flat for nearly two weeks.
In his pocket, he had a note with directions to the one-bedroom apartment where he said police would find the remains of his dismembered girlfriend. Drink in hand, after the Caribbean music had died down for the night, Bowen disappeared from view of the rooftop surveillance camera, according to a hotel spokesman, Don Zimmer.
Then he leapt to his death, leaving more questions than he’d answered.
Police spokesman Anthony Cannatella said the note indicated Bowen had killed his girlfriend after a fight Oct. 5 by strangling her and cutting up her body. After discovering Bowen’s body Tuesday night, police said they found a woman’s remains — a charred head, legs and arms, and a torso — in a bag in the apartment’s refrigerator.
While police haven’t identified the woman, Det. Ronald Ruiz confirmed authorities were looking for Bowen’s girlfriend, Adriane Hall.
Bowen apparently lived it up in the days before committing suicide, according to a report in The Times-Picayune newspaper. Quoting a second note found in the apartment, the newspaper said Bowen wrote, “I scared myself not by the action of calmly strangling the woman I’ve loved for one and a half years ... but by my entire lack of remorse.”
‘Good food, good drugs, good strippers, good friends’
Bowen wrote he had $1,500 in cash and spent it lavishly before killing himself, according to the newspaper: “So that’s what I did: good food, good drugs, good strippers, good friends and any loose ends I may have had.”
Police Capt. Joseph Waguespack wouldn’t confirm the existence of a second note, and police refused to confirm excerpts from the suicide note, citing an ongoing investigation.
Some of those who knew Bowen, 28, remembered him as an outgoing bartender who’d had an on-again, off-again relationship with Hall. Police say Bowen also had an estranged wife, for whom he left a contact number.
Hall and Bowen were often profiled in media stories following Hurricane Katrina as die-hard residents who stubbornly refused to leave their adopted home in the French Quarter. Friends said that they occasionally fought, but that it seemed as if they were in love.
“I’d seen them have little arguments at the bar before, but the last times I’d seen them, it was totally different,” said Eura Jones, who worked with Hall at the Spotted Cat. “He came in here, brought her a dozen roses and kissed her and loved her.”
Last seen Sept. 27
Jones said she remembers Hall last showing up for work at the bar Sept. 27, the Wednesday after the Saints’ Monday night football game. She said that while it was strange for Hall not to show up for work, Jones wasn’t worried: She said Hall was reachable by cell but sometimes would forget to buy extra talk time.
Leo Watermeier, the owner of the apartment where the couple lived, said his first impression was that Hall was “the boss.” He said he last saw her Oct. 5, four days after the couple put down a deposit on the $750-a-month, recently renovated apartment above a voodoo shop. Later that day, Watermeier said Bowen called him, upset, saying the woman was kicking him out.
Watermeier said Hall told him Bowen was cheating on her. “Whether that’s true, she seemed to believe it, for sure,” he said.
Holly Jacker, a bartender at Buffa’s, said Bowen was at the dimly lit joint Sunday, two days before he leapt from the roof of the luxury hotel where he once tended bar. A regular said she saw him there, eating and drinking.
On Tuesday, police found his body and the remains in the apartment, leaving them to piece together what happened and acquaintances with dozens of questions.
“I’m having a hard time reconciling the person I remember with the person who did this,” said Tim Eskew, manager of a bike shop frequented by Bowen, who delivered groceries by bicycle.