John David Blattner

I often tease my husband that I read and watch stories about true crimes so I know what not to do if I ever wanted to take him out.  He knows I am joking, and since it is now in print, I am hoping that my readers do also.  This is just such a case in which you have to wonder just how someone ever thought they could get away with this murder.  This case has all of the cliche's that come with crimes.  Hell the perpetrators could have put a neon light over their heads saying they did it and it would not make it more obvious.  Sure there are cases out there that have gone unsolved, but a large majority of them are caused by a bad investigation.  Sometimes things are simply not tested or preserved properly to accurately, or at least in a court of law, to ensure a conviction or even find a credible suspect.  However, it takes a real genius (please note the dripping sarcasm) to commit a crime simply in hopes that their case would fall into this category.  That is rather difficult when every move you make falls into the investigators hands.

On the night of March 28, 2009 Rolling Rock Texas resident John David Blattner left his apartment at about 10:30 pm with his ex-wife Jennifer Bowen and he was never seen again.  John and Jennifer had divorced in 2008 after a rocky seven year marriage.  Jennifer had just re-married Charles Kevin Bowen in January of 2009.  John and Jennifer shared a daughter who was eight years old. Jennifer had retained full custody of their daughter and John was given limited visitation in the beginning mainly because there had been a domestic violence issue between Jennifer and John prior to their divorce.  John had pleaded no contest to charges that he had pushed and shoved Jennifer during and argument.  She would claim at that point that there had been other instances but she had never filed charges.  He served 90 days in jail for the incident.  So of course when they divorced Jennifer used that against him to limit his time with their daughter.  It seemed to apparently work as his visitation began supervised and in short limits.  However over time John had been able to obtain more and more time with their daughter and even unsupervised time.  The following week John and Jennifer were going to court again and Jennifer knew that John was going to ask for unsupervised overnight visits and she had been all but informed that it was likely that he would get them.  He had complied with and done everything he was required to do to spend more time with his daughter.  The daughter they shared was not John's only child.  He had three other children from a previous marriage and those children were much older.  In fact, one was over 18 and lived with John at the time of his disappearance. Other than this one incident with Jennifer and other things she would later claim there did not appear to be violence in John's past, nor had he apparently been violent with his children.

When John left his home on the night of March 28th he had told his daughter that he and Jennifer were just going to talk, as well as she had asked him to look at a home that she and her husband were thinking of buying.  John was a contractor and knew what he was doing.  The time of night seemed suspicious to his daughter and she did not fully trust Jennifer but obviously there was nothing she could do.  When she awoke the next morning her father had still not returned.  She called her siblings and they went to Jennifer's work to ask about their father.  Jennifer's story was that while they were out driving and talking they had stopped at a Walgreen's in the nearby town of Taylor so John could buy a flashlight.  Surveillance confirms this transaction.  Jennifer went on to say after this purchase they continued driving and an argument ensued in which John insisted that she return to the Walgreen's store and just leave him there. She said this had occurred about 12:30 the night before.  She of course claimed she did as he asked and she never saw him after that.  The children filed a report with the police.

While a search was conducted to find John Blattner, police were looking into Jennifer's story.  They had also discovered that during the night a police officer had seen a vehicle stopped on the side of the road near a bridge.  When the officer stopped to see what he could do or what was going on he was met by Charles "Kevin" Bowen, Jennifer's husband.  While conducting my research I could not find out what exactly it was Kevin had told the officer his reasoning for being there was apparently it was not suspicious at the time and he was let go. It was later determined that this was likely the spot in which Kevin Bowen threw a gun into the river.  A gun that had just been used to murder John Blattner.

John Blattner's family was absolutely convinced within a few days that he was dead when he did not show up for the custody hearing that was scheduled.  His family showed up hoping to see him there but when he failed to show they had their answer to his fate even if they did not have a body or evidence.

In the meantime a search continued and the Texas company Equusearch got involved.  Equusearch is well known for their non-profit group that comes in helping to find missing persons.  They were involved in the Casey Anthony case in Florida and they came in on a case in my local area in Indiana just last year. While owner, Tim Miller and another volunteer helper were out driving they came across an abandoned building and decided to check out the area.  It was there on April 11, 2009 that the deceased body of John David Blattner was found.  He had been shot twice, once in the head and once in the hip. Investigators swarmed in and took control of the scene and collected all the evidence they could gather. 

It did not take a genius to know who to look at first.  Any Joe Blow off the street knows who they look at first in these situations.  They start with who was last seen with the person, they move then to the spouses or ex-spouses, and then they look who had trouble with the victim, legal or otherwise.  Jennifer fit all three.  It seems that the only thing she did to attempt to even try to cover her tracks was she borrowed a friends car telling the friend hers was broken.  A lot of good that did since John's daughter knew exactly who he was with when he left. Add to this the suspicious stop of her husband by the police officer who really needed anything more.  But more is exactly what they did have.  A cigarette butt had been recovered at the scene in which John Blattner's body was found and was tested for DNA.  It came back as a match to Charles Kevin Bowen.  And yet, with all of this evidence the pair initially decided to plead not guilty and take their case to trial.  Kevin was facing capital murder and risked receiving the death penalty as it was believed he was the actual murderer. Jennifer on the other hand was charged with first degree murder for luring John Blattner to his death.  

The Bowen's apparently kept their charade up until just a week before their trial was to begin.  They finally agreed to tell what had happened and pleaded guilty. I suspect that was to save Kevin, who had no prior criminal record, from receiving the death penalty in a state that has been said to have an "express lane to the death chamber."  In the end Kevin received a sentence of 50 years while Jennifer got 40 years for her role.  They are required to serve half their sentence before being eligible for parole.

I know that the tone in which I wrote this blog is quite different than most of the ones here.  In general I try to take a more professional tone to cases but then I find one in which seems to nearly qualify for "America's Dumbest Criminals" and I just cannot help myself.  The audacity, or stupidity, of some people sometimes just utterly amazes me.  Or maybe it is just early morning yet and coffee has not made me the sweet and professional person I try to be.

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