Gary Ray Bowles, a serial killer who preyed on older gay men during an eight-month spree that left six dead, was executed by lethal injection Thursday at Florida State Prison. The sentence was carried out at 10:58pm, according to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Bowles received the death penalty for the Nov. 1994 murder of Walter Hinton in Jacksonville Beach. Hinton was Bowles’ sixth and final known victim in a series of killings in an eight-month span in 1994 that terrorized the Interstate 95 corridor and won him the nickname the “I-95 killer,” the AP reports. It began in Daytona Beach with the murder of John Hardy Roberts. In between, there were victims in Rockville, Maryland; Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta; and Nassau County, Florida. In each case, Bowles had a signature: He stuffed the victims’ throats with objects—towels, rags, toilet paper, dirt, leaves, and even a sex toy.
Bowles, 57, was raised in West Virginia, where he experienced drugs and violence at a young age. His mother and brother testified that Bowles began drinking, smoking marijuana, and huffing glue when he was 11 years old. When he was 13, he fought back against his abusive second stepfather, smashing a rock in his head and nearly killing him, according to court records. That’s when Bowles left home. Investigators say Bowles survived by letting gay men perform sex acts on him for money, though he has maintained he is straight. He also has a history of violence against women. He was convicted of beating and raping his girlfriend while living in Tampa in 1982 and sentenced to eight years in prison. Former Savannah detective John Best believes he Bowles might have killed women. Best says Bowles freely admitted to killing his male victims, almost in a boastful manner, but when asked if there were female victims, he “never gave us a yes or no answer.”
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