Leaper's suicide note leads New Orleans authorities to woman's dismembered body

Wednesday, October 18th 2006, 9:35 pm
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A note found on the body of a suicide jumper led police to a French Quarter apartment where they found a woman's charred head in a pot, her arms and legs in the oven and her torso in the refrigerator, police said Wednesday.

Zackery Bowen, 28, leapt from the seventh floor of a luxury hotel in the Quarter on Tuesday night, police said. His note, found in his pocket, identified the woman as his girlfriend but did not mention her name.

The body was found in the second-floor apartment that Bowen and his girlfriend, Adriane Hall, had shared on the edge of the Quarter above a voodoo shop, according to the landlord. Authorities said they were trying to find Hall, but did not speculate on the identity of the dismembered woman.

A woman who identified herself as Priestess Miriam Chamani in the Voodoo Spiritual Temple and Cultural Center below the apartment said Wednesday that the couple had recently moved in.

"You see people and never know what's going on with them," the woman said.

The apartment's owner, Leo Watermeier, said he last saw Hall on Oct. 5, four days after the two put down a deposit on the one-bedroom, $750-a month flat. Later that same day, Watermeier said, Bowen called him, angrily saying the woman was kicking him out.

Watermeier said Hall told him she had caught the boyfriend cheating.

Police spokesman Anthony Cannatella said the motive appeared to be a dispute over rent. Cannatella said the note indicated Bowen strangled the woman following an argument and cut up her body -- using a hand saw and knife, according to police.

"He took his life to compensate for the life he had taken," Cannatella said.

The couple was profiled in several news stories following Hurricane Katrina as resilient residents who remained in the city after the devastating hurricane despite evacuation orders and a lack of power and water.

A story published by Newhouse News Service described the couple gathering tree limbs for cooking fires at night and trading beer and alcohol -- easy to get because of their jobs as bartenders -- for clean water. The couple also figured out a creative way to make sure police continued to patrol their house: Hall would flash her breasts at police vehicles to make sure they kept driving by, according to a profile in The New York Times.

"We've been able to see the stars for the first time," Hall told Newhouse after the storm last year. "Before, this was a 24-hour lit city. Now it's peaceful."

Cannatella said an immediate identification of the body parts wasn't possible. Det. Ronald Ruiz said police hoped to make a positive ID, using DNA or dental records, sometime next week. He said police estimated the dismembered woman was in her mid to late-20s.

The note, Cannatella said, indicated the woman was killed early in the morning of Oct. 5, in apparent conflict with the landlord's account.

Joy Spaulding, who works at the nearby Nawlin's Flava cafe, said she occasionally saw Hall and Bowen. "To be honest, they seemed like a real nice couple. They were good-looking people, young people trying to do something with their lives."