The Zach and Addie Murder/Suicide

zach and addie

Zack and Addie after Hurricane Katrina

In late October of 2006, police responded to a call from the Omni Hotel in New Orleans regarding a jumper. A man had apparently leapt off the roof of the building and landed five stories down on the hotel’s parking garage roof. When the police got there, it was clear that the man died on impact. It seemed, at first, that this was not a job for homicide. What did they have to do with a man who took his own life? The answer was in the deceased’s front pocket in the form of a several page long suicide note. In it were instructions on how to find pieces of his girlfriend.

Zack Bowen was, according to those who knew him, a decent person There was nothing about him that made people guarded or nervous. He was neither extraordinarily attractive nor memorably unattractive. He was not mean. He was not the homecoming king. He was just a pretty average American boy. He had plenty of friends, was sociable and clearly hid whatever was welling beneath the surface in the last few years of his life.

When Zack was 18 years old, he met a 28-year-old stripper named Lana Shupack. The two married and, according to some sources, Zack joined the military in order to support her and the two children their marriage bore. He rose to the rank of Sergeant in the U.S. Army over the course of a tour in Kosovo and a tour in Iraq. Some of his time in Iraq was spent at Abu Ghraib. At least one of his friends told Bowen’s biographer that he seemed to change while overseas. He was less happy and wanted to come home.

Zack Bowen got his wish to come home via a general discharge. Because of the less than honorable conditions of his departure from the Army, despite an alleged honorable recommendation from his commanding officer, Bowen was left bitter. Still, he managed to keep enough of a smile on to become a bartender in the French Quarter of New Orleans after he came home. He and his wife separated not long after his return, leaving Zack single in a city full of eligible women.

Bowen eventually set his sights on another bartender. Her name was Addie Hall. The two had one important thing in common, they both liked to drink — a lot. When Hurricane Katrina hit, the two holed up in their apartment together and rode out the storm. They were two of very few people who did not evacuate. This gained them media attention in the wake of the storm, partly because Addie had a habit of baring her breasts at police officers when they drove by. The two were also known to make cocktails for visitors to the damaged neighborhood.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was like a camping trip to the young couple. They lived without electricity, drank what they had, traded booze for water and lived a life without responsibility beyond survival. Many would later say that it suited them and going back to real life had been the tragedy for the pair. Hall was known for being a mean drunk and abusing her boyfriend when she was in the mood. Once things started getting back to normal in the French Quarter, she reportedly told their landlord that Bowen was cheating, so she was going to kick him out. It is hard to tell if these accusations were based on drunken delusion or reality.

It could be said that Zack Bowen and Addie Hall had an unsustainable lifestyle. On the one hand, there is a bartender (perhaps also a stripper, according to some sources) who drinks too much and may be too free with her fists. On the other hand, there is a damaged man who also drinks too much, has been across the world to fight only to come back to a small corner of the world and fight again, in more ways than one. Add to that the fact that their friend “Squirrel” was allegedly supplying them with a steady stream of cocaine and disaster couldn’t be more obvious. What was shocking was how it all came crashing down.

This was the state of their lives when the two 28-year-olds got into a fight on October 5, 2006 in their apartment on N. Rampart St. above the Voodoo Spiritual Temple . According to notes left by Bowen and evidence at the scene, Bowen strangled Hall to death in the bathtub before cutting her into pieces. Her head was placed in a pot on the stove. Her feet were either in another pot with her hands or in the oven with her legs, sources differ. The remainder of her corpse went in the refrigerator in a large bag.

What Zack did next was cook what he managed to get on and in the oven. He reportedly said that he was trying to “separate the meat from the bone.” It is likely that this was an attempt to get rid of the evidence. There is nothing to suggest that the man was trying to consume Addie Hall’s remains. What he did cook was so charred as to be unrecognizable. While the police knew who the victim was before they even entered the home more than a week later, it took some time to i.d. her because of the condition of her remains. Some sources also state that Bowen had sex with her corpse. Police adamantly denied this claim.

After the murder, Zack Bowen spent some time in the apartment, writing messages on the wall in spray paint and penning the five-page note that would eventually be found with his body. When he wasn’t there, he was out drinking, getting strippers and doing drugs with his friends. All of this was evidently in an effort to numb the shock of what he had done, as evidenced by what he wrote and eventually did.

The letter in Zack Bowen’s front pocket at the time of his death told police where he lived, where they would find Addie and why. His keys were also in his pocket, as was the name of his landlord, who would eventually let the police into the apartment. On the walls of the apartment, in spray paint, they found these messages: “please call my wife. i love her. i’m a total failure. look in the oven. please help me stop the pain.” There were also burns on his body that left a message. He stated that he burned himself with a cigarette for every year of his life as punishment for his failures.

There are those from the French Quarter and elsewhere who think this was more than just the story of tumultuous love, drugs, alcohol and murder. There are those who believe Zack Bowen may have been influenced by a demonic presence emanating up from the voodoo shop above which the pair made their home. Whether this theory holds any water is a matter of opinion. However, the owner of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple is well known and respected in the French Quarter. Whether or not that has any bearing on her hosting a demon in her shop is another matter of opinion.

Another possible explanation for this bizarre crime is that Zack’s experiences just caught up to him. Perhaps he had some lingering issues from his two tours overseas. Maybe Addie really was as abusive as they say. Maybe all of this added up to him feeling so much like a failure that, after he snapped and killed his girlfriend, he first tried to hide the evidence and then took his own life.

Whatever the reason Zack Bowen killed Addie Hall, he was clearly one of the few killers who went to enough trouble to cook their victims and later felt true remorse. The Albert Fishes and Jeffrey Dahmers of this world do not typically feel bad. Of course, they also ate what they cooked. That Bowen killed himself and the clear confusion he felt in the aftermath is evidence enough that even he was disgusted by what he had done. Do demons, whether war-related or truly from hell, excuse such a ghastly crime? Of course not. Even Zack Bowen knew that. Is it possible that his own suffering made victims out of both him and Addie Hall? Almost definitely.

Shelly Barclay writes on a variety of topics from animal facts to mysteries in history. Her main focus is military and political history. She is a writer for the Boston History Examiner, Military History Examiner and the Boston American Revolution History Examiner. She also writes for a local historical society newsletter. Shelly was a professional cook for 10 years and still has a passion for food. She cooks and writes about cooking nearly every day. She produces a wide variety of content, on top of her niches. Shelly is a stepmother, a former military, current veteran wife, sister of four and aunt of seven (so far).
  • BillNotti

    I dated Addie where we grew up in Durham NC after high school, years before her murder. She was verbally and could be physically abusive but she was a very small girl. She did abuse alcohol and drugs too. But she didn’t deserve this. He could have left her by walking away just like I did.

    • Lawanda Thompson

      Very sad.

      • Guest

        That’s got to be insane to think about. Knowing that you have an ex that survived Katrina but got chopped up and eaten by a possessed man? Ahh.

    • Rebecca

      That’s got to be insane to think about. Knowing you have an ex that survived Katrina, but got chopped into pieces and eaten by a possessed man? Ahh.

  • Andy

    Strange story, theres more to it than is really documented but you have the majority anyway. Its’ mostly old news at this point, open and shut case. Whether he was possessed or not, the real mystery is what was in that suicide note.

  • no

    this is so poorly written, it’s hard to read.

  • Elisha Brazeale

    I have heard so many vitriolic accusations thrown at Addie (who is obviously not here to defend herself – nor are they appropriate in light of the circumstances of this TRAGEDY – yes, it was a TRAGEDY), especially considering extenuating circumstances of life. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

    I have people in my family swo much like her, who do things because they know no other way – they unknowingly turn those around them into aggressors by the very defense – yet the people they enthrall and subsequently victimize have a choice in the matter, as well. At least, most of them do;

    in Addie and Zack’s relationship it was a perfect storm from the beginning. If you can say anything, -say it was star-struck, I’d like not to equate it with Romeo y Juliet satire – (as a fictional satire is what Shakespeare intended and life, in all it’s dark glory is so much more astounding and unbelievable and wrenchingly TRAGIC than the art) – but I will quote an ironically appropriate appropriation, (being that the Bard is public domain):

    These violent delights have violent ends

    And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,

    Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey

    Is loathsome in his own deliciousness

    And in the taste confounds the appetite.

    Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.

    Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

    • Song Lyon

      I agree with what you said at the beginning f your reply. There is far far to much “blame the victim” taking place in this article. This woman’s behavior will never justify murder. The mere fact that the boy friend cut the corpse up and cooked it should be proof of his disturbed state of mind.

    • pygmallian

      You have said allot and you have said it very well.

  • Elisha Brazeale

    I found a poem today that I believe might be hers but seems to be very early (or else she sensed it wanted something or simply jotted it down to be forgotten and it was lost among so many other of her writings…) Hoping someone can help me identify if it is hers – has her name on it.

  • pygmallian

    The author of this article suggests that Zack could not have been possessed because he felt/expressed remorse and demons do not express remorse. There are numerous forms of demonic control and very very few involve complete possession Demonic presence can manifest itself in numerous ways and one is in the way the possessed – obsessed behave. The location of his living quarters may well have hosted demonic spirits and one or more may have attached to him but Zack himself was not completely possessed. Hence his ability to feel empathy and to recognize the horror of his actions. Demons always seduce first kill last. I am certainly not qualified to know what motivated this murder but demonic influence should not be ruled out merely because he was remorseful. He may also have experienced a psychotic episode induced by the drugs he was taking.

    No matter what motivated Zack , as another poster has stated, this is a tragedy Addie was a human being .

  • Ralph Snart

    Small correction. Dahmer was one of the only serial killers to ever show remorse. Not defending him , just clearing up a fact.

    • Diana Rosalind Trimble

      You are right and I was thinking the same thing. Actually Dahmer was an interesting case in the sense that once he was “off the streets”, he genuinely attempted to understand and help others understand the stuff that went on his mind. It’s a shame he was murdered in prison as I think we could have learned a lot about what makes people like him tick. But anyway, there was no reason for the author to bring him up as it has no bearing on this case. The perp here was not someone who fantasized about doing this kind of thing and then did it, it was a horrific one-off!

      • Tiffanie

        I agree with you both. If one reads about how Jeffrey grew up (dissecting road kill, with the help and blessing of his father, the scientist), his grown-up behavior, disturbing and criminal as it was, follows it. He seemed to be unable to form real relationships with people, in order for him to do so, he had to kill them and set them up as if they were just another animal that he’d found somewhere.

  • Ilse Klein Veldeman

    In my oppinion Addie is being called out on her behavior to much. Maybe she was abusive or violent, but it didn’t excuse Zach to murder her. He was cold enough to dismember and cook her. That is saying something about his state of mind.

  • Dannette Sharpley-Truong

    I also knew Addie in Durham many years ago. I didn’t know her for very long, but we became friends and were almost inseparable for about a year in the late 90s. It was a pretty unlikely friendship, as I don’t think we had much in common at all. She was a much younger white girl from this small Southern town. Her family was very poor and pretty racist, as I recall. And I think she had dropped out of high school. I’m not sure about that, so don’t quote me. But I think that was her situation. And I was a little older, a black girl from the Midwest. From a relatively middle class family. And I had moved here to attend Duke. And I’m just saying all of that to say that she and I had very different backgrounds, and I’m really not sure how we hit it off so well. But, we became really good friends, somehow. She had a dark aura. It just seemed like a dark cloud followed her everywhere she went. Like, she couldn’t catch a break. Either she had some awful karma, or some forces just didn’t want to see her happy. I’m sure she made a lot of her troubles, just like anyone else. But, there was just something tragic about her. At least that’s how I remember her.

    At the time, my boyfriend and I lived in this collective house that became sort of a halfway house for people down on their luck. Consequently, there was a steady stream of hard cases who flowed in and out of the house, and there was a lot of dysfunction. I mean, there were good times. But, it was an intense scene. Lots of slacker types, mixed with creative people, a 40 year old jazz musician with a crack habit, a bunch of trust fundarians who just liked to party with “townees”… folks with drug and alcohol issues. Folks coming from bad home and family situations. There was a guy living in his camper on the front lawn. And I was something of a den mother, honestly. I mean, my life wasn’t in a very good place but I was older than a lot of the folks, going to college (sometimes), and had a job. And Addie was like my best friend at that time. Growing up in Durham, she knew everyone, knew all their business, and knew whom to trust. There were a bunch of us who worked the restaurant scene nearby, so we had that vampire schedule. You know, wake and bake, maybe run a couple of errands and eat a meal… A whole lot of hanging out, chain smoking cigarettes, talking trash. Then working at restaurants and staying up late. Then wake up and do it all over again. But we helped keep a lot of young folks off of the streets. We were giving people a place to stay, trying to help folks get jobs and get their lives together. Addie and I were the main females regularly around the house. I can remember playing drill sergeant and making folks clean. She and I would cobble together cheap meals for people. I don’t know. The whole scene was a mess, but there were some good times.

    What I remember most about Addie in those days is that she was trying so hard to be good. She had had a really awful home life. It’s interesting that this writer isn’t at all concerned with who Addie was before the two met. What demons she might have been living with. What fueled her actions. Regardless, I know that she was escaping a lot of pain and trauma. She really had every reason to hate people, to not trust people, or do right by them. And yet, she was always trying to do so. I remember that she could be very indifferent to people, and at times, just vicious. But, she was always trying. At least in the days when I knew her.

    She had a really good, warm, generous side to her. I remember when her cat gave birth to a litter, how lovingly she cared for the kittens. She had no heat in her apartment, I think. And it was the dead of winter. A couple of the kittens died because it was too cold, and it broke her heart. She cried like she might never stop. I remember trying to console her. I have always been afraid of water and struggled to learn how to swim. And when Addie found out, she was like, “I know just what we need to do.” She rolled up a couple of joints and we drove to this gated community that she was familiar with. We climbed the fence and sneaked into their pool. After smoking a joint together, we stripped down and climbed into the water. She taught me to float and tread water that night. I just remember how sweet it all was. How she would talk to me about the water in a way that made it so comforting and safe. Easing my fears and letting me see some of what she loved about the water. I will never forget that night. And neither will I forget the last time I spoke to her, when our friendship had fallen out. I don’t remember what went wrong between us, but I remember that she’d kind of had a thing for my boyfriend at the time, and that was a tension that had always existed. And I remember being concerned about her drinking and trying to talk to her about her life in ways that she did not like. I don’t know, but the truth is we went from being very close to never speaking almost overnight. We had a big argument, and I didn’t see her for a couple weeks. Then we ran into one another on 9th street in the rain. She was wearing this cute trench coat and I was like, “You look nice,” We were cordial, but it was clear that, whatever the moment was that made our friendship work, that moment was over. I never saw her again, and totally lost track of her until I learned of her death a couple years ago.

    Anyway, I’m not sure why I shared all of that. She has been someone that just disappeared from my life all those years ago, but I still thought about her. I would wonder what ever became of her, and of course, hope that she had a happy ending. So, I just remember how shocked I was by her life and death in New Orleans, which a friend told me about just a couple of years ago. He was a guy who had been around the house all those years ago, and we occasionally run into one another around town. We always reminisce and talk about some of the interesting characters from those days. So, when I asked, “What ever happened to Addie? You ever hear about her?”, he was like, “Oh God, you don’t know?” It was just so shocking and sad. And now, with the Katrina anniversary, I just started thinking about her again.

  • Bonnie Parker-Stewart

    I’m watching haunted history because it’s on since it’s Halloween. Just read the article from this paper & it was very easy to understand. None of us who haven’t gone to war can never judge those. I have several family members who served,1 that did 4 tours, & thankfully because of his faith &counseling, has been able to deal with the horrific things he saw. Unfortunately,there are many that can’t get past what they went through,with or without intensive therapy. You combine this with alcohol,drugs &an abusive girlfriend ( which was established by an ex & alcohol & drugs make a tiny woman EXTREMELY strong I’ve seen it myself) something was bound to happen. This man was suffering from demons from what he saw overseas serving 2 tours& yes, he should have sought help from a therapist that was trained specifically in PTSD. And he should NEVER put alcohol &drugs in to play to try & bury those demons. His girlfriend didn’t deserve what he did to her at all. But he also he didn’t deserve what happened to him either. There have been MANY vets that have come back from this war& killed their spouses. They didn’t make the news like this though because their crimes didn’t have the horrific details that this one had. None of this excuses or justifies what happened but it certainly explains why.

    • Penny Wells-Hodges

      I watched this as well and agree with you. It is truly unfortunate that our Government can send men and women to war where they are forever changed from what they see or must do and not make sure that they always have medical assistance for PTSD. I have witnessed first hand a friend going through flashbacks from the Vietnam War. He was a person who appeared to be possessed and very aggressive but not knowing who anyone was around him. The doctors said never to touch them while they are in this state of mind because they think they are still in the midst of war and will think you are the enemy and possibly kill you. Our Government needs to make changes in taking care of the people they have changed into killers. Thank you!

  • Bonnie Parker-Stewart

    I welcome any comments,positive or negative. Just be sure you do real research and fact checking if you choose to comment. I’ll be able to tell if that hasn’t been done and I DO NOT reply to ignorant comments.

  • Stephen James

    The trouble is young men find it very difficult to talk about their feelings, don’t even like to admit they have any; it’s not ‘macho.’ (There’s been a big increase in young male suicide the past 30 years or so.) This boy was clearly traumatised by Iraq, but instead of admitting he had a problem and getting help he just kept it inside and tried to deal with it with drink and drugs
    With help he could have sorted it. Sad thing.