Transcript: 36. Bourbon, Blues and Blood | USA

You are listening to: The Evidence Locker.

Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones. 

As the hurricane drew closer a love would be born in the eye of the storm that would end in one of the most brutal and unexplained murder-suicides the city has ever seen. 

On October 17th 2006, at 8:30pm police were called to the Omni Royal New Orleans Hotel  to attend the scene of an apparent suicide by jumping. The victim had fallen five stories, from the rooftop down onto the asphalt of the hotel parking lot.

It looked just like a sad tragedy, a handsome 28-year-old man who had decided to take his own life. But this was only the beginning... In the young man’s pocket was a note that would reveal one of the most gruesome crimes ever committed in New Orleans. The note read:

“This is not accidental. I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took. If you send a patrol car to 826 N. Rampart, you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge and a full signed confession from myself … Zack Bowen. I scared myself not by the action of calmly strangling the woman I’ve loved for one and a half years, and then (desecrating) her body but by my entire lack of remorse. I’ve known for ever how horrible of a person I am — ask anyone — and decided to quit my jobs and spend the 1,500 cash I had being happy until I killed myself. So, that’s what I did: good food, good drugs, good strippers, good friends and any loose ends I may have had. I didn’t contact any of my family. So that’ll explain the shock. And had a fantastic time living out my days … It’s just about time now.”

Police were not sure if the content of the note was a hoax. It simply sounded too horrific to be… Even considering the note, nothing could have prepared even the most seasoned detectives for what they were about to discover at the apartment above the Voodoo Spirit Temple in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Zack Bowen was born on the 15th of May 1978 in Bakersfield California. He was the youngest of two brothers. Growing up, they moved around quite a bit, living on the road.

They did stay put in North Washington State for a while. But his dad, Jack, still lived the free-spirit lifestyle: partied a lot, drank a lot. His mother Lori did not want her sons to grow up with a role-model like Jack, so she left him

Zack and his brother Jed were in their early teens in the when his mother took them with her to start over in Santa Maria, California. Zack was tall and a bit awkward, but he was strikingly handsome and had a great sense of humour. He did not necessarily excel at school, as he liked to march to the beat of his own drum. His free-thinking upbringing made him challenge authority and teachers did not know how to treat him. 

In 1996 – he was up for homecoming king. He was the underdog and did not win. This had a larger impact on him than his friends and family anticipated. This class clown, who was always joking around and appeared to be unfazed about most things, took the defeat surprisingly hard. He felt like a failure, like he wasn’t good enough. He dropped out of school and go live with his father Jack up in Portland. 

Before father and son settled into their new life together, they took a road trip all over the Southern States. They had such a great time in New Orleans, that they decided to stay a while. Zack enrolled in high school again, but before long, he dropped out again, as he didn’t fit in. He had the constant feeling that he was an outsider and a failure.

However, he soon realised that he had a way with people. He was charming and nice and his height made him ‘tall-dark-and-handsome’. He fitted in with people older than him, people in their twenties who loved socialising. Because he was an easy-going guy who loved to party, he made many friends. He felt that he could get used to living in the Big Easy permanently, as he felt accepted and understood.

Although he was only 18, he was drinking a lot of the time. He found a job as a bartender and met a beautiful brunette called Lana Shupack. Lana worked as a stripper in Dallas and was in New Orleans for a vacation. She was ten years older than him, but he did not tell her his real age. The holiday romance continued after she returned to Dallas and Zack eventually persuaded her to join him in New Orleans.

They had a fun relationship and life was looking good. When Lana fell pregnant, she was shocked to learn the truth about Zack’s age. She broke off their relationship and said that Zack could decide for himself how involved he wanted to be in the baby’s life. Lana went through her pregnancy alone, dealing with the shock that the father of her unborn child was still a teenager. When she went into labour, she did not let Zack know. He was only informed later that his son, Jackson had been born.

Zack met his son and adored him from the very first moment he saw him. He saw him as often as he could and Lana was quite surprised to see Zack step up into the role as father. In this time, their relationship flared up again. Zack wanted them to be a family and proposed to Lana. Lana had been convinced that Zack was more than just a teenager who wanted to party, so despite the age difference, she said yes.

Weeks before the wedding, Lana found out that she was pregnant with their second child. Zack was working double shifts as a bartender at this time and was in a position to support his growing family. He married Lana on XYZ (when Zack was 19 and she was 28???) Zack’s family struggled to accept his decision to marry Lana and felt that he was way too young for the commitment that came with having a family.

A couple of months later, the couple’s second child was born, a daughter called Lily was born. Zack was working a lot and Lana was left to take care of the small children. She was not very inclusive of Zack and sometimes treated him like a kid too. This affected him, again making him feel as if he was not good enough. But he was crazy about both his kids. So to be a better husband and father, he felt that he needed to step up in his career. That is when he decided to get his GED so he could enlist in the army. 

The free-spirited Zack thrived in the military, much to his own surprise. He was very popular amongst his new band of brothers and really felt like he belonged – something that meant a lot to Zack, who often felt like he was a bit of an outsider. For the first time in his life, he also felt like he had prospects.

In 2000 he was sent to Germany, where he served in the military police. His job to take care of the security of the American base – it wasn’t a very high risk position. He loved his time there and enjoyed every aspect, that is until his platoon was sent to the war in Kosovo in 2001. It was a confronting experience, seeing the destruction of war. 

Lana and the kids eventually joined him on the German base, but their unconventional family had some trouble fitting into the social circle at the base. In January 2002 Zack’s platoon was deployed to Iraq and Lana and the kids stayed in Germany.

Lana wasn’t happy and struggled with her health during this time, suffering from Hepatitis C. Zack could not get leave from the army to be with her and his view of the army started to change. He always went the extra mile and worked as many hours as required, more even. But when he needed something, there was no give.

He witnessed one of his best friends die in a car explosion. And the effects of war and the personal trauma started taking its toll on Zack. An incident that stayed with him forever, something that he simply could not get over, had to do with a young Iraqi boy whom he had befriended. When the insurgents found out about the friendship, they massacred the boy and his whole family.

Zack knew it was time to leave and did what he had to, including failing his fitness evaluation, to get kicked out of the army. Because of his work ethic during his time of service, his superiors recommended that he received an honourable discharge. In the end, he was given General Discharge. With General Discharge, he would be excluded from veterans benefits like health care and tuition support. It would also raise concerns in employment opportunities and the future did not look good for Zack.

With Zack and Lana back in New Orleans, things had changed. He was not the same person as before and Lana felt that it was over between them. Zack had become a stranger to her, he was very different to the person she married. T

His friends said that the horrors of what he had witnessed in the war were always with him. Zack knew how to party and have a good time, but there was something behind his jovial smile and upbeat manner. He would never tell anyone exactly what it was that haunted him most, probably a whole lot of mental images and flashbacks to the chaos and violence of war. 

Zack was 27 years old and ready to start from scratch. He did not tell many people that he had been married and that he was the father of two children. People who met him took it at face value that he was a fun-loving young man who loved to party.

He found a job at Hog’s bar in the French Quarter, working the graveyard shift. With his charm and looks, he thrived at his job. Soon he would be counting the hours until the end of his shift – not because he didn’t like his job, but because there was a beautiful young lady named Addie who worked the shift after him.

Addie was probably the polar opposite to Zack: she was a free spirit who had worked as a dancing instructor and sometimes costumes-designer. The 29-year-old Addie had a fiery personality that encapsulated the bohemian spirit of New Orleans that Zack had come to love. 

He was completely head over heels for Addie, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. She thought that someone like Zack, with a military background, was not exactly her type. Her dad was a Vietnam Veteran and she had seen the issues he was saddled with. Like Zack, Addie had dropped out of high school and came to New Orleans for a fresh start. The city suited her personality perfectly.

Zack was completely taken in by her and actively pursued her. He would hang around after his shift and help Addie out where he could. He was kind and flirty and Addie started liking him too. After one of Addie’s shifts, the two shared a bottle of Jägermeister and spoke for hours, they opened up to each other and an the end of the night, they both knew they were meant to be together.

Zack neglected to tell Addie about Lana and his kids on this occasion. He probably didn’t want to scare her away. When he told his mom about Addie, she could tell that her son had met his match. He told her that Addie was his soul mate. Addie’s friends saw her beaming with happiness too. Everyone could see that this was going to be a serious relationship.

When Addie heard about Zack’s ex-wife and kids, she was understandably shocked. She was mostly upset because he had not told her from the start, but she had fallen in love with him and she was in too deep to break things off. 

Then Huricane Katrina made her ferocious way to New Orleans. Most of the city’s residents evacuated, but many stayed. As did Lana – but she was fearful of her children’s safety, so she called Zack and asked him if they could be together when the hurricane hit. Zack told Lana that he had decided to stay with Addie. Lana couldn’t believe that he would choose his new girlfriend above his children. Zack was a dedicated father and it was unlike him to turn his back on them, especially at such a dangerous time.

Addie was very scared and Zack promised her that he would not leave her. As they waited out the storm, there was no electricity and they bunkered down. It was the perfect situation for a new love to blossom. They had nothing but each other in those days and they fell into a kind of deep and obsessive love.

The hurricane was one of the most destructive forces of nature to ever hit the area. The once happy city was thrown into chaos: homes were reduced to piles of rubble, most of the city was under water and 800,000 residents were displaced. In the end more than 1800 lives were lost. There was no electricity or running water and those who chose to stay behind and face the storm, were left in a city that was destroyed beyond recognition.  

As soon as the hurricane had passed and everything around them was still in a state of chaos, the young lovers, Zack and Addie took to the streets to help neighbours and friends. 

EXPLORE: people who chose to stay when everyone else evacuated. An article by Brent Swancer sums the situation up pretty well:

“The two became some of the sparse, ragtag group of holdouts who preferred to stay among the flooded wreckage of the city they loved rather than run away to a life of uncertainty.” 

People were so thankful to be alive that there was a somewhat adrenaline-fuelled festive atmosphere in the derelict French Quarter. They were adamant to keep the spirit of New Orleans alive, even in a state of emergency. People pooled together to repair homes and make meals. 

Zack and Addie were instrumental in this group of survivors as the organised street BBQ’s and parties. Overnight, it had become somewhat of a post-apocalyptic society and the hot new couple thrived inside of it. They rummaged around for whatever food and drink they could find. They were also known to feed stray cats and care for pets who were left behind by their owners. 

They even made it into a New York Times article named: “Holdouts on Dry Ground Say: Why Leave Now?” – this is what it said – quoted directly from the article by Alex Brenson:

“Some holdouts seem intent on keeping alive the distinct and wild spirit of this city. In the French Quarter, Addie Hall and Zackery Bowen found a unusual way to make sure that police officers regularly patrolled their house. Ms. Hall, 28, a bartender, flashed her breasts at the police vehicles that passed by, ensuring a regular flow of traffic.”

In this time, Zack and Addie were so caught up in their new life, it was almost like existing on another planet. It didn’t occur to either of them to let their families know that they had survived the hurricane. Lana was furious when she typed Zack’s name in on the Red Cross website, holding her breath to see if his name was on the list of casualties. Instead she saw a news article featuring Zack and Addie, at their happiest, having a BBQ and partying with their neighbours. All this while Lana and the kids were in a shelter and later evacuated to Texas. Lana could not forgive Zack for this.

Zack was blissfully unaware of Lana, Jackson and Lily’s fates as he submerged himself into his feverish happiness with Addie. But this moment would soon pass for them. As emergency services moved in, evacuees returned, the city was cleaned up and rebuilding projects started up, life in New Orleans normalised somewhat. That is when things became turbulent between Zack and Addie. They would have arguments about anything and everything. It was ironic that, in a state of chaos, their relationship was at its best. But with ‘life-as-they-knew-it’ back on track, their relationship was in chaos.

Zack found a job at a grocery store and Addie as a bartender at a bar in the French Quarter called The Spotted Cat.

They had many fights, would break up and make up. They would skip shifts at the bar as they were drinking more and doing more and more drugs. The more they drank, the more they fought. They were both attractive and received a lot of attention, which made both of them insanely jealous and possessive. 

When Addie worked as a bartender, she would dance on the bar and entertain customers. Men loved watching her dance and flirt and Addie loved the attention. Addie knew if she danced and entertained the customers, she would get more tips. Zac didn’t care, he didn’t like her flaunting herself to other men at all. Because Zack was fuming about Addie’s behaviour at the bar, he decided to get his own back. He started frequenting strip clubs and fooled around with other girls. Addie was extremely jealous and kept accusing Zack of cheating on her. Friends say that most of the fights were instigated by Addie. But then they would make up again, a deep-rooted love-hate relationship. They would always gravitate back to each other. Addie was the Stella and Zack was Stanley: two lovers, swept up in the bohemian life of New Orleans who simply could not stay away from each other, no matter what.

When Addie’s friends confronted her about the roller-coaster of a relationship in the fall of 2006, she admitted that she had had enough and that she wanted to leave Zack for good.

But the volatile relationship was like an addiction, they could not break it. Both of them had strong personalities and they knew how to push each other’s buttons. And the fact that the were drinking heavily and using cocaine most of the time, didn’t help matters much either. In the self-created chaos of their lives, both of them had criminal charges laid against them. Zack was caught for possession of marijuana. Charges were laid against Addie for pulling a firearm on a man during an argument on the street.

One night, during a time of reconciliation, Addie and Zack played drinking games at home, just the two of them. But heavy drinking and jealous rage don’t mix all that well, and as the night progressed, the arguments escalated. It ended in Zack hitting Addie for the first time. 

He was spooked, he couldn’t believe what he had done. So the next morning, he went to his friends and told them that he was leaving New Orleans and needed a fresh start. He bought an Amtrack ticket to go to his family in Washington State, literally on the other side of the country. As far away as possible from Addie. He spent four days on trains, thinking about his relationship with Addie and missed her immensely. Addie was devastated about the fact that he left and cried most of the time.

Zack spent a couple of weeks in Portland, but felt that he had made the wrong decision and the two of them were constantly on the phone to each other. Zack decided to return to New Orleans. Not only for Addie, but also to be closer to his kids.

With Zack back in town, Addie was happy again. The couple bunkered up again for a couple of days, shutting the world out of their love-bubble, almost like the time before Hurricane Katrina struck. In that circumstance, they would thrive. But that was not reality. They had bills to pay and commitments to keep, so when life returned to normal, the routine of excessive drinking and explosive fighting was as bad as it had ever been. 

They lost many friends in the process, because nobody enjoyed hanging out with the couple who always fought. And the fights were nasty and sometimes violent. Mutual friends also did not want to choose between them, so opted to stay out of it instead. 

When Zack wasn’t working he was always at the bar where Addie worked, keeping a close eye on her, listening to every conversation with male customers. Addie told him to give her some space, but Zack ignored her request. Addie’s boss, Eura Jones, overheard a conversation where Zack said to her: 

“If I can’t have you, nobody can.”

It was a peek inside the relationship, a tell-tale sign of how dark things had become. 

They weren’t living together most of the time and Zack relied on friends for a place to crash. Zack moved on for a while, but his choice in partner surprised everyone who knew him. When his friends realised he was seeing another man, he admitted that he was bisexual. 

Addie was blown away by this revelation. She was insulted and struggled to believe that Zack could be bisexual. She saw that as the ultimate betrayal, like he said he was bi, only to get back at her. He had gone too far and she felt that he had to pay. 

Addie’s severe reaction and Zack’s friends confused reaction to his newly announced sexual preference, brought back all the issues that had been following Zack since his teens: he felt that he was a disappointment, he didn’t measure up somehow.

Still, as much as he was hurt by Addie, when she was evicted from her apartment in September 2006, he agreed that they could move in together once more. They managed to find a spot to stay in the French Quarter. It was a room above a Voodoo Shop called ‘Voodoo Spirit Temple’ on North Rampart Street. 

The Temple was long known to be associated with positive energy as it had been protected by the well-respected Priestess Meriam. Take note, that Voodoo Shops are found all over New Orleans. Inside the shops are altars where people who follow Voodoo place gifts (trinkets or even money) to a relevant spirit, to request blessings in aspects of their lives like love, success or happiness.

Zack and Addie didn’t practice Voodoo, so it was all the same to them. Zack had saved some money from his job at the grocery store, so he paid the deposit. Two days after they moved in, Addie went behind his back and signed the lease with the landlord in her name only. When Zack found out about this, he called the landlord and complained, but the landlord couldn’t do anything about it. He realised that Addie had planned the whole thing and was getting ready to kick him out. He would be out of his savings and homeless.

On October 5th they had their final fight. Zack complained to his landlord that Addie had threatened to kick him out. The landlord suggested they worked it out, and Zack said that he was sure that they would. Addie was never seen alive again.

Her boss from the bar, Eura Jones, called her many times, but Addie never called back. Eura thought that it was strange, as Addie would always return her calls.

Zack, on the other hand, was seen bar-hopping around town by himself. Most of his drinking buddies would say that he was in high-spirits and looked as if he was having the time of his life. He spent more money than he would usually do.

On October 16th he went out with some friends and everything appeared to be normal. Zack was his normal, happy-go-lucky self. He was more generous than usual, paying for drinks and ordering lap dances for friends. He even called up his ex-wife Lana and said that he wanted to party with her. When she asked him where Addie was, he said that she drove him crazy, so he drove her out of town.

On October 17th, the bell of the last round sounded on Zack’s young life. He went to the rooftop bar at the Omni Royal Hotel and opened a tab. The barman kept a close eye on him, because he could see that Zack was restless and was afraid he would bail without paying. But something else was brooding in Zack’s troubled mind.

Surveillance of the rooftop bar at the Omni Hotel showed a nervous Zack with a drink in his hand pacing towards the edge of the roof and walking back again. He was clearly not sure if he was ready to end his life. In the end, he took the final plunge. This is a very violent way of ending one’s own life and it shows that Zack felt he needed to atone for his actions.

When he was found, his body had numerous cigarette burns, which he explained in his note as self-punishment for what he had done. Also his army dog tags and a set of keys to the apartment on North Rampart Street was found in his pocket.

When police found his body and the note, they realised that they could potentially have a grisly scene waiting for them. His note said:

“I killed her at 1am Thursday, 5 October. I very calmly strangled her. It was very quick.”

The process of dismembering Addie’s body was a slow one that occurred between Zack’s nights of partying, He chronicled every step in his sordid murder-suicide journal.

Police were able to piece together the events of Addie’s last night. After their fiery argument earlier in the evening, Zack went back to the apartment and told Addie that he was not leaving. She shouted at him, saying that he slept with men and how that humiliated her. Zack became infuriated, as she had brought up his bisexuality in the earlier argument, making sure people could her, passers-by and their landlord. He told her to shut up, but she wouldn’t. The argument built up to the point where it became physical. When Zack got his hands around her neck, he could not stop himself. He was far stronger than Addie and she had no way of releasing herself from his grip. 

Once Addie was dead, lying on the floor, Zack realised what he had done. In a daze of shock he sat down and started writing down exactly what had happened. He also wrote that he violated the corpse. It was a strange account of a sick event, but he concluded saying that he still loved Addie. This act of necrophilia sadly shows how deep Zack’s psychological problems were. He had to control Addie, have him to herself one last time.

He did not go to work for a couple of days. When he showed up again, he was unkempt and looked like he had been partying all night. He told Addie’s friend who worked with him that Addie had left him and gone to North Carolina.

Then he went on a solo cocaine binge at the apartment where Addie lay dead. When the smell of Addie’s decomposing body became obvious, he set the thermostat to 60 degrees (or 15 degrees Celcius), and took her body into the bathroom. There he got to work, dismembering her body with a knife and a hacksaw. He cleaned the bathroom and there was not much blood, as Addie had been dead for a while at the time of dismemberment. 

After this, he withdrew all his money and went on the 10-day bender. Chosing the pool bar at the top of the Omnia to be his last bar. From the parking lot at the Omnia, police made their way to the apartment on North Rampart Street. Police used the key they found in Zack’s pocket.

Detectives struggled to come to terms with the scene that awaited them on Rampart Street. Even before the murder, the place was in chaos, as Addie and Zack had recently moved in, then Addie threw Zack out and then he came back, so things were still half-packed, half-unpacked. 

All over the walls were graffiti slogans. On one wall its said: “Please call my wife.” With Lana’s name and number. On another wall: “I’m a total failure.” And: “Please help me stop the pain.” With an arrow pointing to the oven where Addie’s remains were, words read:

“I love her. Look in the oven.”

There was a pot on the stove, when investigators opened it up, they found Addie’s head inside. It had been cooked. The skin was pulling away from the bone. In another pot they found her hands and feet. In the oven, police found Addie’s severed legs in a foil roasting pan, that had been partially cooked, as Zack had said in his note. He did it to separate the meat from the bone. He had also seasoned some of the flesh with herbs. 

Investigators did not have to search far to find the rest of Addie’s remains. Inside the fridge was a large garbage bag, with a torso inside. 

In life, they consumed each other, in death joined their names and souls together in tragedy for eternity. 

When the story got out in the media, reports were made that Zack ate some of Addie’s cooked flesh. This gave him the name of the “Katrina Cannibal”. But despite reports of cannibalism, Zack’s autopsy revealed that he had no meat in his stomach at the time of his death. There was also no other evidence that he consumed any of it. Police concluded that He seasoned the legs in the oven, NOT because he wanted to eat the flesh, but because he wanted to mask the smell.

Because the body was completely destroyed, pathologists had a hard time to conclusively identify her as Addie Hall.

Friends and family were mortified when they heard how Addie had died and what Zack did. Although friends knew he had issues with PTSD and that self-medicating with drugs and alcohol probably only aggravated the problem, nobody would ever have thought that this easy-going party animal and upbeat bartender would ever resort to that degree of destruction. They witnessed many fights between Zack and Addie, they always felt that their love for each other would always help them through it. And although Zack may have killed Addie in the heat of the moment, the pragmatic and disturbing way in which he handled her body, was simply too much to comprehend.

Some locals believed that there was some Voodoo involved in the killing. The violence of their arguments escalated in the short amount of time that they lived upstairs from the ‘Voodoo Spiritual Temple’. Talk around town was that Zack was possessed by an evil spirit at the time of the killing and subsequent dismemberment. Perhaps made it easier to understand why the guy with the winning smile turned out to be someone who committed such an evil crime?

In the suicide journal, Zack listed out his failures. He said that he felt like a failure with his friends, with the military, in marriage and in love. He always fell short. So when Addie kicked him out, ultimately ending their relationship because he had revealed an aspect of himself, his bisexuality, he snapped. Years of rage all focussed on Addie, because she knew him through and through – and he fell short again. The thin line between love and hate disappeared as he mutilated the body of the woman whom he loved more than anyone else.

Rampart Street will always be associated with the horrific murder that took place in its centre. The Voodoo Spirit Temple is colloquially known as the Rampart Street Murder House. This is perhaps not down everyone’s street, but it is interesting to note that house has since been reported as being heavily haunted and permeated with weird situations, like a ceiling fan turning when there is no electricity on, or sounds of moaning and the sense of a physical presence. Even in the time Addie & Zack lived there, it must have been haunted. Whether that is true or not, it remains a bit of a creepy place. In February 2016 an electrical fire destroyed the building. It still stands, and spirit hunters visit it, hoping to connect with thise who have passed, desperate to ask one last question: Why?

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