‘Human sacrifice’ cited in likely insanity defense in Loudoun Co. murder

LEESBURG, Va. — A 20-year-old Loudoun County man told a friend he “needed a human sacrifice” two days before he allegedly shot his father and set their home on fire, according to the defendant’s lawyer.

Michael Bowles was indicted on seven counts, including first-degree murder, after prosecutors said he fatally shot his father, Mario, in July 2017, then set fire to their family home to conceal the crime.

In a motion to evaluate his client’s mental health at the time of the crime, Bowles’ attorney, Ryan Campbell, said “the defendant’s sanity will be a significant factor in his defense.”

Prosecutors say Bowles’ DNA evidence was found on his Savage Arms Stevens 320 shotgun, which he purchased one year earlier from a Facebook friend.

On the day of the fire, Michael, Mario and Michael’s mother, Evelyn, were supposed to meet with Michael’s psychiatrist, but the father and son never showed up.

“Evelyn Bowles would leave the psychiatrist’s office and return home to find her home in flames and her husband and child missing,” Campbell wrote in the court document.

“Michael had communicated with a high-school friend two days earlier, and had said he needed a human sacrifice to bring about the resurrection of Christ,” according to the defense motion.

In pretrial hearings, psychiatrist Sabah Hadi testified he diagnosed Bowles as a high-functioning schizophrenic in 2014. However, Bowles resisted taking his medication, which resulted in delusions, hallucinations, and fights with his parents, Hadi testified.

Forensic evidence presented earlier by prosecutors indicated the shirt worn by Mario Bowles, and carpet in the home, had gasoline on them. Prosecutors said Michael Bowles used the gas as an accelerant when setting the house on fire.

Campbell’s motion said he is facing at least three life terms.

In addition to murder, Bowles was indicted on a charge of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony; shooting or stabbing in the commission of a felony; arson; concealing a dead body; maliciously shooting or throwing missiles, and the use of a sawed-off shotgun in a crime.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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