LEESBURG, Va. — A 21-year-old Loudoun County man who told a high school friend he “needed a human sacrifice” two days before he allegedly shot his father and set their home on fire in 2017 will enter a plea to avoid trial, WTOP has learned.
Michael Bowles was indicted on seven counts, including first-degree murder. He’s accused of fatally shooting his father, Mario, in their Lucketts home and setting it on fire to conceal the crime on July 25, 2017.
Court records indicate Bowles will enter the plea Feb. 25, ahead of the previously scheduled 10-day trial in May.
Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman and defense attorney Ryan Campbell declined to provide specifics of the charges to which Bowles would enter a plea.
Bowles is currently facing at least three life terms, his attorney has said.
On the day of the fire, Michael, Mario and Michael’s mother, Evelyn, were supposed to meet with Michael’s psychiatrist, but father and son never showed up.
“Evelyn Bowles would leave the psychiatrist’s office and return home to find her home in flames and husband and child missing,” Campbell wrote in a June court motion.
“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.
Bowles’ attorney told the court: “The defendant’s sanity will be a significant factor in his defense.”
Bowles’ mental health was a focal point of pretrial hearings. Psychiatrist Sabah Hadi, who has been subpoenaed to testify in Bowles’ trial, testified he diagnosed Bowles as a high-functioning schizophrenic in 2014.
However, he told a district judge that Bowles resisted taking his medications, which resulted in delusions, hallucinations and fights with his parents.
Court records show Bowles underwent psychiatric testing at the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia — a facility that his attorney had suggested.
The findings of the testing are sealed in the court file.
Forensic evidence indicated that the shirt worn by Mario Bowles and the home’s carpet had gasoline on them. Prosecutors alleged Michael Bowles used the gas as an accelerant when setting the fire.
In addition to murder, Bowles was indicted on a charge of using 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.