A 22-year-old Loudoun County, Virginia, man who admitted to murdering his father after telling a friend he “needed a human sacrifice” was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences Wednesday.
“I don’t know if you’re a schizophrenic or a sociopath,” Circuit Judge Jeanette A. Irby said to Michael Bowles, who has a history of mental illness.
Back in February, Bowles pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and one count of arson in connection with the July 2017 death of father Mario Bowles and the subsequent fire of their Lucketts home.
On the day of the crimes, the Bowles, including Michael Bowles’ parents, were supposed to meet with Michael Bowles’ psychiatrist, but the father and son didn’t show up. The mother returned to find the family home ablaze.
Firefighters recovered Mario Bowles’ body inside; Michael Bowles was arrested less than a day later, 2 miles away. Gunshot residue was found on his hands.
He admitted to shooting his father three times, then pouring gasoline on the body and setting fire to it, authorities said.
In pretrial hearings, a psychiatrist testified that Michael Bowles had been diagnosed as a high-functioning schizophrenic years earlier. But he resisted medication, the doctor said, resulting in delusions, hallucinations and fights with his parents.
According to a defense motion, Michael Bowles told a friend two days before the murder that he needed a human sacrifice “to bring about the resurrection of Christ.”
On Wednesday, the judge told him he had “no rehabilitative potential.”
“Sometimes parents fail, and it’s not through their own actions, but because the person they’re trying to save doesn’t want to be saved — and that’s you,” Irby told him. “We have to protect the rest of the community from children like you.”
Other members of the family testified at Wednesday’s sentencing, including Mario Bowles’ mother, Pia Bowles. “My heart is gone. He was my heart,” she said.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy McMullen described the victim as a father who didn’t give up on his son.
“Instead of returning his father’s love, he extinguished his life,” she said.