Joseph Bowens Charged with Murder, Robbery in Shooting of Drury Inn & Suites Manager

Jan 20, 2015 at 6:00 am
click to enlarge A still from surveillance footage showing the man who murdered Drury Inn and Suites manager Scott Knopfel. - SLMPD
A still from surveillance footage showing the man who murdered Drury Inn and Suites manager Scott Knopfel.

When your own mother turns you over to the cops, you know your case is looking bleak.

Joseph Bernard Bowens, 43, is in police custody on murder and robbery charges stemming from the shooting of Drury Inn and Suites night manager Scott Knopfel in one of five separate shootings in thirteen hours that killed six people in St. Louis last week.

See also: Homicides No. 3-8: 6 Dead, 3 Injured in 19 Bloody Hours of Shootings in St. Louis

Two Missouri police departments and Bowens' own mother say they recognized Bowens in the surveillance footage of the Drury shooting, which St. Louis Metropolitan Police publicly released Thursday. Bowens has a criminal record of guns, drugs and robbery convictions stretching back to 1997.

click to enlarge Another still from the security footage. - SLMPD
Another still from the security footage.

The charging documents tell the story of the final minutes of Knopfel's life.

Bowens arrived at the Drury Inn and Suites on Hampton Avenue just before 3 a.m. Thursday morning, according to police. He went to the front desk, where Knopfel was working as the night manager, and the two men talked for a full minute. Bowens then pulled a revolver from his pants and hopped over the front desk.

Bowens made Knopfel open a drawer that contained U.S. currency and stole money from it, leaving only change behind, police said.

Bowens then shot Knopfel in the chest, according to police accounts of surveillance footage not released to the public. A struggle ensued, ending when Bowens shot Knopfel in the head and killed him. Bowens then fled out the hotel's front doors.

When police arrived at the Drury Inn and Suites at 2:55 a.m. Thursday, they found Knopfel dead behind the desk with two gunshot wounds.

See also: First Suspect Charged with Murder After Bloody Night of Homicides in St. Louis

St. Louis police released footage of the gunman entering and leaving the hotel on Thursday, and both the Caruthersville Police Department and the Poplar Bluff Police Department identified him as Bowens, who lives in Poplar Bluff.

Police arrested Bowens with the help of the Poplar Bluff Police and searched his home, where investigators found some clothing, including a leather jacket, that resembles the clothing seen on the suspect in surveillance footage of the shooting. A GPS trace of Bowens' phone shows that he was near the hotel during the shooting.

Police also interviewed Bowens' mother, who told investigators she believes the gunman in the surveillance footage of the shooting is her son.

Bowens is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and first-degree robbery. If convicted, he'll add to an already-lengthy rap sheet:

-May 1997: Bowens was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance in Boone County.

-June 2000: Bowens was convicted of third-degree assault in Jackson County.

-October 2002: Bowens was convicted of first-degree tampering in Pemiscot County.

-June 2006: Bowens was convicted of passing a bad check for less than $500 in Pemiscot County.

-June 2009: Bowens was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and put on supervised release. He violated supervised release twice.

-January 2010: Bowens was convicted of second-degree robbery, a DWI felony, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance in a jail without a prescription in Mississippi County.

Bowens is currently in jail on a $500,000 cash only bond.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].