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Ronald Bower Has Spent 20 Years In Prison For Crimes Many Believe He Didn’t Commit


Waves of Mutilation

On May 8, 1991, a police sketch appeared in several New York City newspapers depicting a man who raped two teenage girls, 13 and 14, on a rooftop in Queens May 1. Accompanying it was a description of the suspect: white, about 30 years old, 5-feet, 7-inches tall with a thick moustache, medium build and medium-length dark-brown hair.

Before long, two calls came in to the Queens sex crimes unit identifying Bower as the person in the sketch, according to court papers. One came from a nearby gym, from a man, Huff tells the Press, who had had a previous altercation with Bower. The other call was made by Bower’s ex-father in law, Detective James Smith, Huff and court papers say, a retiree who had been arguing with Bower over an incident he had had with his daughter at the time.


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Based on the sketch and the tips [and with Navarra, the Queens investigator, on vacation in Italy], Ron Bower was arrested by Fogarty—who Huff says was being forced out at the time due to an alcohol problem—photographed and put in a lineup. That set off a chain reaction of events that eventually led to Bower being tried and convicted for the two Silver Gun Rapist incidents, according to court documents.

When Huff and Hughes began investigating the origin of the sketch five years later, in addition to discovering that one of the allegations was bogus, they made several other disturbing finds regarding Bower’s then-snowballing plight.

“The crime never happened. There was no two girls accosted on the rooftop. The picture mysteriously appeared in the paper and the paperwork on the crime got lost,” Huff explains. “The girls recanted the story, they had skipped school and they didn’t want to get in trouble, so they claimed this happened. So I said, ‘How do you come up with a photograph? Or a composite?’ I think it was Detective Smith that supplied the police department with a wedding photo of his son-in-law.”

But it didn’t matter whether the story was made up or not. The sketch was the basis to bring Bower in, contends Goldberg. And once there, Bower was placed in lineups for victims of the Pattern #1/91 Silver Gun Rapist attacks—and police made him replace his security guard uniform with a hooded sweatshirt similar to what the victims described their assailant as wearing, says Huff.

Devastated: Ronald Bower's oldest daughter, Kristy, and his mother Margaret react to a judge's 2005 decision against reversing his convictions. (Jerry Martin/Long Island Press)

“Some of the women that were accosted claim they were accosted by a guy wearing a sweatshirt,” he adds. “So he goes into a lineup with the sweatshirt, they call Nassau County to bring in this woman and she says, ‘It’s the guy in the sweatshirt.’”

As if things couldn’t get worse, Bower was identified as the assailant by the victims of three Pattern #1/91 sex attacks, known as Incidents A, B and C in court papers; two in Queens, one in Nassau.

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