Murdered in Miami: Who Killed Jim Bowerman?
With no motive and no suspects, his murder remains unsolved after more than a decade.
When he was growing up in Lansing, Michigan, Jim Bowerman always told his mother he wanted to be a ski bum. When he reached adulthood, however, he realized that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life living in a cold climate. He moved to California when he was 21 years old; he loved the warm weather and beach bum culture, but ultimately decided living there was too expensive. He headed west to Las Vegas, where he still enjoyed warmer temperatures but missed being near the beach. In April 2007, he moved across the country to North Miami, Florida.
Life in Florida was good. Jim had his own apartment and worked as a waiter at a nearby Chili’s Grill & Bar. He was friendly and easy-going, which made him popular with his co-workers. Jim had a lot of friends in Florida, but his girlfriend lived in Nevada and he missed her. In 2008, he made plans to move back to Las Vegas. He let his boss and his landlord know that he would be leaving the third week in April. He would never get the chance.
Jim worked at Chili’s on April 10, 2008. At some point during his shift, one of his co-workers told him she was having a party that night at the home she shared with her boyfriend. It was just an informal gathering, and she told Jim he was welcome to stop by. After leaving work, Jim visited with a male co-worker for a while and then went to a local bar before finally driving to the home where the party was taking place. By the time Jim was ready to call it a night, it was nearly sunrise. His co-worker told him he could stay at her home if he didn’t want to make the drive home, but Jim declined. He wanted to sleep in his own bed.
Jim wasn’t very familiar with the area of Miami where his co-worker lived. He got lost several times on his drive home and had to call her and ask for directions. Once he was back in familiar territory, he phoned his girlfriend in Las Vegas. He was still on the phone with her when he pulled into the parking lot of his apartment building. He sat in the car chatting with her for a few minutes, then his girlfriend told him she needed to get off the phone but would call him back within the hour. Jim hung up with her and entered his apartment building. It was 7:10 am. Jim had less than an hour to live.
Jim’s girlfriend tried to call him back at 7:59 am. Although she thought it was odd that he didn’t answer, she knew he had been up all night and figured he might have fallen asleep as soon as he got home. She tried him periodically throughout the day, but his phone just rang endlessly. She was worried, but didn’t want to overreact. Perhaps Jim had picked up an extra shift at the restaurant, or maybe his phone needed to be charged.
Jim was not scheduled to work that day, but had made plans with a co-worker to go shopping that afternoon. His co-worker arrived at the apartment at 1:00 pm, and noticed that Jim’s car was parked in the lot as usual. When his repeated knocks at Jim’s door went unanswered, he wasn’t particularly worried. Assuming Jim had decided to sleep late, he went shopping without him.
No one heard from Jim that night, but he had no pre-arranged plans and no one was expecting a call from him. By the next morning, however, his girlfriend was growing increasingly worried. Her calls were still going unanswered, and she could no longer think of any rational reason for Jim to be out of touch for so long. She reached out to one of Jim’s co-workers and asked if he would drive to Jim’s apartment to check on him. The co-worker found Jim’s car still parked in his assigned parking place, but he got no answer when he knocked on the door. Although concerned, he knew that Jim was scheduled to work that afternoon, so he decided to wait and see if he showed up. 3:00pm came and went with no sign of Jim.
When Jim failed to show up for his scheduled shift at Chili’s, his co-workers knew something had to be seriously wrong. Jim had a reputation for always being on time and never calling out of work. For him to simply not show up was completely out of character. When Jim’s manager learned that no one had been able to reach Jim, he was concerned enough to call the police and ask them to do a welfare check.
When she found out Jim hadn’t gone to work, his girlfriend panicked. Desperate for answers, she started calling hospitals in the Miami area. Jim wasn’t in any of them. Unsure what else she could do, she called Jim’s mother, Joanne Lore. Joanne immediately called the police department in North Miami, unaware that Jim’s manager had already called them.
Police arrived at Jim’s apartment at 7:00 pm and found the back door slightly ajar. They cautiously entered and made their way through the apartment to the living room. They walked into a bloodbath. Jim’s body was found on the floor by his front door, lying in a large pool of blood. The young man had been stabbed to death; several detectives said it was one of the most gruesome crime scenes they had ever seen. The murder weapon was not located, indicating that the killer had taken it with them. The only clue left behind was a bloody shoe print, most likely from a Nike Air Force One shoe.
Despite an intense investigation, police have no idea why Jim would have been targeted for murder. They do not believe robbery was a motive. He had no known enemies and didn’t live a high-risk lifestyle. Friends told police that he had always been careful about keeping his apartment locked, even when he was home. Jim had no criminal record whatsoever, and detectives found nothing in his past that made him a likely candidate for murder.
Detectives canvassed the neighborhood, but no one had heard or seen anything unusual. Jim’s neighbors didn’t know him well, but told police he was a pleasant young man who never caused any trouble. Much of his time was spent at work, and he wasn’t the type to throw loud parties.
It did not appear that the killer had to force his way into the apartment. Detectives theorized that the killer had knocked at Jim’s front door, most likely shortly after Jim had returned to his apartment after leaving his co-worker’s party. The front door was locked, indicating Jim had likely allowed the visitor into the apartment willingly, then locked the front door behind him out of habit. It appeared Jim had been ambushed shortly after allowing the person into this apartment. The killer then left the apartment through the back door, leaving it slightly ajar. The apartment was not in disarray and it didn’t look like any of Jim’s belongings were missing, so robbery did not appear to be a motive in the murder.
Jim’s friends and family were completely stunned when they learned he had been killed. He was a popular and friendly young man with no known enemies, and no one could fathom why he would have been targeted for murder. A few friends mentioned that Jim was very charismatic and many women found him attractive, and they speculated that perhaps a jealous boyfriend might have had reason to go after Jim. Police looked into this theory, but were unable to find anyone who might have had a problem with Jim.
Jim had been extremely close to his mother, Joanne, and his older sister, Julia. They had always referred to themselves as “The Three J’s” and his loss devastated the remaining two members of what had always been a trio. The fact that police were unable to come up with a motive or any suspects in the murder made it even harder for his family to come to terms with his death. A month after Jim was killed, his family, along with police, made a public plea for information in the case. They believed that there was likely someone in the area who had knowledge about what had taken place, and they begged them to come forward. They announced that there was a $5,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Jim’s murder.
Although detectives worked tirelessly to solve the case, they received few tips and were never able to develop any substantial leads. The investigation soon stalled, then went cold. They were never able to determine a motive for the crime, and countless interviews with Jim’s friends, family, and associates failed to yield information about anyone with a possible reason to dislike Jim. Despite this, detectives still believe the case can be solved if a person who knows what happened that night will finally come forward to share this information with police.
Jim’s family has never stopped mourning Jim’s loss, and they have organized a “Justice for Jim” campaign to make sure the public doesn’t forget that his horrendous murder has never been solved. There is still a $5,000 reward for information being offered through Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers, and all calls will be kept confidential. Anyone who knows anything about the murder is encouraged to call them at 305–471–8477 or 866–471–8477.