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Nov. 24, 2022

Ep. 111: Graveyard Love - Zack Bowen & the Murder of Addie Hall

Ep. 111: Graveyard Love - Zack Bowen & the Murder of Addie Hall

New Orleans, one year post Hurricane Katrina.

A man is found dead after jumping from the roof of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. In his pocket is a note directing police to go back to his apartment. There, the note says, they'll find the dismembered body of Addie Hall.

The police had no idea the kind of scene they were about to find.

The inside of 826 North Rampart Street on October 17th, 2006 was nothing short of nightmares. But what drove the man, identified as Zackery "Zack" Bowen, to kill the woman he said he loved, and then himself?

Carrie dives into this tragic tale, one intertwined with the horrors of the Iraq War, the trauma of Hurricane Katrina, and the failures of the government in both instances that may have pushed a man off the precipice of madness. Tread lightly: this is a gruesome, devastating story.


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I got back into true crime around the time I graduated college in 2012. I had been very into true crime as a kid - yes, weirdly enough. I loved watching real forensics shows in late elementary school and early middle school. I even had had interest in being a forensic scientist as a kid, before I realized that I was bad at all the math and science stuff that would require. But I didn’t keep on top of the interest for a while until the end of my time at college. See, at the same time I was wrapping up my senior year, bodies were being found just minutes away from my school near Jones Beach in Long Island…bodies that would soon be attributed to the Long Island Serial Killer, who remains unidentified now 10 years later. We would drive by the area late at night, and see the crime scene tape still up from the ongoing investigation, and feel eerier than we ever did in Long Island’s famous haunted places. Because this we knew was real, and whoever had done these awful crimes was still out there. Waiting.

I think that experience pushed me back into the true crime sphere, and clearly, I never left. But I preface with this backstory because today I am taking us down a dark road into one of the first crimes I became very interested in that summer after graduation, and one that hasn’t left my mind since. And, unlike the Jack the Ripper killings or the Manson murders, this is one that many people don’t know about. Today, I’ll be telling the story of Zackery Bowen and Addie Hall, and how their relationship ended in terrible horror and tragedy.

I first heard of the story from a short-lived TV show called Final Witness, which was actually very well-made for a true crime show. It only lasted for a season, which I assume was because of the conceit of the show - each episode was narrated by the victim. It wasn’t disrespectfully done, in my opinion, but I could understand why people would be offended. I had never heard of Zack & Addie’s case before, but it captured my attention so deeply I immediately began researching it myself.

This is a story very intertwined with New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, and one that is still very fresh in the hearts of locals and family members. So I’m going to be covering this as respectfully as possible, as that’s always important to us. My main source for this episode will be the definitive book so far about the case, Shake the Devil Off by Ethan Brown. I will also reference television documentary episodes on the case. Be forewarned: this is a gruesome crime, and terribly sad, and it’s an event that has had far-reaching consequences in NOLA since. 

For this one, I will begin at the end - October 17th, 2006. 

A man’s body is found on the roof of the parking garage of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. A hotel guest had seen the man fall from the area of the La Riviera rooftop pool bar at the Omni and frantically called down to the front desk, who then called 911. It was immediately designated a suicide, and the responding police weren’t too surprised. Suicides were common in New Orleans during this post-Katrina time, but it did seem a little strange that the victim had done so at such a bougie hotel.

The man had fallen 5 stories to the roof, but despite blood pouring from his mouth and head and some twisted limbs, it wasn’t as brutal a scene as the police were usually used to with jumpers. In the man’s front pocket a Ziploc bag was found containing army dog tags bearing the name Zackery Bowen and a folded sheet of paper reading FOR POLICE ONLY on the outside. This was presumed to be a suicide note. The coroner’s office investigator read it out loud: 

“This is not accidental. I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took. If you send a patrol to 226 North Rampart you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge along with full documentation on the both of us and a full signed confession from myself. The keys in my right front pocket are for the gates. Call Leo Watermeier to let you in. Zack Bowen.”

The detectives were…well, pretty shocked. They rushed to the address written and got a hold of Leo Watermeier, the landlord, who let them in to the one-bedroom apartment about a block down the street from where he himself lived. The apartment was on the 2nd floor of a building whose ground level was occupied by the Voodoo Spiritual Temple. When they made it inside the apartment, even the note that Zack had written could not have prepared them for what they found. 

It was freezing in the place, as apparently Zack had left the window unit air conditioner on blasting at 60 degrees. The place was messy from the job, with cigarettes and beer cans scattered across the floor. Messages were spray painted across the walls, like “PLEASE CALL MY WIFE”, “I LOVE HER”, “I’M A TOTAL FAILURE”, and most ominously, “LOOK IN THE OVEN”. One message spray painted on the ceiling above the bed simply read, “PLEASE HELP ME STOP THE PAIN.”

They dealt with the oven message first, following a silver arrow spray painted on the stovetop range pointing downward to the oven door. When the door was opened, the horror truly began: inside were small human legs, stuffed into a tinfoil turkey pan. They were charred black from being cooked. Detectives then went to the stovetop, which bore some large lidded cooking pots. I’m sure at this point they knew what they would find, but still had to open them. Inside one was a woman’s head - and inside the other was hands and feet. The last step was to open the fridge, which inside held a legless and armless torso in a bloodstained black garbage bag. The lead detective told author Ethan Brown, “None of the cops who were on the scene had ever seen anything this disturbing. In fact, we all had to take breaks outside the apartment that night. WHat we were seeing was inconceivable. It was like we were living inside a movie. It was just that eerie.” The body would soon be identified as being that of Addie Hall.

How could something so horrifying happen? What would drive any person to do something so unspeakable to someone they ostensibly loved?

Well, now, we go back to the beginning, first to the life of Zackery Bowen.


Zack was born in California, to parents that divorced when he was still young. After a turbulent youth being a bit of an outsider in school, Zack dropped out during the second half of his high school senior year and moved to Washington, to live with his father, Jack. They set off on a cross-country road trip at the beginning of 1996, charting a path through some of the biggest party cities in America like Savannah Georgia and Fort Lauderdale Florida. Their final stop would be in New Orleans. Jack was more than a bro than a dad, so he figured they could party together and spend some quality time during this trip. And in New Orleans, Jack planned on setting down roots for a few months to really take advantage of this time with Zack. Zack, however, was now all grown up, nearly 6 foot 10 inches and quite handsome. He began to attract attention from girls and even gay men as well, especially in the French Quarter bars he frequented. In the summer of 1996 Zack began a job serving go-cups of cocktails from a bar window, and it was here 18 year old Zack Bowen met 28 year old Lana Shupack. Lana was from Texas, and worked as an erotic dancer - but right now, she was on a girls vacation. They dated during her time there, and once she made it back to Dallas Zack began to call, begging her to return. She did a few weeks later, and they dated throughout the fall until Lana found out he was only 18 years old, which came as a shock because he was bartending, which usually required a minimum age of 21. She attempted to break things off, but found out she was unexpectedly pregnant with Zack’s child in early 1997. She told him about the pregnancy in early March, and Zack, still being a teenager, was understandably conflicted. In a letter he wrote his mother that month, he stated, “This is the letter informing you of my unexpected venture into fatherhood. I’ve made quite a few errors in my past and this is one of the biggest I’ve had to deal with. But, this is what I get for being young and stupid…After hours of pleading defenses such as, I’m too young, I don’t want to father this child, and why not wait for someone who shares the same feelings as you, she was still unmoved, and much to my dismay. She is a 28 year old ex-stripper (as of now) who I regret ever meeting…I’m going to stay in New Orleans until the child is born and see it through part of its infancy but in no way will I be its daddy.”

Pretty brutal stuff, but again, remember, he was only a kid himself.

Lana and Zack’s son, Jaxon, was born in July of 1997. Zack met his son a few weeks after the birth, and as soon as he did, he was all in on fatherhood. He officially began a relationship with Lana soon after, and got a bartending job at the Pontchartrain Hotel that provided health benefits for the family. He proposed to Lana, and they married in October 1998, with Lana being pregnant with their second child. Their daughter, Lily, was born in June of 1998, and Zack’s older brother Jed suggested he enlist in the army to make something more of his life. After earning his high school degree from a GED program in March 2000, he soon headed to the army recruiting station on Dauphine Street to sign up.

Now, 2000 wasn’t, um, a good year to enlist in the army. It may have seemed a pretty safe job, with both the Cold War and Gulf War being past, but it was about to get much more serious. 

First, Zack was sent to Kosovo, to assist with peacekeeping efforts in the area. This forced Zack to experience his first horrors of war, including uncovering mass graves and experiencing near brushes with death. One day, he gave a few pieces of candy to a young Albanian girl as a small act of kindness - only to find out the next day that she had been killed by the Serbs because she had interacted with an American. Him. After this incident, Zack became much more withdrawn during his tour. 

Eventually, he returned to his base in Germany, and Lana, Jaxon, and Lily moved out to join him in family housing that August. Lana found the transition especially hard, compounded by Zack’s fellow soldiers knowing about her stripper past, and her not fitting in with the other army wives. She eventually came up with her own routine with the kids, and was finally beginning to settle in by the time September 2001 rolled around.

And here is where things get more serious. 

On September 11th, as we know, the United States was hit with a terrorist attack, and everything changed - for everyone, of course, and especially for the Bowens. By fall of the next year, there was no doubt that Zack would soon be shipped to Iraq, and he was in early 2003, with an initial stop in Kuwait. Almost immediately the platoon encountered gunfire, bombs, and a blurring of the line between soldier and civilian that no one had prepared them for. The big wars were fought between 2 sides wearing uniforms and following vague rules - but there were no uniforms in Baghdad, no rules. Baghdad itself fell to coalition forces in April, and the Hussein regime was toppled. But the company now had a new mission: set up police stations and train the Iraqi police force in the major cities. 

The soldiers of the 527th lived in a palace formerly owned by one of Saddam Hussein’s vice presidents, situated on the outskirts of Baghdad. When the soldiers were bored, Zack would play guitar for them on the back patio. The group was initially optimistic, but as Iraq’s oppressive summer set in, reality did as well. One of Zack’s brothers in arms told Ethan Brown, “When you stood right in front of the Iraqis, they loved you…but when you turned around, it was another story.” Meanwhile, Lana was dealing with a life-threatening case of Hepatitis C, and after a short visit back to be with her, Zack’s superiors began to refuse him leave even as doctors reported that his wife could be dying. 

Insurgent attacks steeply increased, with multiple platoon soldiers being sent home with critical injuries from IUDs. In October, Zack’s close platoon friend Rachel Bosveld was killed in a mortar attack, one of the first female military police officers to die in combat in Iraq, and the first from the 527th. Zack’s father in law, Carl Shupack, would later say “Losing the girl from his company, that was very painful for Zack. That was a turning point.” All on top of his fears that his wife would die while he was still deployed, and another loss around that time  - Zack had become friendly with a young Iraqi boy whose family owned a small shop across the street from one of the police stations in Baghdad. The boy would bring Zack cans of Coke and bags of ice from the store, and in return, Zack taught him English. Staff Sergeant Larry Berreman reflected that Zack had forged such a strong relationship with the child because he felt like it was a good deed that would possibly make him overcome his increasing opposition to the war and his own part in it. Tragically, in September, the shop was blown up by insurgents, possibly due to their friendliness with the Americans. The little boy and his entire family were killed. After this loss, the death of Rachel, and Lana’s health problems, Zack was finally done. He fully withdrew into himself. The 527th arrived back in Germany that November, though one of Zack’s platoon buddies admitted, “Iraq was in the exact same place when we arrived, if not worse. I felt like it was all going to hell in a handbasket.” Zack was possibly even more disillusions, and came back a different person than the one who had left. Before the war he had been talkative, gregarious, charismatic - but now he was quiet, withdrawn, and brooding. He began to obsess on his feelings that the war was an unjust one, that all of their personal losses had been in vain, that the military hadn’t even let him go back home when everyone thought his wife was on her deathbed. He was experiencing frequent severe headaches, an early indicator of the onset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. He was short of breath, wheezed and coughed at night, developed a rash and terrible shoulder and back pain. In the spring of 2004, Zack began to fail his Army Physical Fitness Tests, which would periodically check on the soldiers’ physical performance. By the fall, he had failed many of the tests, and began to be removed by the military under Chapter 13: Unsatisfactory Performance. He was recommended for an honorable discharge by his company commander, which is what usually goes through in these cases. But not for Zack. A different colonel recommended Zack receive a general (under honorable conditions) discharge, which meant a profound difference in the benefits he would now be eligible for. Many soldiers in Zack’s case would lose benefits like home loan guarantees, life insurance, and disability and education benefits. For Zack not to receive an honorable discharge was incredibly out of the ordinary - he had served honorably in Kosovo and Iraq, and had caused no disciplinary problems, earning numerous medals, badges, and commendations. The failed physical tests were the only taint on his record.

Zack, likely out of shame, attempted to lie to Lana about the exact circumstances of his discharge, sparking a huge argument between them. Lana told Zack, “We’re done,” and flew back to New Orleans, leaving the children with Zack in Germany because they were in a good Department of Defense school. She began to see an old friend of hers, and they separated, though did not divorce. Zack and the children moved back to New Orleans in December 2004, and he lived with Lana and the family until he was able to get on his feet. He began tending bar at Hog’s Bar in the French Quarter.

As Ethan Brown noted, “everything that could have gone wrong went wrong during Zack’s transition from combat soldier to civilian. The tragic result: Zack, a combat soldier with documented post deployment mental health symptoms, was mercilessly kicked to the curb by the military.” This would be a dark sign of what was to come. 

After the break we’ll get into the life of Adrianne “Addie” Hall, and the events that brought her into Zack Bowen’s life…and each other to a tragic end.




Addie Hall, diminutive, blonde, and eccentric, was raised in Durham, North Carolina, by a Vietnam vet father and homemaker mother. She dropped out of high school and traveled around the country, living life on the road and crashing on friends’ couches. She made it back to Durham in the late 90s, but eventually moved to New Orleans in 2002 after enjoying partying there during Carnival season. A former roommate said of Addie, “she was a survivalist, a hustler…Her attitude was, ‘What can I do to make my rent this month?’” She waitressed, bartended, worked as a maid. And, unfortunately, when she drank too much, she tended to lash out at those around her, including incidents where she called close gay male friends the f-word when inebriated. Her volatility was made more concerning by the company she kept, like cocaine dealers and sleazy tourists and rough, abusive boyfriends. One man beat her so badly after she caught him masturbating to gay porn that she was left with a broken shoulder. Addie herself was becoming involved in bar fights and doing drugs, like coke. Some friends were alienating themselves from Addie, but others, as Brown writes, “understood that friendship with Addie could be wonderful and strange - you just had to get out of her way when she went into one of her spells.” These “spells” were likely untreated bipolar disorder, which would throw her into both dark moods and euphoric mania with wild abandon. She would confide in a romantic partner that she had been sexually abused as a child, with such extreme trauma that she had been hospitalized when she was 13. 

Addie was 29 when she met Zack Bowen at the Hog’s Bar in 2005. She was the next bartender on after Zack’s graveyard shift, and was annoyed at the other female bartenders, who fawned over him. This annoyance transferred over to him, in kind of a playground rivalry - where she found him to be an oversize frat boy type, he was instantly attracted to her, seeing her as an idealization of his idea of French Quarter bohemia. Zack began to hang out at the Hog’s long after his shift ended, trying to get to know Addie better. Initially she was reluctant, but as the summer went on, they became closer, and she revealed more and more of her true self to him. By August of 2005, she was introducing Zack as her new boyfriend - and the pair certainly turned heads, with their eccentric vibes and enormous height difference of almost 2 feet. 

By the end of August, a storm was brewing, and maybe in more ways than one.

On the afternoon of August 27th, 2005, New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin urged the city’s citizens to evacuate due to a powerful hurricane being predicted to directly hit NOLA. The evacuation was not mandatory (though it should’ve been), but many residents fled the city in panic. Lana phoned Zack and begged him to come to where she and the kids were living to safely ride out the storm, but he refused, unfazed. “I’m gonna stay here with Addie,” he said. Even when Lana offered to have Addie come as well, he wouldn’t budge. 

The next day, the hurricane - Katrina - was upgraded to a Category 4, and then again to a Category 5 hurricane. This is the highest designation on the Hurricane Wind Scale, where catastrophic damage is estimated to occur. Mandatory evacuation was ordered. 

Now, what happens next - and during the whole of Hurricane Katrina - might deserve an episode all its own. They were going to even make a season of American Crime Story about it, that’s how bad things were. Many of us listening who are millennials or younger were kids at the time, and may not realize just how bad things got. But “catastrophic” is the right word. So I can’t detail it all now, other than in this small way framing a more specific story. But, I’ll do my best to give proper context.

After the mandatory evacuation, hundreds of thousands of cars poured out of metropolitan New Orleans to flee the storm. Many poor residents, however, stayed behind, deterred by lack of transport or funds. These are the invisible victims of these kinds of natural disasters. No one realized just how bad things were going to get - and Zack and Addie were among several in their group of friends that decided to hunker down and ride the storm out in the French Quarter.

Zack and Addie holed up in her apartment with a large supply of liquor, beer, and ice from Hog’s Bar. At approximate 6am on Monday, August 29th, Katrina made landfall, clocking 145-mile-an-hour winds. 2 hours later, Mayor Nagin reported that water had begun to flow over the levee, or an overflow embankment, in the Black working class area of the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. Then other levees began to breech, sending several feet of water flooding into the streets. University of California Professor of Civil Engineering Raymond Seed called it “one of the two most costly failures of engineered systems in history, rivaled only by the Chernobyl meltdown.” That’s how disastrous these levee failures were.

However, the New Orleans neighborhoods built on higher ground, like the French Quarter was, were not affected. Mass power and communications outages cut off different neighborhoods from other areas, leaving those in them trapped, or completely ignorant to what was happening to others. Law enforcement and government officials had completely abandoned the area during the evacuation. Those in the French Quarter couldn’t see the full extent of the damage. Destruction was visible, but manageable: uprooted trees, roof damage, downed lines and that sort of thing. They couldn’t see the horrors of the Ninth Ward, the bodies floating in the streets, the absolutely gutted homes. 

So instead of evacuating even after the worst of the winds, when many others who stayed during the storm did upon running out of food and water, Zack and Addie stayed at their French Quarter apartment. They embraced the survivalist life, making campfires, cleaning the trash and tree limbs that littered the streets, downing cocktails in the evenings and even hosting impromptu dinner gatherings for the other stay-behinds.

They would warm canned food over the fire, listened to music on a battery-powered boombox, and even make love right in the middle of the street in the French Quarter during the sleepy early morning hours. What was a hell for many others became, for Zack and Addie, a kind of bizarre paradise where they were allowed to be themselves without the constraints of society, of family expectations, and of finances. It was an entirely new world, they were falling in love, and it became sort of magical for them. As one of their compatriots noted, post-hurricane survival life “was hard work but they enjoyed the lifestyle of not having to go to work…it was right up their alley.” 

This sort of eccentrically romantic scene became ripe fodder for the reporters now descending on the area to document the destruction. Local, state, and federal government assistance to New Orleans was criminally low in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and with no law enforcement in sight, looters began to roam the streets. The French Quarter holdouts banded together against these outside influences. The Associated Press wrote of them in September, describing how they were proud of their ability to overcome the lack of electricity and hot water, and of each other for representing the best of the city. Zack told a reporter from the Mobile Register, “It’s actually been kind of nice…and I’m getting healthier, eating right and toning up.” The story characterized Zack and Addie as inventive, cheery DIYers. They made it onto the front page of the New York Times, in an article headlined “Holdouts on Dry Ground Say Why Leave Now?” 

“Some holdouts seem intent on keeping alive the distinct and wild spirit of this city. In the French Quarter, Addie Hall and Zackery Bowen found a unusual way to make sure that police officers regularly patrolled their house. Ms. Hall, 28, a bartender, flashed her breasts at the police vehicles that passed by, ensuring a regular flow of traffic.”

But it wasn’t all campfires and sunshine. They often biked by a corpse stuffed into a shopping cart when they ventured out of the Quarter, and Addie was almost raped during one looting session at a store. The military began to arrive in the city, the sight of which triggered Zack’s PTSD. On September 6th, Mayor Nagin signed a “Promulgation of Emergency Order” directing the New Orleans police, fire department, and the US military to “compel the evacuation of all persons from the city of New Orleans, regardless of whether such holdouts are on private property or do not desire to leave.” Zack and Addie, along with many of their friends, openly defied these orders. Then the evacuees began to return, and many of the holdouts, including Zack and Addie, began to view these encroachers with disdain. Residents were officially allowed to return on September 19th. One acquaintance stated, “They hated it when people started coming back. They hated everybody from the Katrina sightseers to people who hadn’t survived the hurricane there and were making their way home. They liked the lifestyle we had during the hurricane…they liked camping out. They liked not having to work. They liked not having the responsibility of paying bills. They didn’t like the change back to normalcy.” 

They were desperately trying to hold on to their utopia by the end of the month, with Zack moving in with Addie and the adoption of several stray kittens. The pair hosted a barbecue in the courtyard of the apartment, regaling friends with the story of how they’d rode Katrina out together. Addie proclaimed, “I wish this love for every human being on the planet.”

But by the end of October, more of the normalcy was creeping in, tainting their happiness. They returned to their jobs, and Lana demanded that Zack resume his parental responsibilities, furious that he had abandoned her and their children to stay with Addie. He hadn’t even returned any messages she’d left on his cell phone during and after the storm, leading her to believe that he had died in the disaster for quite a long while. Zack and Lana had a volatile confrontation where she stated that she was done with him, and demanded Zack start paying child support. Addie was initially receptive to the kids’ visits to their home, but eventually withdrew, leaving the apartment when Jaxon and Lily would come over. Soon she began to push Zack to get a hotel room for the kids’ weekend visits. A mutual friend said, “Everything changed when real life started coming back in…they were living in a bubble. She wanted him to be a creation only for her. It was the same with him: he fell in love with the goddess of the French Quarter. But that was not reality - and reality started forcing its way in.” 

Addie soon became a favorite bartender at the Spotted Cat jazz club, while Zack took a job delivering groceries. Because his work was so rooted in socializing and traveling the neighborhood, all the locals came to know Zack. And between both of them, they were making enough in tips during the tourist season that they began to go on marathon drinking and drug sprees by spring of 2006. The inebriation led to terrible fights between the two, including one violent enough to leave Addie bruised, though both couldn’t remember what had happened. Zack decided to take a break from her and New Orleans, spending a few weeks in Portland, Oregon. Both Zack and Addie were miserable during the separation. A friend bough Zack a plane ticket back to New Orleans - “I wanted them to work it out and be together because they were so much in love, and having lost a relationship after Katrina, I wanted to see something work out for someone else.” 

They had a blissful reunion upon Zack’s return to the city, but it wouldn’t last. They fell back into their routine of partying, Addie falling into one of her spells and verbally abusing Zack, and friends’ intervention. That summer, their fighting devolved into constant breaking up and getting back together, over and over again. In mid-August, one particularly heated fight propelled Addie to leave the apartment with her handgun and eventually get into an argument with a man in the French Quarter. Addie trained her gun on the man, who called the cops. She fled back to the apartment, but was soon arrested by police for aggravated assault with a firearm, as well as possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Zack refused to bail his girlfriend out, but she was assisted by friends…and the couple got back together. It didn’t last long. In late September, neighbors called police on the pair after a violent screaming match at the apartment, resulting in Zack being arrested for possession. As their fights increased, so did their dependence on drugs, including cocaine. As Addie’s former boss characterized it on Final Witness, theirs became a “graveyard love”.

Zack also began to party at a gay leather bar called the Phoenix. He’d bartended at a gay bar before, but at the Phoenix, he began to do much more. He began secretly dating another man and contemplating his bisexuality, but in the post-Katrina French Quarter, his relationship didn’t stay secret from Addie for long. Angry and heartbroken over his infidelity, she began to taunt him with homophobic comments. The couple then did maybe the 3rd-worst thing to do in attempting to rescue a failing relationship, after having a kid and getting married: they moved in together officially, into an apartment on North Rampart Street. 

On October 4th, 2006, Addie showed up unexpectedly to landlord Leo Watermeier’s office demanding a six-month lease in her name only, which he eventually agreed to. Minutes later, Zack called Leo, saying “Oh man, I’m screwed, she’s kicking me out and the lease is in her name.” When Watermeier attempted to confront the couple, Addie screamed at him that she’d found out Zack had been cheating on her with another man. Zack himself was furious, as he had fronted much of the money for the rent, and was now stuck without a place to have his children visit for their weekends. Leo basically fled, leaving the couple to their argument. 

And argue they did, for hours upon hours, well into the night. As Ethan Brown writes in Shake the Devil Off: “Zack grew increasingly despondent about not just his poisonous relationship with Addie but his entire life, which seemed to him now a long accumulation of shames and failures: dropping out of high school for no good reason, and then decamping to New Orleans to party with his dad; having kids at far too young an age; enduring the loss of friends in Iraq; the general discharge that jeopardized his benefits and ended his military career; the dissolution of his marriage with Lana soon afterward; irresponsibly failing to care for Jaxon and Lily during and after Hurricane Katrina; the return to the endless succession of low-level jobs in New Orleans, the place he’d believed he’d left behind when he enlisted in the army. Finally, because Addie had signed the lease to 826 North Rampart in her name, Zack, in his despair, was confronted by the prospect of homelessness: he couldn’t go back to Lana and live with her, and the notion of carting his belongings to the run-down Empress and then making up an excuse to Lana as to why he couldn’t take the kids again embarrassed him…As midnight neared, Zack and Addie’s fighting turned physical. About an hour later, according to Zack’s extensive suicide note, Zack clasped his hands around Addie’s neck and strangled her to death.”

This extensive note was found in Addie’s journal, with entries from Zack beginning on the morning of October 5th, hours after killing her. “She had stolen this apartment, tried to kick me out, then would not shut the fuck up so I very calmly strangled her. It was very quick.” He went into more horrifying detail, which I suggest our more sensitive listeners skip a few minutes ahead.

“After sexually defiling the body a few times, I was posed with the question of how to dispose of the corpse.” I will say, police told ABC News soon after the murder that “There’s no indication of necrophilia…we don’t suspect it at all.” So perhaps Zack lied, though why you’d say that, I don’t know. Zack would pass out on the bed in a drunken stupor, waking again at about 6am the next day. At work, he told a mutual friend that him and Addie had split, and she had taken some of his money and went back home to North Carolina. The friend later said that he’d contemplated if Zack had murdered Addie, but dismissed the idea because it was “not something you can even comprehend a friend doing.” Plus, bailing for a spontaneous trip out of state seemed like something Addie would do.

After work that evening, Zack arrived back at the apartment and began to methodically clean the crime scene and dismember Addie’s body. Zack wrote, “I came home, moved the body to the tub, got a saw and hacked off her feet, hands and head. Put her head in the oven (after giving it an awful haircut), put her hands and feet in the water on the range.” He worked on the body for hours until he became so exhausted that he needed to sleep. He planned to spend the weekend disposing of the body, but wrote, “Due to laziness spent most of that time coked up in various bars with different girls.” 

He failed to take the kids for the weekend, obviously, but managed to convince Lana to bring them by the store to see him. Lana observed that he was in a happy, generous mood, telling the kids to run inside and “get all the Cokes and candy you want.” He promised that he’d take them next weekend, and bid them goodbye. 

Zack continued his work that night. “Sunday night I sawed off the rest of the legs and arms and put them in roasting pans, stuck them in the oven, and passed out. I came to seven hours later with an awful smell emanating from the kitchen. I turned off the oven and went to work Monday. This would be the last day I’d work.” Zack delivered groceries on his shift that day as the dismembered body of Addie Hall lay strewn throughout the apartment. When he returned back, the sight of Addie’s rotting body parts finally overcame him with horror. “I scared myself not by the action of strangling the woman I’ve loved for one and a half years…but by my entire lack of remorse. [So I] decided to quit my job and spend the 1500 in cash I had being happy and kill myself.” 

He spent the next evening at the Hustler Club on Bourbon Street, charming one stripper to take him home to her place for a wild sex-and-drugs bender lasting 2 days. When he returned to the Quarter, he went back to the strip clubs, then called Lana in a drugged-out haze when he realized it was their wedding anniversary. The conversation was short and awkward, with Lana hanging up on Zack after he referred to her as his “favorite stripper”. 

The next few days Zack went out to bars and clubs with friends, treating several people to drinks and lap dances. He took a friend’s bartending shift and happily slung cocktails until sunrise. At home, he marked his body with 28 cigarette burns, representing the 28 years of his life, wrote in Addie’s journal, spray painted messages on the walls and eventually, on October 17th, rode the elevator to the top of the Omni Royal Hotel and the La Riviera rooftop bar, spent the afternoon having drinks by the pool, and leapt from the roof to his death below at 8:30pm.

Lana was soon notified, about Zack’s suicide as well as the murder. “Once I found out about the Omni Royal I knew everything I needed to know,” she said. “We used to take the kids swimming there. I felt like Zack made a personal decision to hurt me and the kids.” The news got ahold of the story and ran with it: “BOYFRIEND CUT UP CORPSE, COOKED IT” screamed the headline of the Times-Picayune. “GAL PAL GUMBO” announced the New York Post, with their typical tact. Many began to call Zack the “Butcher of Bourbon Street”. A New Orleans therapist urged Lana to tell Jaxon and Lily all of the details of the murder suicide, leading Jaxon to become withdrawn and Lily to start making crayon drawings of Zack jumping off the roof of the Omni Royal. The little girl also developed severe gastrointestinal symptoms, triggering a doctor to speculate it was a psychological response to her belief that her father had eaten Addie. Many news outlets report that Zack had partaken in cannibalism after cooking Addie’s remains, but from what I can gather there is no proof that he ever did or ever intended to. It seemed that the cooking thing was just his screwed up mind’s suggestion for disposing of her remains.

Zack’s body was cremated, with the Bowens opting for no funeral in order to avoid media coverage. Addie’s body sat unclaimed at the Orleans Parish coroner’s office for months until finally taken by family members in the late winter. Late in 2006, the Associated Press wrote, “There is no suggestion the slaying had anything to do with voodoo, but some guides are already dropping the story into the yarns they spin as they take visitors on tours of the Quarter, a place of Gothic spires, curlicued wrought iron balconies, and shop windows cluttered with voodoo candles and bottles of exotic potions.”

And indeed, when we were on our New Orleans ghost and history tour back in 2019, we made a stop at 826 North Rampart, and heard the story of Zackery Bowen and Addie Hall. Zack and Addie’s case has become another New Orleans ghost story, spotlighted in shows like Paranormal Lockdown and Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural. These shows - including our beloved Buzzfeed boys - make a link between the voodoo shop on the first floor and the crime itself. The voodoo shop is now Bloody Mary’s New Orleans Haunted Museum, and the building is sometimes called the Rampart Street Murder House, or the Zack and Addie Murder House. You might even be able to go upstairs and see Zack and Addie’s apartment, complete with the tub where Addie was dismembered, and the stove and fridge that stored her body. Whew.

When television isn’t covering the haunting angle, they’re covering the crime itself. Along with Final Witness, the case has been shown on true crime docuseries like Handsome Devils . Each show handles the case with differing amounts of empathy - as you can probably tell by the title Handsome Devils, that one took a more negative angle on Zack, despite the involvement of interviewees like his mother Lori and ex-wife Lana. Lori especially can be found online, in places like Zack’s digital obituary, talking about how much she loved him and how sweet he had been. Finding her words about her son really drove home to me that this is a case that still is extraordinarily painful to all those involved, who loved both of these people, and can’t just flip to hating Zack for what he did. I hope we handled the case respectfully, for their sakes.

As a final strange postscript to this story, one of the interviewees on Final Witness and in the documentary Zack & Addie - Margaret Sanchez, a close friend of Addie’s - was arrested in 2014 for the murder of dancer Jaren Lockheart with her boyfriend, Terry Speaks. Very weirdly, Lockheart had been stabbed and dismembered by the couple on June 6th, 2012, just a month before the Final Witness episode on Zack and Addie that Sanchez was interviewed for aired. Sanchez pleaded guilty in 2016, receiving 40 years in prison for manslaughter.

So Sean, what are your thoughts on this case? Do you think Zack and Addie were failed by the systems around them, like with the military and government? Do you think Zack was a monster - or a troubled ex-vet tormented by PTSD who regretted his actions?



It’s True Crime Time.

Not to wallow in the darkness too much this week, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the University of Idaho student killings that have been all over the news the last few days. 

On November 13th, 4 University of Idaho students in Moscow, Idaho - Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Madison Mogen - were found dead in a home near the university’s campus. Police were responding to a call about an unconscious person, but what they found was a bloodbath. All 4 students, aged 20 and 21, had been stabbed to death so brutally that it’s been rumored there was blood seeping out of the foundation to the exterior of the house. Goncalves, Kernodle, and Mogen all lived in the home, with Chapin a frequent visitor as he was dating Xana.

Chapin and Kernodle had attended a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house until about 9pm the night before. Goncalves and Mogen were at a local sports bar until 1:30 am, and seen ordering from a nearby food stuck on the truck’s live Twitch stream. They did not appear to be in distress or in danger in any way. All 4 victims were back at the house by 1:45 am on Sunday, and the next we know, the 911 call was placed around noon. Police have said the four victims were likely sleeping at the time of the attack, and that some of them had defensive wounds. 2 other roommates in the home were uninjured, as well as a pet dog.

Police said multiple calls were made to the cellphone of a victim's ex-boyfriend, ending at 2:52 a.m. Police do not believe the ex-boyfriend is a suspect. The timing of those calls places the murders sometime after 3 a.m. The surviving roommates had even called friends over to the home to hang out, believing the dead body of one of their roommates to just be unconscious from partying. 

Moscow police initially told the public that the attack was targeted, with no further threat to the public. But by day four, Police Chief Jason Fry adjusted that statement: “We cannot say that there is no threat to the community.” No suspects have been named, but tips have come in suggesting that Kaylee Goncalves had a stalker. They have not been able to identify who that could’ve been as of now.

We’ll be sure to keep you all updated on this bizarre and tragic case as it progresses. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ethan, Kaylee, Madison, and Xana.