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'Forensic Files' TV show visits

Monday, October 24, 2005

Film crew will document how bloodstains, footprint helped crack a murder investigation.

A film crew from Court TV's top rated program, "Forensic Files," will be in Cape Girardeau this week to begin production for an episode highlighting the 1990 murder of William Lowes.

On Oct. 20, 1990, Lowes, 47, was found dead in his home at 202 S. Pacific St. in Cape Girardeau. An investigation led to the arrest of his former stepson, Brian K. Crews, who is serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of Lowes.

"Obviously the key in solving this case was science, it was an unusual case," said Tracy Johnson, producer for the episode. "In this situation, science brought justice to the case."

After Lowes' death, a medical examiner determined that he was killed by at least four major blows to his head.

At the time, investigators had no immediate suspects but discovered Lowes had recently divorced from Wanda Kay Knupp. The divorce was so recent that Knupp was still listed as the beneficiary of Lowes' life insurance policy.

With reasonable suspicion, police brought Knupp in for questioning, but she denied any involvement in Lowes' death. Authorities did learn Knupp had an 18-year-old son, Crews, who had lived with the couple before the divorce.

When crime scene investigators first searched for clues in the case, they photographed a shoe print and made a plaster cast from an impression left on the ground. The shoe print outside Lowes' home came from a man's Nike sneaker.

Investigators spoke with a friend of Crews, who admitted to being with Crews the night before Lowes was found dead. The man told police he waited in his car while Crews went inside Lowes' home. When Crews came outside, his friend told police, he was carrying a long wooden ax handle.

A search was done at the home where Crews was living at the time of the murder and investigators found one of his T-shirts with a bloodstain on it as well as a pair of Nike sneakers.

Tests revealed the blood found on Crews' shirt was consistent with Lowes' blood type. The sole of the sneakers recovered from Crews' bedroom matched the plaster mold made from the crime scene.

Crews was arrested and charged with the murder of Lowes. With the evidence against him, Crews confessed to killing his former step-father.

The role of forensic science, including the bloodstain evidence and shoe mold, helped investigators solve this case, Johnson said.

"I wasn't involved in selecting this case for the show," Johnson said. "But we look for cases that have been resolved, that way we have access to the evidence."

During the week, Johnson will be interviewing Morley Swingle, prosecuting attorney for the Lowes case, Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan, members of the Major Case Squad and family members of the victim.

Joe Lowes said he was contacted a month ago about the "Forensic Files" episode highlighting the murder of his older brother. He will be interviewed on Thursday.

"I don't have any feelings about it yet," he said about the show. "I'm not sure what all particulars will be involved. I guess they are doing it because of the circumstances around my brother's case."

It's been 15 years since his brother's death and Joe Lowes said he doesn't believe the family will ever have closure.

"You know, for my mother, there's that saying, 'you're never supposed to bury your own children' and then there are the circumstances surrounding the case, but you just live with it," he said. "We still talk about it and wonder what things could have been like for him. This show isn't going to bring him back or make it any easier, we are just going to be re-living it. Basically, what gets us through is our faith."

Film crews will be shooting footage for the episode on South Sprigg, South Ellis and South Middle Streets throughout the week.

Johnson said most of the final recreations of the event will be filmed at a studio in Pennsylvania.

The show's working title is "Bump in the Night" and should air in the next two or three months, Johnson said.

jfreeze@semissourian.com


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