Cape Girardeau County burglar says he's 'haunted' by last crime

Friday, October 9, 2009

When Mark P. Lowery thinks about the 157 burglaries he says he's committed in Cape Girardeau County, one haunts him above all the rest.

The burglary of a Jackson residence April 10 was not just the crime that eventually led to Lowery's capture; it was also the only time in Lowery's lengthy criminal career he'd had a confrontation with a homeowner while burglarizing a house.

"I had to put my hands on that man. ... It's haunted me ever since. I feel bad for what I've done to that man," Lowery said Thursday during a phone interview.

The day after the burglary, Lowery said, when his dog was hit and killed by a car, he felt he was being punished somehow for what he'd done.

Lowery, 46, is incarcerated at Eastern Diagnostic, Reception and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo., serving a 40-year sentence he received this summer for two burglary convictions in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

After the string of burglaries -- the largest number ever committed by the same person in Cape Girardeau County -- baffled police for more than a year, a surveillance video taken in an empty lot near the April 10 burglary helped identify Lowery, something Lowery attributed to his own carelessness.

"I got myself arrested," he said.

Lowery, who spent more than 20 years in California prisons for crimes he'd committed in his native state, said when he moved to the Midwest with his wife and two daughters, it was because he wanted to be close to his family in Robinson, Ill., and to start over.

"In my mind and my heart, I did grow up," he said. He said he had friends, relatives and even parole officers tell him they believed he could straighten out his life and make an honest living for his family.

But before long, Lowery said, he turned back to burglary to supplement his work laying tile floors so he could afford the more extravagant lifestyle he craved.

"I just like nice things," Lowery said. "I think I just wanted to be that guy, the big guy on the block."

Lowery said he liked the feeling of lavishing expensive gifts on his daughters, ages 12 and 14, and taking them and their friends on expensive trips to Six Flags and the Current River.

Lowery said he began committing burglaries as a child, when he broke into a neighbor's home to steal some loose change. He stopped for a while when he moved to Missouri but said he felt lured back because it was "easy pickings."

"I literally could not stop; there was so much money to be made in the Midwest," Lowery said.

He said that though his wife begged him to stop what he was doing, the reality of his crime spree didn't register until he was sitting in jail after his arrest and caught his picture on television.

When he saw the image of himself in court, handcuffed, shackled, head lowered, that was the moment when he "knew his life was over," he said.

Since his conviction, his wife began pursuing a divorce and his children won't speak to him, he said.

Lowery said he knows the residents of Cape Girardeau County "did not deserve [his] wrath."


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