Swisher County Man Faces up to Life in Prison for Kidnapping Former Girlfriend
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 28, 2009|
AMARILLO, TX—Ronnie Joe Stowers, 58, of Tulia, Texas, has pleaded guilty to kidnapping his former girlfriend and taking her by force from Castro County, Texas to New Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Stowers entered his guilty plea to one count of kidnapping before U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Robinson on February 12, 2010. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison.
Stowers admitted that on October 27, 2009, he kidnapped L.A.S. and transported her from Texas to New Mexico for the purpose of terrorizing her.
According to plea documents filed in the case, at approximately 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, October 27, 2009, a 54 year-old female resident of Castro County, Texas, identified by her initials as L.A.S., was outside her home taking care of some animals when she noticed a pickup truck near her residence, which she suspected was driven by her ex-boyfriend, Ronnie Joe Stowers. She called the Castro County Sheriff's Office, then got into her car and drove toward the suspicious vehicle to verify who the driver was. The truck turned around and started driving toward her so she turned her car around and started driving back toward her residence. The suspect vehicle rammed her car, forcing her off the road. At this point, the Sheriff's Office called her and heard screams for help. Stowers got out of his vehicle, walked to her car with a shotgun, and drug her out of her car, threatening to kill her. He hit her in the face, forced her into his truck, and drove west.
A short time later, while still in Castro County, the woman jumped from Stowers' moving pickup onto the ground. A passing motorist saw her jump out of the pickup, and according to the motorist's statement, the motorist stopped and backed up to help her. The motorist observed that the woman was trying to stand up but was hurt and could not stand. The motorist then noticed that the driver of the pickup, Stowers, was standing at the rear of his pickup and was pointing a shotgun at the motorist. The motorist drove away and called 911.
Stowers forced L.A.S. back into his pickup and drove off again. Once again, she jumped from the pickup and Stowers again forced her back in his truck. He told her that if she tried to escape again, he would kill her.
Stowers drove the back roads from Castro County into Parmer County and into the New Mexico near Clovis. From there, Stowers drove north toward Tucumcari, where he decided he needed to get gas. He stopped in a deserted area, removed the woman from his pickup, and tied her up, telling her that he would return after he got gas. Stowers did return a short time later and forced the woman back into his pickup. He then drove west on I-40 to Moriarty, New Mexico, and then turned south. He drove her almost to Lovington, New Mexico, where he turned off on a dirt road and stopped. Stowers sat there talking to the woman for about three hours.
Just before daybreak on Wednesday, October 28, 2009, Stowers drove approximately one mile to another road and parked again. He gave L.A.S. his cell phone, took his shotgun, got out of his pickup, and instructed her to drive away and call 911. As she drove away, she heard a shot and saw Stowers fall to the ground. She called 911 and authorities from Lea County, New Mexico, responded and located Stowers with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
One of Stowers’ relatives contacted the Castro County Sheriff's Office and reported that Stowers had called him during the ordeal and admitted he had “messed up” and taken the woman.
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Drake of the Amarillo, Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office.