Nearly two months after the body of a woman was found burned in a Florida field, a man has been charged with murder – thanks to a letter found under her body.
The body of 18-year-old Coyoete Turner was discovered at the edge of a peanut field outside Jacksonville on Sept. 3, according to an arrest report from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office obtained by McClatchy News.
She had been burned on her torso, arms, neck, shoulders and thighs, and there was bruising and injuries on her face, deputies said.
When investigators moved her body to be taken to the medical examiner’s office, they found burnt items underneath her, according to the report. The ground under her body also had a “wet appearance,” deputies said.
Among the items, many of which were redacted from the released report, was an envelope and letter from a medical office, deputies said.
The letter was addressed to a location in Live Oak, so investigators went to the home for a closer look, according to the report.
There, they found 47-year-old John Leonard Bowen staying at the house and using another person’s vehicle to get around and bring family to and from work, deputies said.
Bowen is a convicted sex offender and was not registered to be living at that address, according to the report.
Instead, Bowen was supposed to be living on County Road 349, near where Turner’s body was found, deputies said.
Bowen was taken into custody on Sept. 7 on charges of violating the conditions of his release and placement on the sex offender registry, according to the report.
While investigators were waiting for confirmation of the body’s identity, a woman who identified herself as Turner’s mother reached out to the sheriff’s office after seeing a Facebook post about a body being discovered, deputies said.
She told investigators she hadn’t heard from her daughter for 24 hours, according to the report.
One woman with Turner’s mother identified herself as her aunt, and told investigators Turner had lived with her and her boyfriend for a period of time a few years ago, deputies said.
Turner’s aunt told investigators her boyfriend was John Leonard Bowen, according to the report.
It was not clear whether Bowen was already a convicted sex offender when he lived with Turner.
Already in custody, Bowen was questioned about Turner, and deputies said he made statements about her death.
“Bowen made multiple statements about the death, and changed his story. He claimed there were other persons present and part of this investigation is continuing in order to determine whether it is accurate that others were involved,” deputies said in the report.
Bowen’s statements were redacted from the released arrest report.
The medical examiner’s office had not released Turner’s official cause of death as of Oct. 30 but said the death was a homicide and she died from trauma.
On Oct. 30, Bowen was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and tampering with evidence.
“While we cannot bring the victim back, we can pursue justice on her behalf,” Sheriff Mark Hunter said in an Oct. 30 news release. “I am proud of the hard work and long hours our detectives have put into this case to date.”
Columbia County is about 60 miles west of Jacksonville.