June 3, 2015
Lester Leroy Bower, Jr., was executed by the state of Texas on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Lester was pronounced dead at 6:36 pm CST, inside the Walls Unit execution chamber at the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Lester was 67 years of age and was the longest serving and oldest inmate executed in Texas. He was executed for the quadruple murder of 51-year-old Bob G. Tate, 39-year-old Ronald Mayes, 29-year-old Philip Good, and 52-year-old Jerry Mac Brown, on October 8, 1983, near Sherman, Texas. Lester spent the last 31 years of his life on Texas’ death row.
Lester was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Lester graduated from high school and then college, where he played football. Lester had no previous criminal history. Prior to his arrest, he worked as a chemical salesman and enjoyed rafting, hunting, backpacking, and archery. He and his wife and two daughters moved from Colorado to Texas months before the murders.
In the fall of 1983, much to his wife’s objections, Lester Bower was contemplating purchasing and flying an ultralight aircraft. Bower, unbeknownst to his wife, called Phillip Good after seeing his sale advertisement for an ultralight aircraft. Philip introduced Bower to Bob Tate, who owned an ultralight he wanted to sell.
On October 8, 1983, Bower drove out to an airport hanger to meet withe Philip and Bob. According to Bower, he purchased the ultralight from them, dismantled it, and went to store it in a local gun club so his wife would not find out about his purchase. According to prosecutors, Bower “snapped” and killed Philip and Bob. He then killed Jerry Brown and Ronald Mayes when they came over to investigate. Bower initially lied to investigators about his whereabouts on the day the four men were killed, allegedly wanting to spare his family from the attention being involved in such a case would bring.
Bower was convicted based on circumstantial evidence. Bower sold firearms on the side, had purchased prior to the murder a gun that used Julio Fiocchi .22 caliber bullets. Casings for these bullets were found on the floor of the hanger where the four men were killed. It was also believed that a silencer was used in the murders, although the murder weapon was never found. Prosecutors said he killed the men in order to steal the plane. Parts of the plane, with the name “Tate” scratched on them were found in Bower’s garage, along with fingerprints from Jerry, decals and materials which were traditionally found on the exterior of an ultralight aircraft, receipts for Julio Fiocchi .22 caliber bullets, books and articles on weaponry and how to commit murder, instructional guides for using silencers, and manuals for construction of ultralight aircrafts. Unidentified blood stains were also found on Bower’s boots.
Lester Bower has always maintained his innocence of the crime and regrets initially lying to police investigators. Five years after Lester’s conviction and death sentence, a woman came forward claiming Lester did not kill the men; her ex-boyfriend and his three friends did in a drug deal gone bad. Since then, three more witnesses have come forward confirming key pieces of the woman’s claim.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Bob Tate, Ronald Mayer, Philip Good, and Jerry Brown. Please pray for the family of Lester.