David A. Dowler


David A. Dowler

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Poisoner - Killed three acquaintances after having "premonitions" of their deaths
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1983 / 1986 / 1987
Date of arrest: August 20, 1987
Date of birth: 1967
Victims profile: Lisa Krieg, 26 / Juan Casillas / Leza Chandler
Method of murder: Poisoning (cyanide/chloroform)
Location: Odessa, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1988

Raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the son of an Air Force colonel and his Japanese wife, David Dowler seemed to be a well-adjusted child. In school, he maintained a B-average while holding up his end on the wrestling team, dabbling in electronics and operating a ham radio. He spent three years in college without graduating, and picked up a black belt in karate along the way.

Moving to Odessa, Texas, in 1981, he quickly found work as a sales representative for a local oil company. Beneath the polished surface, though, there was another side to David Dowler. He regaled selected friends with tales of contract killings, posing as a former secret agent who had "taken out six guys" on various assignments for the government.

Acquaintances took Dowler's stories with a grain of salt, but there was no denying that he seemed to have a sixth sense for predicting danger. On the morning of August 16, 1983, Dowler telephoned the father of Lisa Krieg, a 26-year-old coworker, to say that Lisa was late for work. Dowler was worried, and he could think of no one else to call. Stopping by his daughter's flat, the man found Lisa dead, stretched out across her bed and partially undressed. Her death was attributed to long-standing anorexia nervosa, but Dowler had a different story for his intimates, involving spies who had, for no apparent reason, tried to kill the woman several times before.

In Dowler's version of events, he found the victim nude and partly dressed the corpse, to make her death "look natural," before he called her father to investigate. Dowler had his next premonition of doom on February 12, 1986.

It concerned Juan Casillas, Dowler's partner in a one-hour photo developing service, and he called Leza Chandler, Casillas' ex-wife, to say he was "worried about Juan." Stopping by her ex-husband's apartment, Chandler found him dead on the kitchen floor. An autopsy revealed traces of drugs in his system, but they were not identified. Leza Chandler, herself, was the target of Dowler's next "premonition," on June 28, 1987. Phoning up another female friend, he asked if she would check on Chandler, "just in case."

The woman found Leza dead in bed, her infant daughter crawling aimlessly around her mother's body on the mattress. Medical examiners ascribed her death to acute chloroform poisoning, and the search for a killer began. By this time, friends and homicide investigators were becoming curious about Dowler's "sixth sense." His lady friend agreed to wear a microphone to several meetings with the suspect, in July, taping hours of conversation on espionage, assassination... and the various uses of chloroform.

Dowler was arrested for Leza Chandler's murder on August 20, a search of his apartment netting chloroform bottles, a .22-caliber pistol, and two homemade silencers. Held in lieu of $100,000 bond, he was formally indicted on September 8. While Dowler cooled his heels in jail, renewed forensic tests on Lisa Krieg and Juan Casillas turned up lethal dosages of cyanide in both.

Dowler was indicted for their murders in December 1987, while police examined circumstances in the death of Dorothy Nesbitt, another Dowler acquaintance who died mysteriously in November 1986. (No charges have been filed in Nesbitt's death.)

At trial, in January 1988, the prosecutor described Dowler as someone who "likes to be the power that snuffs out life. He likes that supreme power." The jury agreed, convicting Dowler of first-degree murder on January 27.

With two trials pending, he was sentenced to as term of life imprisonment.

SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: PC-nonspecific

MO: Killed three acquaintances with cyanide/chloroform after having "premonitions" of their deaths.