New Orleans is a city fascinated with the macabre. Carriage drivers regale French Quarter tourists nightly with tales of black magic, debauchery...
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans is a city fascinated with the macabre.
Carriage drivers regale French Quarter tourists nightly with tales of black magic, debauchery and murder. Visitors stroll around the legendary cemeteries, known as “Cities of the Dead,” and enjoy picnic lunches amid grand but crumbling tombs.
In recent days, New Orleans has been riveted by a true tale: A man chopped up his girlfriend and cooked her head and legs in a French Quarter garret above a voodoo temple this month before leaping to his death.
In just about any other city, the spot where such horror took place might lie empty for years, regarded as cursed. But Midge Jones, 64, a cemetery guide and enthusiast of the 19th-century voodoo queen Marie Laveau, said he has inquired about renting the one-bedroom 1829 apartment, still cordoned off as a crime scene.
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“As long as it is cleaned up and painted, and [has] a new gas stove, I’ve got no problem with it,” he said.
According to police, Zachary Bowen, 28, strangled and dismembered Adriane “Addie” Hall, 30, on Oct. 5. Eleven days later, Bowen jumped to his death from a hotel roof with a suicide note in his pocket telling police about the killing. Police found Hall’s charred head in a pot, her arms and legs in the oven and her torso in the refrigerator.
For days, French Quarter residents have seemed unable to talk of anything else, in large part because the couple were so familiar. They partied on Mardi Gras, drank at the best watering holes and knew every character in the Quarter.
Bowen and Hall apparently got together the night Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, when Hall gave Bowen refuge in her French Quarter apartment. They defied the mayor’s order to evacuate and fell in love. Bowen delivered groceries and meals by bicycle; Hall was described by friends as a poet and a dancer, and worked in bars.
But Bowen also talked about being disturbed by events he experienced while serving in Iraq and Bosnia with the U.S. military, and in his suicide letter he spoke of using drugs. Friends said Hall told them about abuse in her past.
Over time, their love affair unraveled. Hall apparently tried to extricate herself from the relationship by renting the apartment above the voodoo shop on her own. Shortly before her death, she complained to others that Bowen had cheated on her.
There is no suggestion the slaying had anything to do with voodoo. But some guides are already dropping the story into the yarns they spin as they take visitors on tours of the Quarter.
Michaela Reid, 33, who leads tourists on mule-driven carriage rides, said she relates some of the couple’s story as she tells tales of the Quarter’s macabre history.
“You’ve got to,” she said. “It’s kind of creepy.”
Kalila Katherina Smith, a self-described psychic who runs the haunted-history tour business Jones works for, said she wants to use her paranormal powers to see if any spirits are lingering at the spot where the murder took place.
But the voodoo priestess who lived next to the couple, above her temple, said the effort to capitalize on the tragedy troubles her.
“People in New Orleans might be gearing up to make another ghost story, to make a dollar,” Priestess Miriam said. “I could do that, but I’m not eager to make a dollar off this.”