Sex offender named person of interest in death of 18-year-old found in Columbia County field

Two weeks after the body of an 18-year-old woman was found in a field in Columbia County, investigators have identified a person of interest in her homicide.

Coyoete Turner was found Sept. 3 in a field near SW Haltiwanger Road, which is not far from Ellisville.

Investigators said Turner’s body was partially burned, which made it difficult to identify her at first. They have not said how she died.

Detectives said there is no evidence at this time to suggest any members of Turner’s immediate family are involved in the case, but investigators have identified a person of interest: 47-year-old registered sex offender John Leonard Bowen.

RELATED: ‘She was a bright little girl’: Columbia County mother mourns death of daughter found in field

Detectives said Bowen has been named a person of interest because of witness statements, evidence at the crime scene and “other investigative efforts.”

Bowen is currently being held in the Columbia County Detention Facility on unrelated charges stemming from violations of his sex offender registration.

Turner’s homicide investigation is still continuing, and detectives are asking anyone who has had contact with John Leonard Bowen to contact the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives are particularly interested in anyone who Bowen contacted, or anyone who may have seen him on the night of Saturday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 3.

Investigators said Bowen might have been driving a red Dodge Journey SUV.

“Our Detectives have worked tirelessly on this case since Coyoete was discovered,” Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter said. “It is horrific to think that anyone is capable of these acts. I urge anyone with information in this case to contact our office. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Coyoete’s family and friends as they continue to endure this tragedy.”

Eleanor Houston, Turner’s mother, said she still doesn’t understand why someone would want to hurt her child, who she described as a caring person.

“Nobody’s child deserves that,” Houston said. “I shouldn’t be burying my child.”

Houston is hopeful someone will come forward soon, so she and her family can get closure on who killed her daughter and why.

Until then, she’ll reminisce on the fond memories she shared with Turner.

“My favorite memory with my daughter is when she would come up to me and say, ‘Mama, let’s howl at the moon,’ and we would,” Houston said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, specifically Detective Truesdale at 386-758-1375, or report anonymously to Crime Stoppers of Columbia County.

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