Sex offender charged in death of 18-year-old found in Columbia County field

Columbia County investigators have made an arrest in the homicide of an 18-year-old woman whose body was found in a field in early September.

John Leonard Bowen, 47, who had been previously designated a person of interest, was charged in the homicide of Coyoete Turner, who 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.

Bowen, a registered sex offender, was already being held in the Columbia County Detention Facility on unrelated charges associated with violating his sex offender registration.

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

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

“While we cannot bring the victim back, we can pursue justice on her behalf,” said Sheriff Mark Hunter. “I am proud of the hard work and long hours our detectives have put into this case to date.”

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.

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.”

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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