A recent confession of Philip Ward at an upstate New York prison is sending shock-waves across media portals. Recollections of a heinous crime dating from February 1, 1989 was particularly elaborated on in a widely syndicated article from the Associated Press (NY man charged with beheading girlfriend in 1989 by Jennifer Peltz). I won’t attempt to parrot Jennifer Peltz’s words, but just to mention the horror of a decapitation (of Veronica Bowen) and a carefully thought out homicide transacted on an apartment rooftop, with a beautiful view of the Hudson River as an incongruous backdrop.
Philip Ward’s cold case, recently resurrected, got my attention for several reasons. Why wern’t we provided with a photo of the victim, Veronica Bowen, 21, who was the mother of two children with Philip Ward? Granted, this was twenty-three years ago, but I wonder what she looks like and struggle with horror when thinking on her demise when meeting Ward on a secluded rooftop so many years ago. Then again, perhaps there arn’t any photos of Veronica? 1989 pre-dates the age of the digital camera and the frenzied narcissism associated with social media, or the brazen arts of promulgating yourself on the all-knowing eye of the internet.
An additional repugnance grip-locks me as I fathom the fact that Philip didn’t want anyone to ever see poor Veronica Bowen’s face again, so he buries her head in Riverside Park to make sure this doesn’t happen. Veronica was pregnant with another man’s baby, after recently parting ways with Mr. Ward, her foster home sweetheart who had been abusing her mercilessly. Loathsome green jealousy, one of the primary seven deadly sins, is given as the motive for the grim scenario (brought back to life from the NYPD cold case file) going down in early 1989.
If I had a snippet of Bernard Hermann’s soundtracks from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I’d cue it up on itunes in a millisecond! It would provide some good ambient tones, resounding in sharp staccato note clusters; accompanying a story that gives an appearance of crime fiction, while in the back of our minds, we know this is a non-fiction chronicle. ‘Truth is stranger than fiction,’ is a good adage to pull out of our hats in the gleaning of details that stain your psyche permanently, with a scene you most dearly long to forget forever!
Such are the ironies of our lives, where the pleasant memories drift away, but the monstrosities persevere in an idle brain incapable of sorting out the good from the bad, as hard as you might try. We hear further, that Philip Ward does it again in 1994, when he shoots another girlfriend, Sheila Jackson. But this time he gets caught, and that’s why he is in jail currently. No photos of Sheila Jackson either? Ward was a young man when he went to prison, and it’s reported, he’s bettering himself with skills in masonry and metal work.
But Ward had gotten away with what he did to Veronica Bowen for many years, although NYPD detectives knew he was the one who did it. Ward had covered his tracks pretty good, so they couldn’t pin her death on him. Now in an effort to improve his relationships with his two children, he confesses to this atrocity from 1989. Well, it’s hard to see how this will improve his communication with his kids, who have mostly forgotten Veronica Bowen as their biological mother.
One can only imagine the pangs of conscience Philip Ward has experienced all this time while incarcerated. It best be forgotten. But this is unlikely. And now millions of Americans are trying to put it out of their minds as well, but they can’t. The harder you try to forget about it, the more vividly the image comes back to you, of Philip burying the head in a local park, near his NY apartment. A similar scene pops up in the movie Seven, where Brad Pitt confronts a most evil Kevin Spacey. But that’s just a very clever movie! Philip Ward’s deed is the real deal!