This is part 2 of our coverage of Zack Bowen and Addie Hall. If you haven’t listened to Part 1 from last week, make sure to go back and listen otherwise you’ll be lost.
So, we left off with Zack basically back where he started. He now has a wife he’s separated from, 2 kids, and has lost his military benefits. He’s back to bartending and despite all the women interested in him, he’s only interested in the one who isn’t, fellow bartender Addie Hall.
Addie was from Durham, North Carolina. Her dad was a Vietnam vet and her mom was a stay at home mom. She didn’t graduate from high school because she found things like sewing, dancing, and writing poetry more interesting than her class work. In one of her yearbooks, she had a quote under her photo that said, “I wear clothes that reflect my personality, and I also wear clothes for fun.” After she dropped out of high school, she traveled the country. She would crash on friend’s couches and would at times rely on strangers for food and gas money.
By the late 1990s, she settled back down in Durham where she taught salsa and ballroom dancing. It wasn’t long before she began to feel restless again and after a trip to New Orleans during Carnival season, she decided to pack up and move there. She did just that and after living in her car for a few weeks, she got an apartment with a man named Dennis Monn. Dennis was a New Orleans playwright who put on raucous and raunchy musicals and burlesques. They had met when her car she was living out of was parked outside the bar he worked at. He was immediately impressed by Addie’s pop culture savvy and her skills as a poet and seamstress. He said her poetry was “very, very good” and that “when it came to sewing she could make anything from anything.” When he invited her to stay with him, she quickly accepted and impressed Dennis once again when she made what he considered a feast for breakfast with only $10.
This living arrangement wasn’t long term though and when Dennis found an apartment of his own, Addie was able to get her own rental in the French Quarter. Even though they didn’t live together anymore, they stayed close friends and spent time together regularly. Addie had a strong sense of humor and one day decided to use her sewing mannequin to have a little fun. She dressed it in tourist clothing, a wig, and Mardi Gras beads and placed it on the sidewalk outside her apartment. She attached a cocktail called a hand grenade that was popular on Bourbon Street to the mannequin’s hand and watched as drunk tourists and French Quarter residents stopped and attempted to talk to the mannequin believing it was a real person. Later that night she posed it leaning face first into an old, broken toilet and a drunk tourist thought it was a real sick person and rubbed “her” back to make her feel better.
While she found time to indulge her hobbies and have fun, she was also working hard to pay her rent every month. Like a lot of people in the French Quarter, she would work all kinds of jobs to make ends meet. She waitressed, bartended, and even worked as a maid at a wedding chapel. Dennis said that her world consisted of her and what she could see around her. She wasn’t one to read the newspaper or watch TV, she just lived her life. It seemed like she could get through any hardship, but not everything was a ray of sunshine. When she drank heavily, she became abusive to everyone around her, no matter how close they were. She had also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was only able to take her medication sporadically as she couldn’t always afford it. This eventually led to a big fight between Addie and Dennis and they didn’t talk for three months. During this time she ended up living in a really sketchy place and constantly cycled through roommates because she was going through a rough patch and wasn’t bringing in enough money to afford a place by herself. One of the neighbors had said it was a place where everyone hits bottom.
Dennis said she was always more volatile when she had to live with a roommate and he was worried about her. She was also constantly getting in and out of relationships with rough guys. Many of the men she dated were physically abusive with one going so far as to break her shoulder. Addie’s violent spells were also becoming more frequent and by the end of 2004 she was getting involved in bar fights, with one ending with her cracking a beer bottle over someone’s head. She also was getting involved with drugs and once let a dealer cut and package his goods in her apartment.
In 2005, she began dating Capricho DeVellas. He was enamored with her when they met and thought she was amazing and fun. Once they started dating though, her spells began to surface again. He interpreted them differently than other people had and sensed it was a defense mechanism that probably originated from having been abused. He said, “She would mentally turn any man that she was with into an abuser. She would see him as the enemy. Women who experience abuse often turn men that they are with into the figure of abuse.” Capricho was able to recognize this because the last relationship he was in was with a woman who had been sexually abused as a child and she had very similar defense tactics.
He learned his assumptions were right when one night she told him that she had been sexually abused as a child. She said the abuse had been so extreme that before she was even 13, she had ended up in the hospital with a UTI because of it. Shortly after this confession, the two decided that it would be best to end their romantic relationship because she wasn’t in a place where she could move past the abuse and be in a healthy relationship. They still remained friends though and were very close. However, when he started dating someone else, she struggled with it and he decided to pull back from their friendship.
It was some time after this that Addie started working at Hog’s and met Zack. Like I said earlier, he was instantly drawn in by her and she didn’t understand his appeal and why all the other girls loved him. She was given the shift right after him and he started staying after his shift was over to keep her company since there wasn’t much business in the midmorning. He slowly brought down her walls and after a couple months they were dating. On August 23, 2005, the couple ran into Capricho and Addie introduced the men. Capricho thought they looked a little strange as a couple with Addie being thin and just over 5 feet, while Zack was big and burly and 6’ 10”. He was struck by how Zack visibly adored Addie and even noticed the positive effect the relationship seemed to have on Addie’s usual stormy demeanor. Everything seemed to be going great and the future looked brighter than it had just a couple of months before. But, a few days later, on Saturday August 27, Hurricane Katrina hit.
Lana was worried about Zack and called him to find out what he was going to do. He told her that he and Addie were going to stay there and ride out the storm. She didn’t think that was a good idea and offered to let both of them stay with her and the kids, but he refused. She was shocked at his callousness and lack of concern, but she couldn’t force him. By Sunday night, a mandatory evacuation was called, but some people, including Zack and Addie, stayed anyway.
The hurricane continued to get worse, levees were failing, and cities were flooding. The French Quarter escaped this flooding though because it was on higher ground. Since the French Quarter was in relatively good shape compared to the rest of the city, the couple believed they had endured the worst and refused to even consider evacuation despite most others that had stayed deciding to leave. They embraced survivalism doing things like fashioning paper plates into flyswatters and using tree limbs for campfires. During the day, they would work on clearing the street of trash and tree limbs and in the afternoon they would drink cocktails served on ice that they had managed to stash away from the bar. At night they would put a wooden table and folding chairs on the street in front of their apartment and serve canned food to their fellow holdouts. After everyone was fed and went home, the couple would light candles and listen to music on a battery powered boombox. They were thriving in this world with no rules and the disaster seemed to have washed away their pasts and helped them to move past everything and fall deeply in love.
This world they had created couldn’t last forever though and it began to crumble. First, Addie was in a grocery store looking for food when a man attempted to rape her. This brought back memories of her past abuse and shook her. Then the military sent troops in for search and rescues and when Zack saw them he was reminded of his failure in the military and he was triggered. Not long after, the evacuees started to return home and those that had stayed turned their noses up at them, feeling like they were better than them because they had stayed. They also didn’t like that this meant they were going back to the lifestyle of having to pay for rent, utilities, food, etc. New Orleans was slowly being pieced back together and Zack and Addie were having to readjust to civilized life.
By the end of October, they had to return to their jobs and Lana told Zack he needed to get back to his parental responsibilities. She hadn’t heard from him for weeks and for a while thought he hadn’t survived. So she was furious when she found out he was fine and living his best life while she was having to work to support herself and the kids. She arranged a meeting with him and told him that he needed to pay child support. He just wanted to see the kids and felt like she was making him pay to see them. She explained that he could see them as long as they made arrangements. She told him that if Addie was going to be around the kids then she needed to meet her first. At first he refused saying that it was unfair of her to set that demand when he still hadn’t met the man she had been dating since she left him. Lana said she was welcome to meet him as he was actually in the bar too. He got very upset at this and after a heated conversation, they agreed that Lana could meet Addie.
Zack went home and told Addie about what had happened and that the kids would be staying with them on a bi-weekly basis. He was worried about how she would take all of this since it was such a fresh relationship and they were still adjusting to life post Katrina. She was thrilled though and even went and got some clothes for them. On the other hand, when they went to meet Lana and the kids, Addie stayed in the car and seemed to not want anything to do with them. When the kids were with them she would go on long bar crawls, come home late, and shut the bedroom door to be alone with Zack. The kids told Lana that Addie didn’t like them and by the end of November, her coldness toward them turned into full on hostility. It reached a point where when Zack had the kids, she made him stay in a hotel with them. They were very clearly not living in a bubble anymore and rifts were opening in the relationship.
This all escalated into a huge fight in the early spring with Zack deciding it was time for him to leave both Addie and New Orleans. He went to stay in Portland for a while where his dad and brother were, but it wasn’t long before he was talking about heading back to New Orleans again. He said that he felt guilty about leaving Jaxon and Lily. He hadn’t told Lana he was leaving and she was frustrated with him and the situation it put her in with not wanting to tell the kids where he was or what was going on because she didn’t want them to have a negative view of them. Addie was also miserable without Zack and it was taking a mental toll on her.
In the early spring of 2006, Zack went back to New Orleans and he and Addie reunited. They had a blissful reunion and didn’t leave their apartment for three days. Like before though, this didn’t last. They quickly fell back into their habits of drinking and fighting. Zack talked to Capricho about what was going on and he told him that he needed to leave. Zack agreed, but would always end up staying anyway. They were constantly getting together and breaking up, almost on the daily. When they were broken up Zack would stay with friends and they could tell he was struggling. He was focused on the past and confessed to one friend that he was still haunted by his tour in Iraq. This friend was drunk and had been a medical corpsman in Afghanistan who’d had to literally sew people back together, so when Zack wouldn’t tell him what was so horrible about his time in Iraq he downplayed what Zack had been through.
The volatility in their relationship continued through the summer and it was only getting worse. They each ended up having a run in with the law; Addie for aggravated assault with a weapon, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia and Zack for possession of marijuana. Zack was working seven days a week and had saved up quite a bit of money. When one of their friends needed cash for rent, they helped him out and he repaid them by giving them access to cocaine as he was a dealer. It started out with a $20 bag of coke here and there, but quickly became more and more. At one point, Zack started hanging out at a gay bar that he had previously worked at and befriended a local real estate agent there. Late that summer, they began dating. Zack tried to keep the relationship secret, but people started to find out and when confronted by the friend who gave them coke, Zack admitted he was bi. He told him that with his relationship with Addie falling apart, he was finding himself open to having a relationship with a man. He asked the friend to keep this information from Addie, but she was inevitably going to find out about it. When she did, she was understandably furious about his infidelity, but took it too far with antigay remarks towards him. She even went so far as to steal his cell phone at one point and call every woman in his contacts list and tell them he had AIDS.
Addie was spiraling again and she wasn’t able to afford rent, so her landlord told her she had to leave. She knew Zack had saved up a significant amount of money and hadn’t gotten a place of his own, so she went to him for help. He agreed to front Addie the money for a new lease and to move back in with her once they found somewhere. He was hopeful that in a new environment, they could move past their fighting and turn over a new leaf. They quickly found a place on the second floor of a Creole cottage. The first floor was the Cultural Center of Priestess Miriam Chamani’s Voodoo Spiritual Temple. It was the complete opposite of their previous place and since they were able to front the deposit and first month’s rent (which was uncommon in the area after Katrina) the landlord, Leo, handed them the keys without so much as drawing up a lease.
Two days later, Addie showed up at Leo’s alone, demanding a six month lease in her name only. He wrote up something on a piece of paper and they both signed it. Five minutes later, Zack called him, freaking out because Addie was kicking him out, telling him the lease was in her name. Leo went to the apartment and found the couple in the stairwell fighting. She told Leo that she had caught him cheating on her with a man. He was shocked they were revealing such intimate details and told them he didn’t want to get involved in their drama. Addie assured him that she would be a good tenant and Leo left.
Zack was freaking out because not only had he just paid for two months rent, he was also supposed to have the kids the next weekend. Despite everything he had been through, Jaxon and Lily were what gave his life reason, so not being able to have a place for them to go had him reeling. He once again felt like a failure and was angry at himself, Addie, the whole situation.
Two weeks later, Zack jumped from the seventh floor of the Omni New Orleans hotel. He is the man that police found that day with the ominous note in his pocket. At the start of last week’s episode I read you the first sentence of that note, but now I’m going to read the rest and you’ll understand why police reacted the way they did. It said, “This is not accidental. I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took. If you send a patrol to 826 N. Rampart you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge along with full documentation on the both of us and a full signed confession from myself. The keys in my right front pocket are for the gates. Call Leo Watermeier to let you in. Zack Bowen.”
Police did as the note said and when they went to the apartment, they found a scene no one could have imagined. The first thing they noticed was the temperature and lack of smell. The air conditioning was set to 60 degrees and on full blast. There wasn’t the smell of rotting flesh and the bathroom where Zack had dismembered Addie’s body was clean of any lingering blood. On the walls were the silver-colored spray painted words of “I love her,” “I’m a total failure,” “please stop the pain,” and “look in the oven” with an arrow pointing to the stove door. Her head was found in a pot on the stove. Her feet were either in another pot with her hands or in the oven with her legs, depending on the source. The remainder of her corpse was in the refrigerator in a large bag. The body parts that were on the stove and in the oven had been cooked and while there were a lot of rumors and media sources reporting that this had been an act of cannibalism, it appeared this was just an attempt to get rid of evidence and mask the smell of decomposition.
What they would come to discover is that after their fight when they were moving into that apartment, Zack had snapped and killed Addie. According to an 8 page confession letter he had written in Addie’s journal, he “very calmly strangled her.” He also said, “it was very quick.” A lot of sources report that he violated her body, but police have said that this didn’t happen. After killing her, he passed out and it was the next morning that he dismembered her. He then meticulously cleaned the bathroom and spent the next 4 days trying to decide what to do with her body. During that time, he went about life as normal. He met with friends who said that he seemed normal and in good spirits. He even told them he was thinking about going on a vacation. In his confession letter, he said that he wanted to spend his last days indulging in “good food, good drugs, and good strippers.” He also burned himself with a cigarette, and according to the letter, he had burned himself once for each year he had been a failure. He also confessed regret, saying ““I scared myself not only by the action of calmly strangling the woman I’ve loved for one and a half years, but by my entire lack of remorse. I’ve known forever how horrible a person I am (ask anyone).”
So what caused him to snap and to take things as far as he did? People attribute his killing of Addie to all kinds of things. Some say that it was PTSS from his time in Iraq, others say that it was Addie abusing him. There are also those who believe that it happened because of the voodoo temple the apartment was on top of. They believe a demonic presence emanating from the voodoo shop under the home influenced him and there was nothing he could have done to stop himself. I personally think it was an accumulation of everything that he had been through and all of that compounded on him along with his untreated mental state.
Shake the Devil Off: A True Story of the Murder that Rocked New Orleans by Ethan Bown
Accessed April, 2022. https://ghostcitytours.com/new-orleans/ghost-stories/zack-addie/
Accessed April, 2022. https://www.historicmysteries.com/zach-bowen-addie-hall-murder/
Accessed April, 2022. https://delanirbartlette.medium.com/the-gruesome-tale-of-zack-bowen-and-addie-hall-and-what-it-says-about-our-fascination-with-true-5c6170a0b0f6
Accessed April, 2022. https://www.plantedintruecrime.com/post/addie-hall-and-zack-bowen
Accessed April, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_Grenade_(cocktail)
Accessed April, 2022. https://ghostcitytours.com/ghost-tours/new-orleans-ghost-tours/killers-thrillers-tour/