Family, FBI Plead for Tips on 1984 Killing of Virginia State Trooper

Johnny Rush Bowman answered the doorbell in the middle of the night and was stabbed 45 times

Nikki Bowman was only 2 years old when her father, a Virginia State Trooper, was stabbed over 40 times and killed outside his Manassas, Virginia, home.

Now, Bowman, her family and the FBI are pleading for information in the 1984 cold case death of Johnny Rush Bowman.

The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in Bowman's killing. He was off duty at his home in Manassas, Virginia, when he answered the doorbell in the middle of the night on Aug. 19, 1984. When he opened the door, he was stabbed 45 times.

The 31-year-old father was unarmed but fought back. The struggle woke Nikki Bowman, his wife, brother and sister-in-law. The trooper died later that day.

The attacker or attackers left sunglasses, a wig and a construction hard hat at the scene, investigators said.

The killing set off one of the most expensive murder investigations in state police history, with 20 special agents interviewing more than 3,000 people in 41 states, The Washington Post reported in 1985.

Bowman's daughter is now a police officer with the Manassas City Police Department. She said the violent nature of the killing still shocks her.

"You can stab somebody a couple times and it kind of gets the job done, but I think when you're going on 40, 45 times, there's a little bit too much of anger going on, which makes me think its something personal," Nikki Bowman said.

The FBI Washington Field Office, Virginia State Police, the Manassas City Police Department and the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney for Prince William County are once again asking the public for help in identifying the person or persons responsible for Bowman's death.

“For 34 years, Trooper Johnny Bowman’s daughter, parents, brother, friends and colleagues have had to endure his loss and not knowing who was responsible for taking his life,” said state police Capt. Greg Kincaid. “That’s why still today, the Virginia State Police and our partnering agencies remain determined to solve this homicide and bring Johnny’s killer to justice."

Nikki Bowman said she hopes the public speaks up.

"I'm just hoping that by doing these interviews and getting my voice out there, I'm speaking for myself, but I'm also speaking for my dad. Both of us deserve answers," she said.

The cold case has mystified investigators for more than 30 years. In 1985, officials said they would not close the case until it was solved but conceded that key elements of the crime, like the time and location of the murder, were baffling, the Post reported.

And in 1986, Virginia state police said they were "99.4 percent certain" they knew who the suspect was, and planned to make an arrest soon.

The Post reported in 1986 that a fellow state trooper, Perry L. Worrell, was the key suspect in the Virginia State Police's investigation. Worrell was never charged, and his lawyer said Worrell swore he had nothing to do with the murder.

At the time, a special agent with the state police's Bureau of Criminal Investigation confirmed that the suspect was a member of the state police, but police and prosecutors said they did not have sufficient evidence to convict him. The state police captain said in 1987 that Worrell had left the force.

Matthew J. DeSarno, of the FBI's D.C. office, said officials need the public's help. 

“The public is our best weapon in solving this cold case and we are hoping that with the passage of time, and through a significant reward of $50,000, someone with information, no matter how small or large, will come forward and help us bring closure to the family and justice to Trooper Bowman," he said in a statement. 

Law enforcement officials are asking anyone with information to call the FBI at 800-225-5324 or the Virginia State Police at (703) 803-2676.

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