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Discovery of Skeleton Apparently Ends Bizarre Case of Wife’s Murder

March 13, 1990

SEATTLE (AP) _ Hikers have found the skeleton of a 70-year-old man who was sought in the September slaying of his wife, a case featured on the television show ″Unsolved Mysteries,″ authorities said.

Joe Frisino of the King County medical examiner’s office identified the man Monday as Joe Lynn Owens. The cause of death remained undetermined pending an autopsy.

″It’s a sad ending to a sad case,″ said homicide Sgt. Joe Ritter. ″I wish he would have at least left something to tell us why he did it.″

Owens disappeared Sept. 7, the day after police questioned him about the disappearance of his 78-year-old wife, Gladys. Her body was found Sept. 14 under a false floor below a compost pile at the couple’s west Seattle home after police acted on tips. She died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

King County police Maj. Jackson Beard said investigators were called to a trail about 30 miles east of Seattle on Sunday after two hikers found a human back bone.

Police searched the area Monday and found more bones, clothing, Owens’ hearing aid, glasses and a gun.

When questioned about Mrs. Owens’ disappearance, Owens told relatives his wife was going to school in Canada and told neighbors she had gone to Kansas to visit relatives.

He was questioned Sept. 6 after a neighbor told police of the conflicting accounts. Detectives then learned Owens had told his wife’s nephew she had taken an overdose of pills and he had buried her on family property.

When detectives returned to question him Sept. 7, he was gone. Police got a search warrant and found Mrs. Owens’ body a week later.

Owens was charged in absentia with first-degree murder.

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