Oct. 20, 2006 — -- New Orleans is still reeling from news this week that a bartender reportedly strangled his girlfriend, dismembered her body, and cooked some of the body parts on his stove before jumping to his death.
Now, it turns out, he was an Iraq war hero.
That's just one of the tragic ironies and mysteries of the suspected murder-suicide that has shaken residents of Crescent City.
Police said the mystery began on Tuesday when the body of Zachary Bowen, 28, was found on top of a parking garage.
A suicide note in his right, front pocket led cops to a grisly crime scene at his apartment in the French Quarter.
According to news reports, two pots were sitting on the stove, one containing a woman's head and another holding her hands and feet. Police believe the body parts belong to Bowen's girlfriend, Addie Hall.
In the oven, detectives reportedly found turkey-basting trays containing legs and arms sprinkled with seasoning.
A Los Angeles native, Bowen moved to New Orleans in the mid-'90s, and enlisted in the Army in May 2000.
He served in Kosovo and Iraq as a military policeman, earning several medals including the NATO medal and the Presidential Unit Citation, which is awarded to military units that have performed a heroic act in the face of an armed enemy.
After his discharge, Bowen returned to New Orleans, where he was hired at several bars because of his good looks, charming manners, and long blond hair.
But he seemed haunted by his past, writing in the suicide letter that he had 28 cigarette burns on his body to mark his failures in "school, jobs, military, marriage, parenthood, morals, love" for each year of his existence.
A fellow bartender told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that after downing rounds of Miller High Life and Jameson's Irish Whiskey, Bowen would grow depressed when talking about his military service, indicating that there was an overseas incident involving a child that haunted him
Before meeting Hall, Bowen was married and had two children, a girl and a boy.
Some of most gruesome details of the murder were immediately questioned by local police.
New Orleans Chief of Detectives Anthony Cannatella denied reports there was cannibalism involved in the crime, citing an autopsy that showed no evidence of body parts in Bowen's system.
Chief Joseph Waguespack also denied that the legs had been cooked or that necrophilia was involved.
"That's not factual," Waguespack said to ABCNEWS.com. "And there's no indication of necrophilia. We don't suspect it at all."
Bowen and Hall were no strangers to crime-weary residents of New Orleans.
The couple, who fell in love while surviving Hurricane Katrina, were profiled several times last year by several news outlets.
They refused to evacuate their neighborhood, where they lived in a simple home without electricity and spent their days feeding stray cats and mixing cocktails for random visitors.
Since then, their romance reportedly hit a few bumps in the road, with frequent loud arguments fueled by Hall's belief that her 28-year-old beau was cheating on her.
After killing Hall -- the remains have yet to be positively identified because of the state of the corpse -- in a crime of passion on Oct. 5, Bowen apparently went to work, delivering groceries, and spent $1,500 on food, drugs and strippers, according to his suicide note.
"I scared myself not by the action of calmly strangling the woman I've loved for one and a half years … but by my entire lack of remorse," wrote Bowen in the note.
Bowen had one last drink at the Omni Royal New Orleans hotel before walking over to an outside terrace and throwing himself off the edge.
A rooftop surveillance camera captured his nervous pacing back and forth. "This is not accidental," Bowen wrote in the note. "I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took."