Police say a convicted Iowa murderer is on the lam after failing to appear in court yesterday to hear a jury find him guilty of murdering his wife.
Gregory Showalter Sr., 63, of Ottumwa, had been out on parole since August 2021, when a judge allowed him to post 10% of his $250,000 bond in exchange for court appearances and the use of a GPS monitor.
Lt. Jason Bell of the Ottumwa Police Department stated on Friday that when police went to Showalter’s residence in Ottumwa, they discovered a woman outside who claimed to be his friend. She stated that Showalter had given her the vehicle’s keys and remarked that he no longer required them. She believed he would stroll to the courthouse but had no idea where he had gone.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Showalter, considered “armed and dangerous,” now has an arrest warrant for Failure to Appear—First Degree Murder.
“Showalter was not present today, September 22, 2023, when the jury found him guilty for the murder of his wife in August of 2021,” the statement said. “If you see Gregory Showalter Sr. or have any information about his whereabouts, please call 911 or the Ottumwa Police Department.”
Showalter is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, according to authorities.
According to the Ottumwa Courier, prosecutors claimed that Showalter, who was divorced from his wife Helen in 2021 after being married for more than 40 years, lured her to a job site, murdered her, and then discarded her body near the Des Moines River.
According to the newspaper, Helen Showalter’s family reported her missing the next day, and a local discovered her body floating in the river.
On Friday, as police looked for Showalter, the judge ordered that the verdict be read aloud, citing Iowa court procedures in cases where a defendant is voluntarily absent. Showalter was found guilty of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, malicious injury resulting in serious injury, and domestic violence assault by strangulation or obstructing blood circulation by the jury.
According to the Associated Press, Showalter’s lawyer said he phoned his client and advised him to come to the Wapello County Courthouse on Friday to learn his fate before authorities discovered he cut off his GPS monitor and turned off his cell phone.
According to the Ottumwa Courier, a police canine trailed a scent to a motel approximately 1,000 feet away from Showalter’s home on Friday but could not locate him.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for October 16. A first-degree murder conviction in Iowa carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of release.