Death of a real presence

ViewFinder

ViewFinder

December 10, 2006|By Andre F. Chung | Andre F. Chung,Sun Staff

When Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz and I set out in pursuit of answers following the murder of John Dowery Jr. in an East Baltimore bar, we recognized that it would be difficult to find anyone in the neighborhood willing to speak with us.

Dowery had apparently been killed for being a testifying witness and people who might talk with us about the circumstances of his death were painfully conscious of that intimidating likelihood.

I was impressed by the evidence of his heart; shot six times previously and still testifying. Amazing. Most people would be paralyzed by fear, reduced in some way, as they dealt with the reality of someone wanting them dead. Dowery took some precautions, accepting relocation from the police, but he continued to live his life.

As we canvassed the block where the Kozy Korner, the bar where Dowery was shot, stood, people were friendly but unwilling or unable to speak with us about Dowery. Inside the bar, a tiny, dark space that would be crowded with a dozen people, patrons and staff were brusque and dismissive. I tried to imagine someone getting shot nine times in this little place, and how brazen the killer would have to be to do a murder there.

We left that place to go speak to his family on a nearby street. The Dowerys painted a picture of an easygoing man who loved his people. His namesake John III spoke of how he had spoiled him and all his siblings, and treated his stepchildren as his own.

The youngest daughter, Kayiah, romped on the sidewalk in her father's shirt. As small children do when adults are talking, she continually inserted herself into the conversation, looking for attention. But when her brother asked her to tell us how she missed her father, she became downcast and quietly settled on his lap. It was painful to witness. This was no absentee father; he had a real presence and will be missed.

A portfolio of other images taken by Sun photographers can be seen at www.baltimoresun.com/viewfinder.

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