Voodoo, Love, Murder: Welcome to the French Quarter

Voodoo Spiritual Temple N Rampart St Since 1991, 826 N. Rampart was the home to Priestess Miriam’s Voodoo Spiritual Temple. The historic Creole cottage was a place for spiritual and herbal healing, teachings, rituals, and ceremonies in the West African tradition. But it also experienced traumatic events. 

On February 1, 2016, at 3:30 AM, tenants of the building called the fire department. The Voodoo Spiritual Temple had suffered an electrical fire. The building survived, but there was extensive smoke and water damage, and the botanica and cultural center had been destroyed. 

The fire was a devastating challenge for the Center. But prior to the blaze, another tragic event occurred at the Voodoo Spiritual Temple. An event that would haunt 826 N. Rampart Street to this day. 

Eye of the Storm

On a humid day in July 2005, Addie Hall was kicked out of her apartment. But, a true bohemian, she was quickly offered a place to stay. They were both French Quarter bartenders, and Zack Bowen knew how it felt to find yourself in surprising circumstances. So they would start their next chapters together. 

Barely together a month when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the storm brought devastation and turmoil to the Crescent City. But Zack and Addie weathered her wrath, only to be met with an unexpected curse in the aftermath. 

About French Quarter’s Sweethearts

Zack and Addie came together with their own stories and challenges, but together they shared a love for the Big Easy. 

Zack

Bakersfield, California, was Zack Bowen’s first home. Born on May 15th, 1978, at barely twenty years old, Zack found his way to New Orleans. He bartended on Bourbon and fell in love with Lana Shupack. 

Soon, Lana became pregnant with their first child. Zack married Lana, and after their son was born, he enlisted in the army. He was sent to Iraq and Kosovo. While in Iraq, he befriended a young boy and his family. The boy and his family were killed for interacting with an American soldier. Zack never recovered from the guilt and pain. 

When Zack returned home to his family, now a father of two, he struggled with PTSD. The marriage became more and more difficult. Zack and his wife divorced shortly after he returned to New Orleans. 

Addie

Born Adriane on January 15, 1976, Addie’s childhood was not candy and kittens. Abuse in the home would begin patterns of self-harm and mental health issues into adulthood. But, in New Orleans, Addie found her place. 

Addie Hall’s bohemian spirit was welcomed in New Orleans. Dancer, artist, and poet, she made her living tending bar on Frenchmen Street at The Spotted Cat. She had her regulars, and the guests loved her. She could be seen riding her bike through the French Quarter, possibly searching for inspiration, or running from her demons that always caught up with her.    

Meet Cute    

Zack and Addie Zack began working behind the bar with Addie, and their flirtatiousness started immediately. They partied together, and both shared the desire to escape the grinds of life with booze and drugs. And when Addie was kicked out of her place, Zack came to the rescue; he offered her a place to stay – to live. 

Their party kept going. And when the Category 5 storm rolled into the Gulf Coast, Zack and Addie were determined to ride Katrina out.

Katrina

August 29, 2005, changed the lives of millions. Hurricane Katrina ravaged the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The winds in New Orleans gusted over 100mph. Rescue crews worked day and night, pulling people from rooftops and out of the rising waters. 

Zack and Addie rode out the storm in the French Quarter. The Quarter was one of the areas in New Orleans that sustained the least damage. But the French Quarter still went weeks without electricity or water; it looked like a ghost town. 

Their ambition to live the Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler life was not dampened by the storm. They set up a makeshift bar on the street and served drinks to the thirsty survivors. They threw together meals from what was available and fed their neighbors. They were inseparable and indestructible. They were the Darlings of the French Quarter, Katrina’s Sweethearts. 

As their reputation grew nationally, newspapers and magazines snapped pictures of their perseverance and acts of goodwill. But eventually, those demons they had banished would come back. 

Aftermath

Their lifestyle began to take a toll on their relationship. Their arguments turned to fights, and the roller coaster ride of breaking up and getting back together became a pattern. Zack was ready to end it, but Addie wanted a fresh new start. A do-over. 

Zack and Addie moved into a new apartment to begin their “fresh new start.” On the border of the French Quarter and across the street from Congo Square, they made the second floor of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple on 826 N. Rampart Street their new home. 

But it only took a few weeks for them to fall into the same combative patterns. And when Addie discovered that Zack was seeing another woman, she lost all hope. On October 4, 2006, Addie requested her landlord to modify the lease by removing Zack’s name from the contract. The landlord declined Addie’s request and said she needed to sort things out with Zack first.

That was the last the landlord heard from Addie. And Addie didn’t show up for her next scheduled work shift. But it would be two weeks later before anyone knew where she was. 

Love’s Casualties

At 8:30 PM on October 17th, 2006, a  call from the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel was made to the New Orleans Police Department. There was the body of a man lying lifeless on the roof of the hotel’s parking garage. 

When NOPD and EMTs arrived on the scene, they found Zack Bowen dead with a letter in his pocket addressed to police: 

This is not accidental. I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took. If you send a patrol to 826 N. Rampart you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge along with full documentation on the both of us and a full signed confession from myself. The keys in my right front pocket are for the gates. Call Leo Watermeier to let you in. ~ Zack Bowen.

Police raced to the apartment above the Voodoo Spiritual Temple; nothing could have prepared them for what they found.  Zack Addie Crime Scene

As they entered, the cold air was a shock; the thermostat was set to 60. The officers were then startled by the writing on the walls: 

I’m a total failure

I love her

Look in the oven

Zack Addie Crime Scene

Zack and Addie Crime Scene, Times-Picayune

The Murder

At 1:00 AM on Thursday, October 5th, 2006, Zack strangled Addie. The alcohol and rage exhausted him. But, once he awoke from his drunk nap, he had sex with her dead body. Then he got dressed and went to work.

Over the next few days, Zack cut up Addie’s body in their bathtub. He used a hacksaw and a knife, then placed parts of her corpse in different areas in the kitchen. 

Zack cut Addie’s hair and put her head inside a pot on the stove. Her feet and hands were put into another pot on the stovetop. Next, Addie’s legs and arms were layed in a roasting pan and put inside the oven. What remained of Addie’s body was stuffed into a black plastic trash bag and shoved into the refrigerator. 

The bathroom was thoroughly cleaned, with no trace of Zack’s sick brutality. But Zack didn’t stop at Addie’s body, he continued his hostility and disregard. The police found more notes written by Zack in Addie’s private journal. 

Today is Monday 16 October 2 a.m. I killed her at 1 a.m. Thursday 5 October. I very calmly strangled her. It was very quick.

Halfway through the task, I stopped and thought about what I was doing. The decision to halt the first idea and move to Plan B (the crime scene you are now in) came after awhile. I scared myself not by the action of calmly strangling the woman I’ve loved for one and a half years, and then (desecrating) her body but by my entire lack of remorse. I’ve known for forever how horrible of a person I am — ask anyone — and decided to quit my jobs and spend the 1,500 cash I had being happy until I killed myself. So, that’s what I did: good food, good drugs, good strippers, good friends and any loose ends I may have had. I didn’t contact any of my family. So that’ll explain the shock. And had a fantastic time living out my days … It’s just about time now.

Why?

The heinous acts that Zack Bowen committed are hard for most to fathom. Is it possible that his time as an active duty soldier caused irreparable damage to his psyche? We know that Zack had PTSD. Perhaps the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and the military efforts during the cleanup triggered past trauma for him. The alcohol and drugs just fueled his instability. Regardless of the unfortunate circumstances, the tragedy is beyond perception. 

But, as we all know, Zack Bowen’s actions are not unique to him. 

Margaret and Terry

Did you know that dismemberment is not that uncommon? 

Margaret

Margaret Sanchez

Margaret Sanchez Times-Picayune

The story of Zack and Addie is the perfect commodity for storytellers. News outlets, digital media, and documentarians dug deep into the awful events to capitalize on the depths of Zack’s unfathomable actions. And there was one person always eager to be interviewed, Margaret Sanchez. 

Margaret Sanchez can be seen on video and in print boasting about her close friendship with Zack and Addie. She claimed the three of them were best friends. They shared the French Quarter lifestyle and ran around in the same groups of artists, bartenders, and entertainers. Six years after Margaret’s “best friends” died in a murder/suicide, she pleaded guilty to an equally heinous crime. 

Terry

In 2003, Terry Speaks pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent liberties with a child in North Carolina; he was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He later broke the rules of his probation and ended up in Louisiana by way of Philadelphia.  

Killer Couple

On June 6, 2012, Terry and Margaret left Temptations Gentleman’s Club on Bourbon Street with Jaren Lockhard at around 2:00 AM. Jaren and Margaret worked together at the club. Jaren was 24 years old and a mother. Margaret was 30 years old and in a relationship with Terry, whom she knew as “Allen” – one of his many aliases. 

Terry and Margaret drove Jaren to their home in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans, with the promise of a nice payout for some “private entertainment.” Inside their home, they murdered and dismembered Jaren’s body. Then, they drove her parts to Mississippi and dumped her into the ocean. Jaren’s body parts washed up on various beaches along the coast of Mississippi. 

Convictions

Terry Speaks, 43, was convicted on June 20, 2015, of second-degree murder, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He is serving two life sentences at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. 

One year later, on June 21, 2016, Margaret Sanchez, 32, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. She was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

The twisted irony of Margaret’s relationship with Zack and Addie, and her future brutality, is unsettling. The common thread seems to be living on the fringe in the French Quarter. A counter-culture since its founding in 1718. 

The French Quarter is never short on mystery and scandal. The Quarter’s history has created ghost stories that are told through centuries. One person’s tragedy is another person’s fascination. Humans swing on a pendulum of the macabre: the watcher and the doer. I’m not convinced one is more acceptable than the other, but history tells us we don’t change. 

The Voodoo Spiritual Temple

Priestess Miriam Voodoo

Priestess Miriam and Dr.John MardiGras

Today, Priestess Miriam’s Voodoo Spiritual Temple is at 1428 N Rampart St. Some of the damage from the fire made parts of the Temple too difficult to restore for ceremony and ritual. Priestess Miriam is still revered and active in the New Orleans Voodoo community as a teacher, mentor, and leader.

826 N. Rampart is now the home to Bloody Mary’s Museum, Ghost Tours, and Voodoo Shop.  If you take a tour with Bloody Mary, they will show you the space where Addie Hall lost her life. 

PTSD

According to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry, 1 in 4 active duty members of the military show signs of a mental health condition that needs to be treated, with three major/primary health concerns:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Combat, assault, disasters, and sexual assault have lasting negative effects on one’s mental state. Sleeping issues, anger, nightmares, jumpiness, and alcohol/drug abuse are all symptoms of PTSD.
  • Depression: Most people think of clinical depression as a general feeling of sadness and despair, but it is so much more than that. Depression interferes with normal, everyday life and is not something you can get over on your own.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A significant blow to the head and/or body in combat can include severe headaches, fatigue, drowsiness, memory problems, and mood swings/changes. Without proper treatment, it can get much worse.

If you or a loved one needs help, please call the Veterans Crisis Hotline. It’s available 24/7 by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.