Man with hearing, speech impairments brutally murdered remembered by family: 'Heart of gold'

The family of a man with hearing and speech impairments who was attacked, robbed, and murdered in his driveway wants people to remember him for the kind and selfless way he lived his life and not the brutal way he lost it.

The eldest of six, Robert Bowen was a born caretaker and was proud to hold the role of protective big brother, said Shelly-Ann Bowen.

"I don’t know if I could have asked for, as a child, a better older brother," Shelly-Ann Bowen said. "I felt safe, and he was loving towards everyone in our family – especially our mother."

Bowen was deaf and mute, but according to Shelly-Ann, that did not slow him down. When he was 16, Bowen moved to the U.S. alone from Jamaica on a scholarship. After graduating from high school and university, he worked for a company in Orlando assembling ambulances.

"It is ironic that the very ambulance that he could have worked on and helped build wasn’t called in time to get him to the hospital in time for them to save him," said Shelly-Ann.

The 50-year-old died on March 21. According to the Orlando Police Department, he was beaten and shot. Detectives stated Bowen was robbed and left for dead in his Watch Hill Road driveway. Three months later, a piece of crime scene tape is still tied to a tree outside the home.

"We are living in an environment now where lives aren’t valued anymore," Shelly-Ann said.

Mary Ricketts, Bowen’s mother, still lives in Jamaica. She said Bowen was her firstborn and always had a heart of gold.


"It pains your heart to see the way in which he went, but we see what we can do to take his life forward," Ricketts said.

Two teenagers are now arrested in connection to Bowen’s murder. It’s another ‘dark irony’ to her son’s death, said Ricketts, as he used to mentor at-risk youth. According to Ricketts, the family is preparing for a long legal road ahead in the quest for justice.

"Each time you think you’re healing, there’s a call from the police office or somebody calls to say something. It’s always the hardest there," Ricketts said. "We are told [this] is going to be a long haul; it is not going to be a walkover. So, until then, we are just going to live the life and do what Robert would have wanted us to do."

Bowen’s family said they will no longer refer to him as a victim. Instead, they are opting to use his legacy to inspire others.

"We get to have a voice in shining a light on this life and encouraging others. We never know what is going to happen to us, so do your best to live a life that is of light and love," said Shelly-Ann. "If I am half the man he was, I am a better woman for it."

Bowen’s funeral was held in Orlando, but family and friends came from all over to attend. According to Shelly-Ann, the church was packed with more than 200 people.