|Israel's mother Leora|
Israel, whose nickname was “Mugger”, was born May 31, 1915 in Bastrop County, Texas, to Leola (Leora) and Mose (Mosell) Fowler, the oldest son of six surviving children: Gertrude, Imogene, Mike, Johnny Mose and Raymond.
One day in 1960 while visiting grandpa (Mose)--he was ill and temporarily living with his daughter Gertrude--I was scanning the American Statesman, the local daily, and saw a short article that caught my eye. It was not so much the story, bearing only a couple of details. It was one of the names in the article. Israel Fowler of Austin, Texas stood out.
I asked Gertrude, my mother, if that was her brother. She was not sure. It had been over 40 years or longer since she had seen him. By now no one in the family knew if hew as dead or alive. We had no knowledge of a current address, or what state he was living in. We called the Washington, DC police department to see if we could get more information. I cannot remember how long it took to confirm that the deceased person was Israel Fowler.
At the time of his death Israel "Mugger" Fowler was survived by his mother Leola Fowler Sterling, his father Mose Fowler; sisters Imogene Fowler Gray and Gertrude Fowler Smith of Austin; brothers Raymond Fowler of Lorain, Ohio, Mike Fowler of Los Angeles and Johnny Mose Fowler of Austin; in addition to a host of nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his grandmother Pearl Powell Brown. He was interned in Bastrop, Texas at Fairview Cemetery.
According to newspaper accounts Israel, along with three other people, had been shot to death, execution style. His body was eventually returned to Austin, Texas for burial. The local funeral home reconstructed the left side of his face due to two gun shots behind his left ear at close range. There was no mention of him having a wife and family in Washington. None of his friends attempted to contact us. It's possible they never knew about his family in Austin. He had no pictures or any of our addresses. The police had no clues as to who shot him and the people who were with him.
**During a genealogical search I found news stories regarding the murders.
The Post, Frederick, Maryland
Friday, August 12, 1960, Page 2
4 shot to death
Pasco, Washington (AP)---Four persons were shot to death Thursday in a home. The gunman fled in a car. Police identified the four victims, all shot in the head as Truman H. Brown, Celeste Brown, Israel M. Fowler, and Robbie Jean Harris. They were residents of Pasco. Their ages were not given.
Brown was white, the others were Negroes. The shootings took place in a bedroom of the home of Mrs. Harris.
Police said Mrs. Harris’ young son was awakened by the noise and saw a man run from the house, jump in a car and speed off. Then he found the bodies. The boy got the telephone operator, who rang the police station for him. The boy told police the man he saw was white.
August 12, 1960
‘No motive’ murders baffle police
Pasco, Washington (UPI)–Police today were trying to piece together slim clues surrounding the apparent ‘no motive’ murders of fur persons here yesterday morning.
The victims were Mrs. Robbie Jean Harris, Israel M. Fowler, Celeste Dixon, all Negroes, and Truman H. Brown, a white. The unidentified killer was described as a six foot white man of average build, with graying hair, by Gregory Harris, 13-year-old son of the dead woman.
August 11, 1960, Page 34
**This is an excerpt from story about rising crime in this neighborhood in Pasco where Israel and other victims met their fate: ". . . ages of victims revealed: Robbie Jean Harris, 29; Celeste Dixon, 38; Truman Brown, 37, and Israel Fowler, 37 were shot to death in a home on East Clark Street by a gunman using a 22 caliber pistol. The bodies were found in the back bedroom of a one-story home. No suspect was arrested."
August 11, 1960, Front Page
4 shot to death in bedroom
Pasco, Washington (UPI)---Four persons were shot to death in the bedroom of a home here early today and police hoped to trap a man seen driving way from the house.
Police identified the victims as Mrs. Robbie Jean Harris, Israel M. Fowler, Celeste Dixon and Truman H. Brown.
The bodies of the four were found in a corner of the bedroom in the Harris home. Mrs. Harris' 12-year-old son, was awakened by the shots and saw a man drive away.
Officers said the four had apparently been lined up in the corner of the bedroom before they were shot in the head by bullets from a small caliber gun.
Road blocks were set up as police searched for the slayers, described as about 6 feet tall, average build, graying hair, wearing a black checkered shirt and gray trousers and believed driving a 1957 Pontiac station wagon.