JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local mother says she is afraid for her life because of threats from her former lover -- a married officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Missy Whiddon faced off in court this week with Officer Howsey Bowers as she sought an injunction against him after the two had been dating for two months.
Her attorney used dozens of controversial text messages as evidence, but a Duval County Judge Virginia Norton dismissed the case against Bowers, finding that Whiddon had not proven she had good reason to fear for her life and was instead engaged in rough sex role play with Bowers.
“He's saying in court that it was just a fantasy. You don't fantasize about killing people,” Whiddon said. “It wasn't a joke. It's not a joke now, and he's taken a lot. I hope JSO does something to him.”
Bowers is under an internal affairs investigation and has been reassigned to temporary desk duty.
“Every day he was telling me he wanted to bust my lip, black my eyes. He even told me he wanted to rape me at my daughter's house,” Whiddon said.
The I-TEAM obtained copies of some of Bowers' texts to Whiddon, containing graphic language. Those texts included:
- “I'm gona beat the *** out u if you keep on"
- "U need to dress how i want u to"
- "When I bust ur lip u keep ur mouth shut about it"
- “Take that beating one time and I'll trust u"
- "When I beat u we will see if u can be trusted when u gota black eye "
- "This **** is knock u out and rape u in her bed"
- "She moved away after i put my gun in her mouth and blew her brains out”
- “Do u wana die”
Bowers admitted in court to sending the text messages, but when questioned by his lawyer, he said that he never meant to carry out the threats in an abusive way.
“Those were nothing more than fantasy games. Like I said, she participated in it just as much as I did,” Bowers said.
Bowers' attorney argued that the problem was Whiddon had saved some messages and deleted others.
“I have nothing to hide,” Whiddon said. “Like I said, I told his attorney and the detectives they could go pull all my records. I have nothing.”
But Norton agreed with the defense, finding the case came down to rough sex between consenting adults.
“I was angry at the judge, very angry, and disappointed, because she's a woman. How would she feel if a man did this to her or her grand kids or her daughter?” Whiddon said. “If you're not in the situation, you wouldn't know how I would feel until it happens to you. I'm very intimidated by this man.”
Whiddon said that fear is why she continued to have sex with Bowers even after some of the threatening messages.
“I was scared. Like I said, if I didn't talk to him, he would come up to my job,” Whiddon said. “He has a badge. He has a gun.”
She said the relationship started off intimately, but quickly soured.
“He flips,” Whiddon said. “One minute he's OK, and one minute he's angry.”
A representative from the JSO Integrity Unit also testified and said investigators found Bowers hadn't committed a crime with the texts.
The I-TEAM found from internal JSO records that in 22 years on the force, Bowers has had 11 complaints lodged against him, but not all of them were sustained.
Some citizen complaints against him that were sustained include rudeness, unbecoming conduct and unnecessary force.
All of the cases against Bowers are closed except for Whiddon's, which is still under internal JSO investigation.
Whiddon said she hopes Sheriff Mike Williams hears her story and considers what kind of man his employee is.
“Just how dangerous this man is. He needs help,” Whiddon said. “He does not need to be on the force at all. He's not representing JSO in a good way.”
The I-TEAM contacted the Sheriff's Office for comment, but a spokesperson said that the department can't comment on ongoing internal affairs investigations.
Bowers' attorney provided the following statement when asked for comment:
That's why we have the system in place to hear both sides, and the judge heard all the evidence. The judge was able to observe a video of her on September 5th having normal interactions at her place of employment to which was the day Mr. Bowers testified he ended the relationship and she waited some time after that to file the restraining order."