Bensalem Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Dr, Assaulting Detective
A 23-year-old man pleaded guilty on Friday, to killing Dr. James Sowa inside the chiropractor’s home office in Bensalem in November 2020.
Joseph O’Boyle, of Bensalem, entered an open guilty plea to criminal homicide, criminal trespassing, and possession of an instrument of crime before President Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr.
O’Boyle has a hearing on June 6 to determine the degree of homicide for sentencing.
In a second case where O’Boyle assaulted a Bensalem detective investigating the homicide, O’Boyle pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and simple assault. O’Boyle will be sentenced for both cases at a later date.
The killing of Dr. Sowa was investigated by Detectives with the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Bensalem Township Police Department, with the assistance of the Bucks County Investigating Grand Jury.
Dr. Sowa, 64, was found dead at his home and chiropractic office, located at 3161 Hulmeville Road, on Nov. 2, 2020. Dr. Sowa was found in the kitchen, but blood was found throughout the home and in his business office.
The investigation found that O’Boyle entered Dr. Sowa’s chiropractic office on Nov. 2, without an appointment, and attacked Dr. Sowa by hitting him three times on the back of the head with a blunt object, with two of those strikes fracturing his skull.
While Dr. Sowa was incapacitated on the floor, O’Boyle repeatedly struck Dr. Sowa’s jaw area with a blunt object or rammed his jaw area with a blunt object. Those blows caused Dr. Sowa’s death.
Dr. Sowa’s records showed O’Boyle had been a patient of his in September 2020. O’Boyle’s relatives said O’Boyle was upset about the treatment he received that day for jaw pain, telling them he wanted to sue Dr. Sowa for making his pain worse.
Through their investigation, detectives were able to determine Dr. Sowa’s last known contact with anyone was at 7:46 a.m., on Nov. 2, when he talked to his wife on the phone. He called his voicemail at 7:52 a.m., and then Dr. Sowa began missing several business and personal calls, starting around 9:49 a.m. that day, the investigation found.
Detectives reviewed surveillance cameras in the area, which showed O’Boyle walking up the driveway to Dr. Sowa’s home, disappearing at 8:32 a.m., and re-emerging from where he disappeared less than a minute later. He then ran back down the driveway and fled.
Through surveillance footage, O’Boyle was connected to a white Nissan Altima.
Surveillance cameras captured the Altima’s license plate number, which was registered to 2255 Byberry Road. Bensalem police records found a response to that home months earlier when O’Boyle allegedly punched his father because O’Boyle refused to take his depression medication.
In the days after the homicide, O’Boyle’s father confronted him about what had happened to Dr. Sowa, and he became agitated and began rubbing his jaw. His father contacted an attorney. When his father confronted him again about his involvement in Dr. Sowa’s death, O’Boyle admitted to killing Dr. Sowa.
Detectives obtained and served a search warrant at O’Boyle’s residence on Nov. 10, 2020, and they observed a suitcase packed with clothes on the floor of O’Boyle’s bedroom.
Without provocation, O’Boyle lunged at a Bensalem detective and punched him in the head multiple times, and it took several officers to take him into custody. As a result of the assault, the detective received medical treatment and went through protocol for a possible concussion.
The homicide was investigated by the Bensalem Police Department and Bucks County Detectives. Deputy District Attorney Megan Hunsicker and Assistant District Attorney Christine Sassane prosecuted the case.