Murder suspect is on the run after fatally shooting a father, cops say

Johnny Ray Owsley
Johnny Ray Owsley

A first-degree murder suspect remains at large almost a week after the fatal shooting of a Winter Haven father.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says Johnny Ray Owsley’s murder of 35-year-old Adam Thrower, called “Cook” by friends, involved Owsley’s estranged girlfriend. But the warrant for Owsley, 32, is for first-degree murder, indicating more icy execution than crime of hot passion.

As the sheriff’s office describes the encounter, Owsley came home Monday afternoon to find his estranged girlfriend in the house with Thrower, whom she had invited over. Owsley ordered Thrower, a father of one daughter, out of the house.

The two men walked out togther before Owsley shot Thrower several times in the chest and back. Owsley drove off in a green Dodge pickup, leaving Thrower to die outside his house, at the corner of Avenue J NW and 25th Street NW.

Owsley is described as six feet and 180 pounds. The sheriff’s office says he was last seen driving a black 2004 Dodge Durango with a Florida license plate BTJS12. He doesn’t have a concealed weapons permit, but deputies say he should be considered armed and dangerous and shouldn’t be approached if seen.

Anyone who sees Owsley or has information on where he is can contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200 or call 911. Heartland Crime Stoppers is offering a possible reward at 800-226-8477 (TIPS).

Thrower’s funeral is Sunday, 3:30 p.m., at Lakeship Baptist Church, 92 High St. in Winter Haven.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal