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A Rocky Mount funeral home owner who pleaded guilty in 2008 to convincing his mistress to kill his wife has died in prison about four years before his sentence was set to expire, prison officials said Monday.
Mark Anthony Bowling, 47, died Friday at Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton. Jerry Higgins, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction, said Bowling died of natural causes.
Bowling was serving a 19-year, 8-month sentence for second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the December 2006 slaying of his wife, 45-year-old Julie Rowland Bowling. His projected release date was Aug. 31, 2022.
Prosecutors said Mark Bowling and Rose Deloris Vincent of Middlesex plotted to kill Julie Bowling, with Vincent carrying out the crime while the victim’s husband was on an out-of-state scuba diving trip.
Vincent pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and received a 29-year sentence in an arrangement with prosecutors. She was expected to testify against Mark Bowling, but he accepted a plea agreement on the sixth day of his October 2008 trial.
Before pleading guilty, Bowling had claimed he was innocent ever since his wife was found dead in the couple’s garage on Dec. 8, 2006.
Vincent, a married mother of three, told authorities that Bowling asked her several times to kill his wife so he could collect on a life insurance policy she purchased one month prior to her murder. She said Bowling gave her the weapon and offered her $50,000 to kill his wife. Vincent said she did not care about the money.
“He said this was the only way we could be together,” Vincent said in her confession. “He’s promised me everything under the sun, but all I wanted was to be with him.”
Prosecutors said Vincent’s testimony, knowledge of the life insurance policy and cellphone records would have been enough to convict Bowling.
Mark Bowling was the owner of Bowling Funeral Home & Crematory, with locations in Rocky Mount, Enfield and Scotland Neck.
Vincent remains incarcerated at the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh and has a projected release date of May 26, 2035.
Since her sentence began in February 2008, Vincent has been tagged with 13 inmate infractions including self-injury, theft of property, assault on an inmate by throwing liquids, selling or misusing medication and interfering with staff. The most recent infraction was in January 2014.
Editor’s Note: Background information for this story was republished from the archives of The Wilson Times and The Enterprise of Spring Hope.