Long Island Man Charged with Butchering Woman’s Body with Ax

Last Updated on July 9, 2024

A Suffolk County man was charged Monday for allegedly using an ax to dismember and dispose of a woman’s body.

Newsday reported Gary Cowell, a 72-year-old black man, pleaded not guilty to felonious concealment of a human corpse and tampering with physical evidence for the moments leading up to the death of 56-year-old Yvette Leonard, both of Patchogue, New York.

“Rather than attempt to render aid to her, rather than call for medical assistance or call the police, [Cowell] took an ax and butchered Ms. Leonard into four pieces,” Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Kieran Rogers told Justice Anthony Senft.

According to law enforcement officials, the remains were found on Montauk Highway in East Patchogue. Cowell confessed to using the ax and showed law enforcement the whereabouts of the remains.

ADA Rogers alleges Cowell intended to slow detectives amid a “massive widespread investigation” into Leonard’s location. He believes Cowell was with Leonard when she died — between June 14 and 21. Newsday reported officials are still unsure how she exactly died.

Cowell is represented by Commack-based attorney Jeremy Scileppi, who argued that Cowell did not hinder the investigation but “told a consistent story with respect to what happened.”

Concerning Leonard’s discovery, her mother, Nancy Davis, told Newsday she utilized social media after her daughter’s roommate discovered Leonard was missing. When she found her cigarettes and an uncashed check inside her home, she knew, “I don’t think she’s alive.”

Justice Senft retained bail for Cowell at $1 million cash bail, $2 million bond, or $10 million partially secured bond, reported Newsday. Cowell faces life in prison as a repeated felony offender. He has four felonies and two misdemeanors, said the prosecutor. Additionally, state prison records indicate Cowell served 15 years for robbery and burglary between 1991 and 2013.

No Bail for NY Man Charged in Dismemberment Murder

On July 25, he will be back in court.

Four Suspected of Killing and Dismembering Human Corpses Released on NY Bail Reform


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