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Convicted Wife Killer Admits to Cold Case Murder of First Spouse

By DNAinfo Staff on March 12, 2012 8:12pm  | Updated on March 12, 2012 8:19pm

File photo of a NYPD patrol car.
File photo of a NYPD patrol car.
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MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A Westchester man convicted of killing his second wife admitted to killing his pregnant first spouse more than two decades after her nude and decapitated body was found on the rooftop of their Hamilton Heights building, prosecutors said Monday.

Philip Ward, 45, appeared in court on Monday to face a second-degree murder charge for the death of his 21-year-old wife Veronica Bowen in February 1989.

The couple met as teenagers at a group foster home and had two children, prosecutors said. But they had a history of domestic violence and Bowen had moved out to try to get away.

Prosecutors say Ward — who is serving 20 years to life for killing his second wife, Sheila Jackson — in Westchester — was suspected of the grisly killing of Bowen at his West 148th Street building, but the evidence did not lead to an arrest until the case was reopened by the DA's Cold Case Unit and the NYPD. 

"I am responsible for the death of Veronica Bowen," he allegedly told authorities when confronted in prison last month.

Prosecutors said that he was upset because she was pregnant with another man's child.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. credited his office's Cold Case Unit and the NYPD with solving the vicious crime.

"Cold cases are not forgotten cases, and hopefully, this will bring a small measure of closure to the victim’s family after 23 years,” Vance said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear why Ward admitted to the crime after so many years.

In 1994, five years after killing his first wife Bowen, he murdered his second wife, Jackson, in Westchester County. Ward admitted to shooting the woman in front of her two daughters, including an 11-year-old girl that he raped after she tried to stop the bloodshed.

Ward's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment. He faces another 25 years to life if convicted in this case.