A DNA test was ordered today for a 58-year-old businessman and founder of an Adams County software company accused of killing his former business partner.
Adams County District Judge Francis Wasserman this morning also set an April 9 preliminary hearing for William Rex Fowler, who appeared in court shackled and wearing surgical scrubs.
Fowler allegedly shot and killed 42-year-old Thomas Ciancio on Dec. 30 at Fowler Software Design. Investigators say Fowler shot Ciancio three times in the head with a 9mm Glock handgun when Cianco came to the business to collect $9,900 in severance pay.
Ciancio, who was Fowler Software’s chief operating officer, resigned Nov. 23 in a dispute over the way the company was being managed.
Fowler’s wife, Janet, reportedly told investigators that her husband is a Scientologist “and would not have gone without a fight.”
She also demanded investigators return a briefcase found in Fowler’s office, saying that it contained materials related to her church.
According to the arrest affidavit, police said Ciancio’s brother gave investigators four binders of Scientology materials that Fowler had given to Ciancio, asking him to study the religion.
Fowler is charged with premeditated, first-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 30 shooting of Ciancio, who had gone to Fowler Software Design to receive a $9,900 severance payment, according to an investigator’s statement supporting Fowler’s arrest warrant.
Ciancio was shot three times in the head with a 9mm Glock handgun that Fowler received as a 2007 Christmas present from his son, the arrest affidavit stated.
Investigators said Fowler survived a gunshot wound from a bullet that entered under his chin and exited the top of his head.
Employees told investigators that Ciancio quit the software firm in November because he was upset that Fowler had allegedly taken $200,000 from the company “without permission and gave it to a church or some type of charity,” the arrest warrant affidavit said.
Fowler’s arrest warrant report has been published on several Web sites critical of Scientology, a religion popular among some Hollywood film stars which was founded in the 1950s by the late science fiction author, L. Ron Hubbard.
Fowler, who goes by Rex, has described himself as a Scientology minister and publicly praised the rewards of his 36-year commitment to the faith.
Fowler left a note dated the day of the shooting with a briefcase containing Scientology information in his office. He instructed whoever found the note to “please give the briefcase to Jan,” referring to his wife, according to the arrest affidavit.
When detectives asked Fowler’s wife to speak with them at the hospital she “quickly demanded the briefcase.”
“One thing I need is his briefcase,” Janet Fowler told detectives, according to the court record. “It was taken out of his office. It is important to me, my church, and it is religious material and I want it now!”
Detective Gene Claps explained to Janet Fowler that investigators needed to review the contents of the briefcase.
“Even if you looked at it and read it, you would not understand anything in it,” the wife replied, the arrest affidavit stated. “Because it is way above a normal person and you would not know what it meant.”
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