Synagogue shooter’s father was found dead in Tionesta in 1979

Forest County Coroner Norm Wimer recently unearthed a local connection to Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The father of shooting suspect Robert Bowers, Randall George Bowers, committed suicide near the Tionesta Dam in October 1979.

“I have confirmed this is the father of the alleged perpetrator surrounding the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh,” Wimer said Thursday. “This information was turned over to the FBI from my office.”

A coroner’s report from 1979 says Randall Bowers, 26 at the time, was found under a picnic table near Tionesta Dam on Oct. 21, 1979. It was estimated he was found four to seven days after his death.

“He was ID’d by his aunts,” Wimer said, reading from the report. “His mental state was one of depression, as indicated by anti-depressant drugs found at the scene, confirmed by his aunts.”

A sheriff’s report at the time said Randall Bowers died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

“Apparently this guy had criminal charges against him,” Wimer said. “It appears that he was on his way to a jail term.”

A newspaper report from that time indicates that Randall Bowers was awaiting trial for rape.

A Forest County coroner’s report from 1979 said Randall Bowers was 26 at the time of his death and that he lived at 371 Negley Ave. in Pittsburgh. Robert Bowers was 7 at the time.

Wimer said Randall Bowers had no known connection to the Tionesta area. An article in the Oct. 23, 1979, issue of The News-Herald said he was known to have camped in the area.