A Grandson’s Confession: Chronicling a double murder in northeast Arkansas

Special Reports

RANDOLPH COUNTY, Ark.- On July 14, 2018, the discovery of a husband and wife dead inside a rural northeast Arkansas home sparked a double murder investigation that would eventually lead investigators to the couple’s own grandson.

Jessica Patterson moved to Pocahontas six years ago to be near her parents, Ricky and Rita Bozwell.

Originally from Iowa, the Bozwells had settled in nicely. They joined a tractor club, a church, and built a network of friends.

Patterson says the couple was creatures of habit, and a weekly visit to a local steakhouse became routine.

“The fish buffet was on Thursday nights, so they went there every Thursday night with their best friends,” Patterson says.

However, on July 14,  that predictable dinner date served up suspicion. 

Ricky and Rita were nowhere to be found and attempts to contact them repeatedly failed. 

“I knew something was wrong,” Patterson says. “I knew something was off, but I didn’t want to face it. I didn’t want to go there. “

Come Friday night, concerns shifted to panic. Jessica took the gravel road down Sue Lane to check on the house, and everything was locked up. To her knowledge, the only other person who had been by recently was her 25-year-old son, Nick. 

On Saturday as police showed up, Nick his girlfriend emerged from the home, with the bodies of his grandparents inside. Body camera footage reveals the emotional turmoil.

Lieutenant Justin Eversmeyer with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first on the scene; and inside of the house, he came across what he described as one of the worst crime scenes he’s ever investigated.

“It appeared that Mr. Bozwell had been shot in the head with a rifle,” Lt. Eversmeyer says. “The grandmother, Rita Bozwell, there was a knife lying beside her… I’m going to guess maybe they had been there for three or four days.” 

Jessica was devastated.

“You know, you lose your parents, you’re in shock anyway, but to lose both of them and to lose them in that way… [it was the] worst day of my life,” she says.

All the attention quickly turned to Nick and his girlfriend, Alexis, who told the authorities that she and Nick had been staying at the house that week.

She said she noticed a foul smell that only got worse as the days progressed, and her curiosity led her to Rita’s bedroom door.

Describing the scene to investigators, Alexis said, “I walked in there, and I opened the door a little bit… I was looking up to make sure she wasn’t on the bed, dead or anything, and I — when I got ready to close the door I looked down, and she [Rita] was on the floor, and I slung the door and everything and ran out.”  

As Alexis’s account solidified, Nick’s story began to crumble. 

About halfway through his interrogation, the detective in charge successfully utilized the “good cop, bad cop” routine.

In an emotional confession, Nick told authorities that it all came down to a black pickup truck in front of the home. His grandfather wouldn’t let him use it after Nick asked to on Tuesday, causing Nick’s anger to boil over into a murderous rage.  

Last month, the now 26-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 110 years in state prison without the possibility of parole. 

“I lost three people that day,” Patterson says through tears.

Jessica now finds herself grieving the loss of her parents while her son sits in jail for it.

“That’s the hardest thing I struggle with,” Patterson says. “As I told him, I said ‘I love you, but I haven’t forgiven you.’ It’s too soon. I’m not ready.” 

On occasion, Jessica stops by a city park to peacefully admire the scenic views.

As of this summer, she knows there’s always a seat waiting for her. The local tractor club placed a bench at the park, fitted with Rick and Rita’s names and photo.

“In memory of Mom and Dad,” Patterson says. “They touched a lot of people.”

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