Patient pleads guilty to beating chiropractor to death over worsening jaw pain

Joseph O'Boyle (left) and Dr. James Sowa (right). Getty

On Friday, a 23-year-old Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty to killing his chiropractor at his home in November 2020.

According to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, Joseph O’Boyle pleaded guilty to criminal homicide, criminal trespassing and possession of an instrument of crime in relation to the murder of Dr. James Sowa.

On Nov. 2, 2020, Sowa, 64, was found brutally murdered in his kitchen in Bensalem, Pa., though the gory crime scene included blood found throughout the house, also in the chiropractor’s home office.

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A review of Sowa’s patient files informed authorities that O’Boyle had been the doctor’s patient in September 2020. O’Boyle’s family later told police the man was disappointed with the treatment received from Sowa for jaw pain.

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The family told the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office that O’Boyle wanted to sue Sowa for allegedly making his jaw pain worse.

Police reported that O’Boyle entered the home of the chiropractor without an appointment and attacked Sowa by hitting him three times on the back of the head with a blunt object. Two of the three blows fractured Sowa’s skull.

The police report claims that while Sowa was incapacitated on the floor, O’Boyle struck Sowa’s jaw area with a blunt object, causing his death.

Surveillance footage from the area showed O’Boyle walking up the driveway of Sowa’s home in the early morning hours on the day of the attack, police say.

It took police several days to arrest O’Boyle in relation to the case.

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Police also allege that in the days following the attack, O’Boyle’s father confronted him about Sowa’s murder. He told police his son became agitated with the questioning and “began rubbing his jaw.”

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O’Boyle’s father then contacted a lawyer and confronted his son again about the death of Sowa. This time, O’Boyle admitted to killing Sowa, local authorities reported.

When police arrived at the O’Boyle residence on Nov. 10, 2020, police say O’Boyle lunged at a Bensalem detective and punched him in the head multiple times.

Along with his murder confession, O’Boyle also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and simple assault, all in the second case of the attacked detective.

At the time of the assault on the local detective, police also claim they found a packed suitcase of clothing in O’Boyle’s bedroom.

O’Boyle will be in court on June 6 to determine the degree of homicide for sentencing.

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