Dispute over driveway led to killing

Neighbors: Slain man 'couldn’t get along with nobody'
Feb. 09, 2013 @ 08:01 AM

The rain Thursday fell cold and steady as darkness began to settle in when Mae Cline in her living room was startled by the sound of two gunshots from behind her mobile home off Kistler Lane. Thinking it was just hunters, she shrugged off the noise.

“I heard a boom and thought, what is that?” she said. “It wasn’t a pistol or a rifle shot. I didn’t think anything about it.”

Minutes later, she saw patrol cars with lights flashing whizzing down the gravel-and-dirt road.

“I didn’t know what was happening, so I locked the door and waited for my grandson,” she said.

Just yards away, Danny Marlin Bowman, 67, lay dead in his car from a 20-guage shotgun blast. Investigators say Bowman was shot just before 5:30 p.m. by 71-year-old Ralph Barker. He now is held in the Caldwell County Detention Center on a charge of murder.

The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office says a dispute over the use of a driveway led to the shooting. Bowman lived nearby, at 4930 Kistler Lane.

Neighbors say disputes with Bowman were not uncommon.

“He’s kind of a rough person,” Cline said.

“He couldn’t get along with nobody around here,” said Opal Herman, who lives up the hill from both Barker and Bowman. “Most people would just stay away from him.”

For years, she said, Bowman took water from her well without paying. She put up a fence just to keep him off her property.

“We cut his water off,” she said. “He was doing it before we bought this place. He was real upset after that. He threatened to bring a tractor up here and tear stuff up.”

Barker bought property on Kistler lane six years ago from Betty Jean Kistler, the mother of Bowman's estranged wife, Margo. Kistler and Margo Bowman live farther up Kistler Lane.

Kistler said that sheriff’s deputies came to her house Thursday night and said that her her son-in-law was dead. Margo Bowman tried to go there but was denied access. Margo Bowman declined to comment further about her husband’s death.

Cline remembers Barker in a different light than Bowman.

“He is one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet,” Cline said. “He’s not well; he’s on oxygen. When I saw them put handcuffs on him and put him in the car, I was heartbroken. I hate they charged him with murder.”

Barker is scheduled to appear in Caldwell District Court on Monday.