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May 28, 2022

Man admits to beating chiropractor to death and assaulting an investigating Bensalem detective

Joseph O'Boyle, 23, was captured on surveillance footage entering and leaving James Sowa's home office on the morning the crime was committed

Investigations Homicide
Bensalem Chiropractor Homicide Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Joseph O'Boyle, 23, of Bensalem, has pleaded guilty to killing his chiropractor James Sowa in 2020 and assaulting a detective who was executing a search warrant at his home.

A Bucks County man has pleaded guilty to beating his chiropractor to death and assaulting a detective who was investigating the homicide, District Attorney Matt Weintraub announced.

Joseph O'Boyle, 23, of Bensalem, entered James Sowa's home and office at 3161 Hulmeville Road on Nov. 2, 2020 and hit the chiropractor in the back of the head three times with a blunt object, fracturing his skull in two places, authorities say.

Once Sowa was incapacitated, O'Boyle repeatedly rammed the blunt object into the chiropractor's jaw, which is what authorities say ultimately killed him.

Although O'Boyle had been treated by Sowa in September of that year, he did not have an appointment with him on the day of the crime.

He saw the chiropractor for his jaw pain, but O'Boyle's relatives told authorities he believed the treatment was unsuccessful. He wanted to sue Sowa for making his pain worse.

Sowa was found dead later that day.

Investigators reviewed surveillance footage which showed O'Boyle walking up Sowa's driveway shortly after 8:30 a.m. He walked out of the camera's view, then reemerged a minute later and could be seen fleeing down the driveway.

Detectives linked their suspect to a white Nissan Altima and captured the license plate number through surveillance footage. The car was registered to O'Boyle's residence on Byberry Road in Bensalem.

Police had responded to that home months earlier when O'Boyle allegedly punched his father after refusing to take his depression medication.

O'Boyle's father confronted him about what happened to Sowa in the days following the homicide, which authorities say agitated O'Boyle and made him rub his jaw.

When his father asked about Sowa a second time, O'Boyle admitted to the homicide.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for the home on Nov. 10. They found a packed suitcase in O'Boyle's bedroom.

While investigators were there, he lunged at a detective and punched him in the head multiple times. It took several officers to restrain O'Boyle. The detective who was assaulted received medical treatment, including for a possible concussion.

O'Boyle was charged with homicide and trespassing in the Sowa case and aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest in the officer's case.

He pleaded guilty to all the charges on Friday. He has a hearing on June 6 to determine the degree of his homicide charge.