Great Mills Man Murders His Estranged Wife in Lexington Park

Protective order fails to protect woman

On September 13, 2004 at approximately 9:20 p.m., the St. Mary's County Emergency Operations Center received a 911 call from a female in Lexington Park. She advised that a male, identified by her as John Dickens, had shown up outside a residence on Manon Way and physically forced his estranged wife, Darlene Dowsey, into the residence while holding a handgun to her head. Moments after the witness called 911, Dickens fled the residence with the handgun. As numerous police units converged on the area, the Emergency Operations Center received a second call from an uninvolved neighbor stating a male by the name of "John" had shown up at his house and asked the neighbor to contact the police, who were "looking for" him. As police units responded to Dickens' location, other police units entered the Manon Way residence where they located Darlene Michelle Dowsey, 34, of Lexington Park, deceased as the result of a single gunshot to her head. The suspect was located at the neighboring residence where he surrendered to police without incident. The suspect was identified as John Otha Dickens, 38, of Great Mills. The handgun used in the crime was recovered by police.

Further investigation revealed that at the time of this incident there was a current St. Mary's County court issued Protective Order against Dickens ordering him not to enter or come near the Manon Way residence of the victim or have any contact whatsoever with victim Dowsey. Dickens had previously violated that order one day earlier on September 12, 2004 at 2:02 a.m. when he confronted Dowsey at the Happyland Club in Valley Lee and an argument ensued. Police were contacted at that time and Dickens was subsequently arrested and charged with Violation of a Protective Order. Dickens was released several hours later on personal recognizance.

Dickens is currently incarcerated at The St. Mary's County Detention Center without bond on charges of First Degree Murder and Violation of a Protective Order. The investigation is continuing by the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

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