Joseph L. Trueblood (Joseph L. Trueblood)

Joseph L. Trueblood

Joseph L. Trueblood (December 26, 1956 – June 13, 2003), a 46-year-old white male, was executed by lethal injection at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana on June 13, 2003. Trueblood was found guilty of the 1988 murder of Susan Bowsher, a 23-year-old white female, Ashlyn Bowsher, a 2½-year-old white female, and William Bowsher, a 17-month-old white male. Trueblood, who was 31-years old when he committed the capital crime, was sentenced to death on April 12, 1990.  Trueblood, a former boyfriend of Susan Bowsher, was upset with Susan because she was going to return to her ex-husband. Trueblood took a gun from his parents’ house and a few days later on August 15, 1988, he picked up Susan and her two children, Ashlyn and William in Lafayette, Indiana. While they were in his automobile Trueblood shot each of them in the head, killing all three. Trueblood then drove to his brother’s home and borrowed a shovel. He took the victims to a secluded area and buried them in a shallow grave in Tippecanoe County.

On October 6 Trueblood, on the advice of his attorney, pled guilty to Susan’s murder. On December 6, 1989, Trueblood filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied. In February 1990 Trueblood went to trial on the charges of murdering Susan’s children. After several prosecution witnesses testified before the Tippecanoe County jury, Trueblood informed the court that he wanted to plead guilty to the murders of the children. The court took the plea and then discharged the jury.

Within two or three days Trueblood changed his story while giving his version of events to the probation officer for the pre-sentence investigation report. On March 2 Trueblood asked the court to allow him to withdraw the guilty pleas with respect to the children and proceed with a new trial. The trial court denied his request expressly finding that Trueblood was telling the truth when he pled guilty to the murders of the children and was not being truthful about the withdrawal of these pleas. The court subsequently heard from Trueblood’s twin brother, William, who testified that Trueblood had confessed all three murders to him shortly before burying Susan and her children.  On May 28, 2003, the Indiana Parole Board voted 5-0 against a stay of execution. On June 10 the Supreme Court of the United States denied a stay and the next day Governor Frank O’Bannon denied clemency. The following day, the day of execution, the Supreme Court of the United States denied a second request for a stay.


  • December, 26, 1956


  • June, 13, 2003
  • USA
  • Michigan City, Indiana

Cause of Death

  • execution by lethal injection

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