Metro

Vietnam vet, 70, slain in Roxbury was ‘the sweetest person,’ family says

Edward Mowring, who went by Lorenza.
Edward Mowring, who went by Lorenza.

A 70-year-old Vietnam veteran who was fatally stabbed over the weekend in Roxbury was walking to a liquor store to buy beer for a roommate when someone attacked him, his daughter said Tuesday.

“I do hope they can find who did it,” said Natrina Johnson, 47, of Lynn, the daughter of the victim, Edward Mowring, whom friends called Lorenza. “It’s not the way I wanted to see my father die — being murdered.”

Johnson said her father served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, where military records show he earned a Purple Heart, a Combat Action Ribbon, and a Presidential Unit Citation, among other honors. He then worked as a painter before retiring, his daughter said.

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He enjoyed spending time with family and had weekly get-togethers with Johnson’s younger brother.

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“He’s not taking it well at all,” Johnson said of her brother, adding that the killer “did something that was just unnecessary.”

Boston police said Mowring was stabbed multiple times Saturday night in the area of 49 Blue Hill Ave. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No arrests had been made late Tuesday, and a motive had not been disclosed for the killing, which remained under investigation by homicide detectives.

Mowring’s death was the third homicide in Boston in 2019.

Residents of the neighborhood, where many windows are covered with plywood or metal bars, said they had not heard anything Saturday night and didn’t realize anyone had been killed until the police arrived.

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One woman said that she looked out her window to see a man’s feet sticking out from beneath a tarp at the corner of Winthrop Street and Blue Hill Avenue, with officers huddled over him.

Mowring died on the sidewalk less than 100 feet from the three-story house on Winthrop Street where he rented a room, said his friend Charles Gabbidon, 65, who also lives there. Mowring was jovial, Gabbidon said, always hollering at him: “How the hell are ya?!”

Gabbidon said Mowring had passed him Saturday night on his way out the door.

“I’m going to the store,” Mowring told him. “I’ll be right back.”

About two hours later, Gabbidon said, the police showed up asking about his friend. When they told him Mowring was dead, Gabbidon denied it could be true — he argued with detectives, he said, and finally put on his shoes and jacket to walk out the door to see for himself.

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But police told him there was nothing he could do, he said.

“I wish I was there to help him,” Gabbidon said.

Mowring did not have much, Gabbidon said — there was no reason to rob him. He had cashed in some bottles a day or so before he was killed, but he was on a fixed income. And he was frail, Gabbidon said.

“If you push him too hard, he might fall down and break something,” he said.

As a veteran, Mowring was a hero in Gabbidon’s eyes, he said.

“Somebody who would give up his life for this country died on the sidewalk?” Gabbidon shook his head. “It’s a shame.”

Mowring’s family could not imagine a reason anyone would kill him.

“He didn’t have any problems with anyone,” Johnson said. “He was a good person. I just felt like he got caught somewhere at the wrong time. . . . I’m trying to hang in there. I just wish I could get some answers, because it is frustrating.”

She added that Mowring in 2017 buried a son, Tran Lozen Johnson, 47, who had cancer.

“Now this,” Natrina Johnson said. Her father leaves five surviving children, she said.

Mowring’s sister-in-law, Rosemary Mowring, also was at a loss Tuesday to discern who may have targeted her relative, whom she described as “the sweetest person.”

“I don’t know who would even want to do something like that to him,” she said in a brief phone interview. “He really kept to himself. I don’t understand what happened. I don’t think there was anybody that wanted to hurt him.”

Sergeant Detective John Boyle, a Police Department spokesman, said the investigation remains active and urged any witnesses to contact the authorities.

Anyone with information is urged to call detectives at 617-343-4470 or the department’s anonymous CrimeStoppers line at 800-494-TIPS, or by texting the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).“

Jeremiah Manion and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.