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'He would have killed me' | One of the most wanted men in Tennessee is still missing

Around nine months later, Andrea Bowling said she can't find peace. The man who tried to kill her has still not been located or locked up.

SCOTT COUNTY, Tenn. — It's been almost nine months since Phillip Ross Bowling fled from a halfway house, violated an order of protection, threatened to kill his wife and managed to dodge deputies.

On August 2, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added Bowling to its most-wanted list. The TBI is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to his arrest.

Although the whirlwind of events happened nearly nine months ago Andrea Bowling, Phillip's wife, said she remembers it like it was yesterday. She said she lives in fear that he might return.

The Bowling's relationship wasn't always as it is now. Andrea said they were very happy together. The two got married in 1998 and saved up enough to buy a farm in 2017.

"Our dream for 10 years was to move here and have animals, raise goats and Great Pyrenees," Andrea said.

Both Andrea and Phillip had a mind for business. Andrea opened a hair and beauty salon on the property, and Phillip planned to open a butcher shop.

They officially moved around two years ago, and that's when things changed. According to Andrea, Phillip fractured his back moving some things. That fracture led to his first prescription.

"That's how it started," Andrea said. "It took a while before I realized how bad things had gotten. And, it just kind of escalated into what it became."

Phillips' behavior changed as he started recreationally using opioids, she said. He started missing work and sleeping all day.

"We went from having a really large income and making good money to all of a sudden, it was becoming hard to pay bills and things like that," Andrea said.

Then, Phillip broke in and stole jewelry from Andrea's mother's house. At that point, Andrea alerted the Scott County Sheriff's Department.

"We just wanted him to get help. We wanted the old Philip back is all we wanted," Andrea said. 

Phillip went to jail and then to a rehabilitation center for the first time.

Credit: WBIR

From that center, Phillip wrote to Andrea with apologies and promises to change. However, when he returned home, Andrea said he only managed to avoid drugs for about two weeks.

"He had convinced me that he had gotten the help he needed and that things were going to be different," Andrea said. "So, I did allow him to come back home. And it was probably the worst 6 months of my life when he came back."

According to Andrea, Phillip was frustrated at her for getting him arrested. That anger grew into arguments, stealing money, selling off expensive items from within their home and refusing to listen to any confrontation.

She said one time, during an argument, Phillip picked up a hammer and started walking toward her.

"I could tell he was angry. I proceeded to just back away from him. And I told him, I was like, 'Put that down. Just calm down. Please.'  And he just kept coming towards me, to the point where I just took off running," she said.

Phillip cornered Andrea at a fence, and that's when deputies arrested him for the second time. He was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment, according to the arrest records from Scott County Sheriff's Department.

Phillip went to jail, then to a halfway house in Knoxville. Andrea filed for divorce and took out a 5 year Order of Protection. However, that didn't stop Phillip from coming back. 

Phillip escaped the halfway house and found his way back to Scott County. He violated the order of protection and showed up at the house with a rifle.

"He just he pointed it at me and he said, 'I'm killing myself, and you're coming with me,'" Andrea said. "I guess the only thing that I could remember going through my mind was my kids. I said, 'Just don't do this to our kids, please."

Phillip held Andrea at gunpoint until one of Andrea's clients, Jessica Jeffries, showed up for a hair appointment.

Andrea said it was "by the grace of God."

Jessica said so too.

"I really think if Andrea would have walked off to wherever he wanted her to go, I think he would have killed her. There's not a doubt in my mind, he would have killed her that day," Jessica said.

The two women were able to talk Phillip down from making any irrational decisions with the rifle in his hands. It also gave them time to signal to a nearby neighbor that they needed the help of law enforcement to de-escalate the situation, Andrea said.

According to Andrea and Jessica, when the deputy arrived at the home, Phillip fled the home through the back door.

"We took off out the front door, and jumped in the police car. But, there was just one officer that was called to our house," Andrea said.

That was the last anybody reported seeing Phillip.

"I just want everything that can be done for him to be found. I just want it to be done," Andrea said.

Around nine months later, she carries around a pistol in her purse for protection and she said she fears going outside to feed her animals alone. She also said she refuses to walk around at night unaccompanied.

In August, TBI took over the case. They added Phillip Ross Bowling to its most-wanted list.

TBI said they have conducted several searches and have an agent on the case. Andrea said she and some of her close friends and family members have tried to conduct their own searches, as well.

However, until Phillip is located or locked away, Andrea feels like she can't live a normal life.

"I'm constantly looking over my shoulder. If he is not alive, I want to be able to bury him. I need that closure, my kids need that closure. I need to be able to, you know, put my pistol up and be able to come outside," Andrea said.

TBI is offering a $2,500 reward for a tip that leads to the arrest of Phillip Ross Bowling.

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