Pennsylvania man who sought treatment for jaw pain kills chiropractor by striking him in the jaw

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A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty to criminal homicide and other charges on Friday for murdering a chiropractor in November 2020. 

Joseph O’Boyle, 23, will be sentenced in the coming months for criminal homicide, criminal trespassing, and possession of an instrument of crime. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault, as well as recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and simple assault, for punching a detective who was investigating the chiropractor’s murder. 

Dr. James Sowa, 64, was found dead inside his home and chiropractic office on Nov. 2 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a town about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia. 

Joseph O'Boyle, 23, pleaded guilty to killing Dr. James Sowa, a chiropractor who had treated O'Boyle two months before the murder. 

Joseph O’Boyle, 23, pleaded guilty to killing Dr. James Sowa, a chiropractor who had treated O’Boyle two months before the murder.  (Buck’s County District Attorney’s Office)

O’Boyle had been a patient of Sowa’s two months earlier and blamed the chiropractor for worsening his jaw pain, according to his relatives. 

Surveillance video captured O’Boyle pulling up to Sowa’s office on the morning of the murder without an appointment and spending just one minute inside before fleeing the scene. 

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O’Boyle struck Sowa three times on the back of the head, fracturing his skull, according to investigators. While Sowa was on the ground, O’Boyle then struck his jaw area with a blunt object multiple times. 

Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub called the murder “poetic perverse irony” because O’Boyle attacked Sowa in the same area of the body that he was seeking treatment for, according to Fox 29 Philadelphia. 

Dr. James Sowa, 64, was murdered by Joseph O'Boyle in November 2020. 

Dr. James Sowa, 64, was murdered by Joseph O’Boyle in November 2020.  (Buck’s County District Attorney’s Office)

Following the murder, O’Boyle’s father confronted him about Sowa’s death and the 23-year-old “became agitated and began rubbing his jaw,” according to the district attorney. O’Boyle later admitted to his father that he murdered Sowa. 

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Eight days after the killing, investigators served a search warrant at O’Boyle’s home, where O’Boyle lunged at a detective and punched him in the head multiple times. 

O’Boyle is due back in court on June 6 for a hearing to determine the degree of homicide. A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date.