Murder of Anita Cowen by her tenant Scott Pettigrew examined on ID

Mugshot of Scott Pettigrew
Scott Pettigrew was sentenced to 25 years to life for murdering Anita Cowen. Pic credit: Cathedral City Police Dept.

Doom for Rent on ID is investigating the murder of landlady Anita Cowen by her tenant, Scott Edmund Pettigrew, at their home in Cathedral City, California, in 2016.

On the evening of June 14, 2016, the police were dispatched to the home of 66-year-old Cowen, where she was found unresponsive, lying face down in her backyard pool. Parademics attempted to revive her, but sadly, she died a short time later.

Cowen had suffered multiple blunt force trauma, and her face, back, and shoulders were covered in cuts and bruises. And large chunks of her hair had been ripped out.

When police officers entered the house, they found her roommate, Pettigrew, lying naked in his bedroom. His soaking wet clothes were piled up at the end of his bed. And his face and hands were covered in scratches, indicating he’d been involved in a scuffle.

Anita Cowen had a restraining order against Pettigrew

The investigators learned that Cowen had had a restraining order against Pettigrew approved just a few days before her murder. Pettigrew had been ordered to move out of the house and keep a five-yard distance from Cowen.

The victim had spoken of how her relationship with her tenant had been difficult from the very beginning. She claimed he had never paid more than one month’s rent, had allowed his dogs to urinate in the house, had vomited in the bathroom without cleaning it up, and had generally made her life unbearable.

Cowen helped convict her killer from beyond the grave. The landlady had placed a tape recorder under the kitchen table, which recorded the sound of her being attacked. On the tape, the police could hear sounds of an escalating scuffle, and the voice of Pettigrew could also be heard.

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Cowen can be heard yelling: “Stay away from me! You b*****d! You b*****d! You b*****! Just before the tape comes to a sudden stop, she can be heard shouting: “Get out of here! Get out of here! Get off me!”

In the summer of 2019, a jury found Pettigrew guilty of murder, elder abuse, and violating a protective order. He was subsequently sentenced to spend 25 years to life behind bars.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more crimes profiled on ID.

Dawn Donaldson and Crissy Campbell were teenage best friends who were murdered in the small Californian town of Grass Valley. The police arrested Sam Strange for the murders, but he claimed he only disposed of the bodies and wasn’t the real killer.

Keith Jesperson, aka The Happy Face Killer, murdered at least eight women across the country. He got his nickname after sending letters to the media, which were signed with a smiley face.

Doom For Rent airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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