July 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay man found dead in D.C. apartment

A 26-year-old gay man who had been missing for about two weeks was found dead inside his apartment in Northwest Washington on July 22.

Mark Gower, a native of Portland, Ore. who lived in D.C. for several years, was found after failing to show up for work at his day job at a cosmetics store and his night job as a dancer at the gay nightclub Secrets, friends and co-workers said.

A spokesperson for D.C. police said there were no outward signs of foul play or trauma on Gower’s body when police forced open his apartment door.

Police Lt. Nicholas Bruel said the homicide squad and the city Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating the matter as a death of unknown cause. He noted that although there was no immediate evidence of wounds or a violent act, authorities could not rule out a homicide until the completion of an autopsy and toxicological tests. Bruel said other possible causes could include accidental death or suicide.

“He was a very reliable guy and always called if he needed to change his schedule,” said Cliff Witt, the Secrets dancer manager.

Gower’s friend, Timothy White, said he was troubled that police rules governing missing person reports precluded him from immediately filing such a report. White noted that authorities told him that a relative usually must file such reports — but he had trouble tracking down Gower’s exact address and reaching the man’s family in Oregon.

Although it couldn’t be immediately determined how long Gower was dead inside his apartment, White said police indicated he could have died shortly after he was discovered missing, which was nearly two weeks before the body was found.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • I find it very strange that an employer can’t report a dependable employee missing. Two weeks to get whatever permission to enter an apartment is not a good policy. The man may have died between the time he was last seen and the first job schedule he missed. I’ll bet his family would have liked to have had his disappearance investigated immediately.

  • Got to love the blog ad programs…it placed an ad for ZIegfeld’s/Secrets under this article when I viewed it. I realize it is not the Blade’s fault but oy!

  • for me it was the HIV STOPS WITH ME ad… but i guess there’s no appropriate ad for a story like this…

  • OMG I knew Mark, Can someone please tell me if there is going to be a viewing or anything? this is very heart breaking. My condolences go out to his friends and family.

  • Thank God this wasn’t a “hate crime”.

  • In other places it mentioned that he was just brillant. He graduated from college at 19 with highest honors. This is terrible, and such a loss. Was anything learned from the autopsy? I am so sad for his friends and his family.

  • Although some of us knew Mark, or have known of him. We all enjoyed the smiles he brought to our lives. Let us stop pondering the what-ifs and lets get on the move to assist the authorities and Mark’s family in finding closure to this puzzling yet tragic situation.

    Thank you,

  • Mark was a co-worker and friend of mine. He was very, very smart, kind and thoughtful. When I was going through a serious illness, he came to visit and just listened. I was always amazed at his sense of humor and his unique perspective on almost everything. I can hear his infectious laughter and great smile. Sadly, I lost touch with him over the last few months and was shocked to hear this terribly sad news. My prayers are with his family and friends. He will be sorely missed. I too am looking for more details on how we can put closure and peace to his death and honor his life.


  • There will be a memorial service for Mark this Friday, August 6th, from 6-8pm at the HRC Equality Center (1640 Rhode Island Ave NW which is at 17th/RI Ave intersection). Donations may be made at the memorial to help Mark’s family with expenses.

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