Man charged with killing Bensalem chiropractor

Jan 8th, 2021

A 22-year-old Bensalem man is being charged with killing Dr. James Sowa on Nov. 2 inside the chiropractor's home office in Bensalem, Bucks County, District Attorney Matt Weintraub announced Friday.  

Joseph O'Boyle, of Bensalem, was charged with one count of criminal homicide, burglary, criminal trespass, and possession of an instrument of crime, according to a presentment issued by an investigating county grand jury on Thursday. The charges were approved by Supervising Judge Raymond F. McHugh. 

Dr. Sowa, 64, was found dead after police responded to a 3:40 p.m. medical call at his home and chiropractic office, located at 3161 Hulmeville Road, on Nov. 2, 2020.

The 40-page presentment details testimony from numerous witnesses and evidence that alleges O'Boyle entered Dr. Sowa's chiropractic office on Nov. 2, without an appointment, and attacked Dr. Sowa by hitting him on the back of the head with a blunt object.

While Dr. Sowa was incapacitated on the floor, O'Boyle repeatedly struck Dr. Sowa's jaw area with a blunt object or rammed his jaw area with a blunt object. Those blows caused Dr. Sowa's death. 

Dr. Sowa's records showed O'Boyle had been a patient of his in September 2020, and witnesses testified O'Boyle was upset about the treatment he received that day for jaw pain. 

O'Boyle, who is currently in Bucks County Correctional Facility without bail, will be arraigned later today.

Through their investigation, detectives with the Bensalem Police Department and the Bucks County District Attorney's Office were able to determine Dr. Sowa's last known contact with anyone was at 7:52 a.m., on Nov. 2, when he talked to his wife on the phone. The investigation found that Dr. Sowa began missing several business and personal calls, starting around 9:49 a.m. that day. 

Detectives reviewed surveillance cameras in the area, which showed the subject walking up the driveway to Dr. Sowa’s home, disappearing at 8:32 a.m., and re-emerging from where he disappeared less than a minute later.  He then ran back down the driveway and fled.  Through surveillance footage, he was connected to a white Nissan Altima.

Surveillance cameras also captured the Altima's license plate number, which was registered to 2255 Byberry Road. Bensalem police records found a response to that home months earlier when O'Boyle allegedly punched his father because O'Boyle refused to take his depression medication.

Detectives obtained and were serving a search warrant at O'Boyle's residence on Nov. 10 when they observed a suitcase packed with clothes on the floor of O'Boyle's bedroom. Without provocation, O'Boyle lunged at a Bensalem detective and struck his head multiple times with a closed fist. 

The assault was witnessed by several law enforcement officers who took O'Boyle into custody. He has been in county jail since that day, charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and simple assault in that case.

A district judge at the time denied him bail because he was the subject of a homicide investigation, had violent propensities and was a flight risk. 

The homicide was investigated by the Bensalem Police Department and Bucks County Detectives. Deputy District Attorney Megan Hunsicker and Assistant District Attorney Christine Sassane will be prosecuting the case.  

District Attorney Matt Weintraub announces arrest in beating death of Dr. James Sowa of Bensalem

Media Contact: Manuel Gamiz Jr., 215.348.6298,

Criminal charges are allegations subject to proof in court. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.