The Tragic Death of Star Stowe, the Playboy Model with a Star Tattoo

Stowe was a beautiful and talented model who rose to fame as Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month for February 1977. She had a star tattooed on her lower abdomen, which made her stand out among other models. She also dated Gene Simmons, the founder and bassist of the rock band KISS, and appeared in some of their publicity shots. However, her life took a dark turn after she broke up with Simmons and moved to Florida, where she became addicted to drugs and alcohol and worked as a prostitute. She was found strangled to death behind a drugstore in Coral Springs, Florida, on March 16, 1997, just three days before her 41st birthday. Her murder remains unsolved to this day.

Star Stowe’s Early Life and Career

Star Stowe was born Ellen Louise Stowe on March 19, 1956, in Little Rock, Arkansas. She grew up in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nevada, where her father worked as an engineer. She had a passion for singing and dancing since she was a child, and dreamed of becoming a star. When she was 18, she moved to Las Vegas and then to Los Angeles, where she worked as a stripper in an adult club. She chose the name Star because of her love of the skies and had a blue star tattooed below her bikini line.

She met Gene Simmons in 1975 at the Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas, where KISS was performing. She recognized him without his trademark makeup and was charmed by his personality. They started a relationship that lasted for three years. Simmons encouraged her to send her photos to Playboy and helped her get noticed by the magazine. She posed for photographer Pompeo Posar and became the Playmate of the Month for February 1977. She was the first playmate with a visible tattoo.

Star Stowe’s Relationship with Gene Simmons and KISS

Star Stowe and Gene Simmons were a popular couple in Hollywood, mixing glamour with rock and music. They attended many events together and were often photographed by the media. Star also became close to the other members of KISS and their families. She took part in several publicity shots for the band, such as posing with a Rickenbacker bass guitar or wearing their merchandise. She also appeared on one of their picture discs.

However, their relationship was not without problems. Simmons was known for his infidelity and his obsession with sex. He claimed to have slept with thousands of women during his career. Star was hurt by his cheating and felt insecure about his love for her. She also struggled with the pressure of being a Playboy model and living up to the expectations of others. She developed an eating disorder and suffered from depression. She eventually broke up with Simmons in 1978 and moved out of their shared apartment.

Star Stowe’s Downfall and Death

After her breakup with Simmons, Star Stowe’s life went downhill. She married and divorced Peter Maligo, with whom she had a son, Michael. She moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1986 to find work as an exotic dancer, but failed to make enough money. She sent her son to live with her mother when he was six years old, but still stayed in touch with him through phone calls and visits.

She became addicted to drugs and alcohol and resorted to prostitution to support herself. She lived on the streets or with abusive boyfriends who exploited her. In 1991, she moved in with a boyfriend who helped her quit drugs and prostitution, but they split up in 1996 after a drunken argument.

She went back to her former life on the streets, selling her body for as little as $20 or $30 per customer. She was last seen alive on March 15, 1997, entering the car of one of her clients. The next day, her body was found behind an Eckerd drugstore in Coral Springs. She had been strangled with a piece of cloth and left half-naked on the ground.

Star Stowe’s Murder Investigation

The police suspected that Star Stowe’s murder was linked to that of Sandra Kay Walters, another prostitute who had been strangled in Fort Lauderdale a few weeks earlier on February 25. They also believed that there might be a serial killer targeting prostitutes in the area, as several other women were found murdered in a similar manner later that year.

However, they never found any conclusive evidence or suspects that could connect the cases or identify the killer. They interviewed hundreds of people who knew or interacted with Star Stowe, including Gene Simmons, who cooperated with the investigation and expressed his sorrow over her death.

They also checked DNA samples from various sources, such as cigarette butts or condoms found near the crime scenes or from potential suspects who had criminal records or were known to frequent prostitutes. However, none of them matched the DNA found on Star Stowe’s body or clothing.

The police also tried to trace the car that Star Stowe was seen entering on the day of her murder, but they could not find any witnesses who could provide a clear description of the vehicle or the driver. They also checked surveillance cameras from nearby businesses, but they did not capture any useful images.

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The case remains open and unsolved to this day. The police are still hoping that someone will come forward with new information or evidence that could help them crack the case and bring justice to Star Stowe and her family.

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