Bay Area

Who is deadly BART stabbing suspect John Cowell?

OAKLAND (KRON) - KRON4 is learning more about the deadly BART stabbing suspect accused of killing an 18-year-old woman on BART.

He is accused of killing 18-year-old Nia Wilson when he stabbed both Nia and her sister in the neck as they were transferring trains at MacArthur BART Station in Oakland on Sunday night. 

John Lee Cowell grew up in Contra Costa County, and prosecutors there are very familiar with him.

Neighbors say Cowell grew up in Concord and then lived there off and on as an adult

Neighbor Carol Kincaid says when she heard of Cowell's arrest for murder, she was not surprised.

Trouble is an understatement. He has a criminal history in Contra Costa County.

The District Attorney's office has brought Cowell up on charges at least 6 times.

Following a 2009 assault, he pleaded no contest to two counts of battery. In 2013, he pleaded no contest again to battery.

In 2015, he pleaded no contest to being under the influence of an illegal substance.

And then in 2016, he was charged with petty theft, illegal possession of tear gas, possession of a smoking device, and drug possession.  Those charges ended up being dismissed following his arrest and conviction for second-degree robbery in which prosecutors say he stole items from a Lucky's store and then threatened a loss prevention officer with a replica gun and a box cutter, so he wasn't detained.

He did two years in state prison.

Add to this a restraining order filed in 2016 by Kaiser in Richmond because of "threats directed at our employees." And a restraining order filed in 2015 to keep him away from the family home.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cowell's family released a statement. You can read that statement here.

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