New details emerge as Encinitas man pleads not guilty to killing his girlfriend

(File photo)

Prosecutors say Henry Simon Cowan, 41, killed his girlfriend in their shared Encinitas home, then fled. She was not discovered for several days


A 41-year-old man accused of killing his girlfriend in their shared Encinitas home then trying to secure a visa to Israel as her body lay undiscovered for several days pleaded not guilty to murder Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Henry Simon Cowan, whose last name is also listed as Cowen, faces 55 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Sabrina Lukosky, who was missing for more than two weeks before she was found dead.

New details of how the 43-year-old’s body was found and what authorities believe Cowan did afterward were revealed during Cowan’s arraignment in Vista Superior Court, as Deputy District Attorney Marnie Layon asked the judge to order the defendant held without bail. The prosecutor spoke of “the horribly violent death of his own girlfriend at his own house.”

According to Layon, Lukosky’s mother last heard from her daughter in a phone call on Sept. 20. Just shy of two weeks later, on Oct. 3, the mother called authorities and asked them to check on Lukosky.

Deputies went to the Encinitas residence Lukosky shared with Cowan and found her car in the driveway, the prosecutor said. The deputies detected the “odor of decaying flesh,” Layon said.

On Oct. 8, deputies armed with a search warrant entered the home, a “granny flat” behind where Cowan’s mother and brother live, the prosecutor said. The deputies found “evidence of a violent struggle,” including a broken stick and broken bottle, Layon said.

They found Lukosky’s body on the bed. She had been dead for more than two weeks and with a gash on her forehead. The autopsy revealed her ribs were broken and she had been strangled, Layon said.

A warrant for Cowen’s arrest was issued Oct. 11. The Fugitive Task Force found Cowan, who has a criminal record, in Riverside County.

Investigators learned that Cowan had spent a few days there in late September with a former girlfriend, Layon said. Afterward, he spent time with another ex-girlfriend — with whom he has three children — who also lives in Riverside County.

Layon alleged that that woman and her father took Cowan to the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles to try to get a visitor visa. When Cowan learned it would take months to secure such a visa, the prosecutor said, Cowan set his sights on going to New York.

Layon also said that Cowan has a history of violence, including a 1998 assault conviction. There was also a 2010 case out of Washington state, she said.

“He has a proclivity to commit violence,” she said.

After hearing from the prosecutor, Superior Court Judge James Simmons Jr. ordered the defendant held without bail, finding Cowan to be both a potential flight risk and potential danger to the community.

Several of Lukosky’s supporters attended the hearing, and afterward, two of them spoke of her gentle nature. Vanessa Deffenbaugh, who had known Lukosky since early grade school days in Encinitas, called her “a beautiful butterfly” and “a beautiful soul.”

Deffenbaugh’s sister, Allyson Mineau, met Lukosky when they were in third-grade. She said Lukosky “was just love and light, a Grateful Dead-loving hippie.”

— Teri Figueroa is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune