Waynesboro, Pa., man found shot dead in downtown Hagerstown

August 25, 1997



A 25-year-old Waynesboro, Pa., man who was shot to death early Monday morning was a music lover who had vowed in his high school yearbook to "live life to the fullest."

Matthew Roy Hovis, of 24 W. Main St., Apt. 4, was taken to Washington County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:08 a.m.

Hovis, who had been shot in the head, was found lying face up in the parking lot to the rear of 23 E. Washington St. at 12:23 a.m., Hagerstown City Police said.


It was Washington County's fourth homicide of 1997.

Investigators had no suspects Monday night and were at a loss for a motive for the slaying. Sgt. Rick Johnson said authorities are not ruling anything out.

"We're still working on it. We're looking at all possibilities at this point," he said.

More than anything else, music, band and chorus consumed Matthew Roy Hovis' interest as a student in Waynesboro Area Senior High School, a former teacher said Monday.

Gerald Kowallis, chairman of the high school's music department and director of its choirs, echoed the feelings of several of his colleagues when he said Hovis was quiet, well liked and popular among his peers and teachers. He graduated in 1990.

His father, Richard Hovis, is a former Waynesboro police officer who left the force in the early 1970s, said Police Chief Glenn R. Phenicie.

"I haven't seen Matt in a couple of years," Kowallis said. "I'm shocked and saddened by the news. He was very much involved in the band and chorus when he was in school."

Hovis sung with the Tribesmen, the school's all-male chorus, Kowallis said.

"This really came as a blow. It will be a shock to his friends," said Jay R. Heefner, Hovis' high school guidance teacher.

"I just saw Matt about a week ago. He was always super polite, always with a smile. Got along well with everyone. His whole life in high school was music. He was always involved with the band," Heefner said.

In his class yearbook, Hovis said he remembered the good times in band, its trips and singing with the Tribesmen and in the choir. He said he will "live life to the fullest no matter what happens."

The yearbook also said Hovis planned to go to college, but he never did. He worked for about a year after high school as a car salesman, said a spokesman with Lynn Chevrolet-Cadillac-Oldsmobile in Waynesboro.

The lifelong Waynesboro resident also worked at TAB Books in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., until the company closed. Afterward, he worked for a year as a maintenance man for Grove Funeral Home Inc. in Waynesboro. He left in December, said James A. Bowersox, owner.

"He was a nice guy, quiet and active in his church and community," Bowersox said.

Hovis was working at the Friendly Ice Cream Shop at Valley Mall at the time of his death, a store official said.

His family declined to comment Monday.

Johnson, who is heading up the investigation for the Hagerstown Police Department, said a witness told police she heard a "pop" and saw two men running from the area just before Hovis was found in the parking lot in downtown Hagerstown.

"We believe that others in the area must have heard or seen something," Johnson said.

The Adult Book Store, which is located at 23 E. Washington St., was still open at the time Hovis was found, Johnson said.

When he was found, Hovis wearing a black long-sleeved sweatshirt and blue jeans.

His vehicle, a white 1990 Chevrolet Geo with a pink stripe on the side, was found in the area where the body was found, Johnson said.

Hovis' parents were contacted and traveled to Hagerstown to speak with police early Monday, Johnson said.

"They went home after we talked with them," Johnson said.

Staff Writer Brendan Kirby contributed to this story.

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