Star Stowe’s death — Her gradual demise explained

Star Stowe

The death of Playboy’s February 1977 Playmate of the Month, Star Stowe, features in an episode of ID’s The Playboy Murders: The Girl With The Star Tattoo. Star moved to Las Vegas as a teenager, hoping to make it as a dancer. Instead, she met KISS icon Gene Simmons in Hotel Sahara’s elevators. 

The couple’s relationship elevated her status as a model. Playboy’s February 1977 had a rock and roll theme inspired by Star and Simmons’ romance: she posed in a G-string with a Rickenbacker guitar for her centerfold photo. 

Unfortunately, Star’s life and career dipped after breaking up with Simmons, culminating in her death on 16th March 1997. 

Star Stowe was likely killed by a serial killer targeting prostitutes

In March 1997, boys discovered Star’s half-naked body behind a Coral Springs Eckerd store. Star had been strangled, like another prostitute, Sandra Kay Walters, whose body was recovered three weeks prior. 

The discovery of Tammy Strunk’s body in November 1997 strengthened the theory that a serial killer targeting prostitutes had killed the women. 

The strangulation murders of prostitutes continued in Florida: Sheila Griffin was found dead in a Fort Lauderdale parking lot in January 1999; Crystal Martin’s strangled body was discovered in a motel in February 1999; in June 2000, authorities found Melissa Ljames’s body in a canal in Lauderhill. 

Authorities were certain they were dealing with a serial killer. However, the killer didn’t leave evidence investigators could have used to identify them. Consequently, Star Stowe’s murder remains unsolved. 

Star dived into drugs and prostitution after breaking up with Simmons

The height of Star’s career coincided with her relationship with Simmons. After breaking up with Simmons in 1978, her career crumbled. 

Star married Peter Maligo and welcomed a son, Michael. After the pair’s divorce, she relocated to Fort Lauderdale to become a dancer at an adult club. Star sent Michael to live with his grandmother in Little Rock, Arkansas, but kept in touch through phone calls and regular visits. 

“It was like talking to your best friend,” Michael told The South Florida SunSentinel. “I thought she was so cool. I really enjoyed being around her.”

A former boyfriend told the outlet that Star turned to drugs and prostitution after her dancing dreams failed to materialize. In 1991, she met her ex-boyfriend, who pledged to provide for her. 

Star stayed clean for the five years the couple lived together. The ex-boyfriend said Star disappeared following a drunken argument. 

Star’s return to a life of drugs and prostitution led to her death. She was last seen alive working the streets in the afternoon of 16th March 1997. “She [Star] had a problem… she couldn’t cope with her life,” the ex-boyfriend said. “But there was more to this woman than meets the eye.”