Calvert Woman Arrested in Deaths of Two Children

Date: 2008-09-29

Calvert Woman Arrested in Deaths of Two Children

Authorities said they found what appeared to be the bodies of two children in a "drop-in" freezer Saturday in the basement of Renee Bowman's home on Buckskin Trail in Lusby. Sheriff's deputies had been searching the house for evidence in connection with the alleged beating of a third child, age 7.

In a news release issued this morning, authorities said Bowman, 43, told investigators that she had adopted three daughters from the District. One of the girls was found in a short distance from her home on Friday morning after escaping from a locked bedroom by jumping out the window, the Calvert sheriff's office said.

Bowman allegedly told investigators that she had beaten that child. She also allegedly said the bodies found in the freezer were the remains of her other two daughters, and had been in the freezer at least since she moved to Lusby from Rockville in February.

Bowman was charged with child abuse in connection with the 7-year-old. Investigators in Calvert said they believe the other two girls died in Rockville, based on the information they were given by Bowman. Any criminal charges relating to their deaths would therefore likely come from Montgomery County, rather than Calvert, investigators said.

Authorities said the two dead children's remains were encased in a block of ice, and their identities likely will not be confirmed until the ice melts and autopsies can be performed. They said Bowman told them the girls were born in 1999 and 1997, and adopted by her four years ago.

"It's a tragedy, and it gets to you a little bit," Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans said at a news conference today. "You think you've seen it all, but you haven't."

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said the circumstances of this case "are harrowing" and it "is a blow to everyone's heart and psyche that we could lose two more very young people."

The oldest of the three girls was adopted in July of 2001, and the other two girls, sisters, were both adopted July 15 of 2004, Fenty said in a news conference today.

Bowman was a foster parent and the three girls she went on to adopt had been her only foster children, said Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles. As part of a federal program to help adoptive parents, Bowman received a total of $2,400 a month for the three children, Nickles said.

The investigation began Friday, after neighbors on Pawnee Lane found the 7-year-old who had jumped from the second-story window of the house on Buckskin Trail, a nearby street in the same subdivision. The girl was badly bruised and apparently beaten, authorities said today. Neighbors alerted the authorities, who transported the girl to Children's Hospital and opened a child abuse investigation.

Some time later, Bowman came to the sheriff's office after learning deputies had found her daughter. According to investigators, "she confessed to beating the victim with a 'hard heeled shoe.' "

Authorities said Bowman told them the 7-year-old was rarely, if ever, permitted to leave the house. She was beaten "all over" and remains hospitalized, Evans said at the news conference.

Calvert authorities said there is no evidence that the 7-year-old was enrolled in Calvert County schools. Bowman does not have a criminal record and has not been accused of neglect or abuse in the past, they said.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for the house in an effort to find the shoe and other evidence. While searching the house, they found human remains in the freezer.

"Due to the condition of the remains . . . the Medical Examiners Office requested the entire freezer be brought to Baltimore so the evidence could be removed," the news release said.

Although Bowman allegedly told detectives the remains were those of her other two daughters, authorities said they do not yet know how many remains are in the freezer and have not confirmed their identities.

The bodies were inside a freezer that "was probably the normal height, and probably four foot wide," Moore said. "All we see is a big block of ice with these two children encapsulated in them. . . . We can't even do the autopsy probably until tomorrow because we're still trying to thaw them out."

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