Pre-autopsy exam reveals little

Date: 2008-10-03
Source: somdnews.com

Pre-autopsy exam reveals little

Cause of deaths, identities still not certain

October 3, 2008
CAROL HARVAT

Many questions still go unanswered in a Lusby child abuse case, as medical examiners work to identify two bodies suspected to be two of her three adopted daughters found in a freezer in her home.

Officials continue to be probed with questions on how this case could happen and why nobody noticed the girls were not registered for school.

The physical examinations of the two children, ages 9 and 11, are complete, but ‘‘the cause and manner of both deaths are pending,” said Cindy Feldstein, secretary of David Fowler, the Maryland chief medical examiner. The final autopsy identifying the bodies and determining the cause of death will be released to Montgomery County Police and it will probably take six weeks, she said.

Montgomery County Police Officer Tenesha Jensen said investigators said the autopsy ‘‘wouldn’t be ready for some time.” Because of the sensitivity of the case, investigators said the autopsy will be thoroughly conducted and finished before any information will be released to the press, she said.

During the execution of a search warrant on Sept. 27 of a Buckskin Trail home in Lusby, the Calvert Investigative Team found human remains in 43-year-old Bowman’s drop freezer in her basement. The detectives were searching for evidence of child abuse because her 7-year-old daughter was found by a neighbor the day before wandering in the road in a nightgown. The child had extensive bruising on her entire body, charging documents state. Bowman has been charged with first-and second-degree child abuse and second-degree assault for allegedly abusing the 7-year-old, court records state.

Calvert County Sheriff’s Office took cadaver dogs out to Bowman’s home and checked to see if more human remains were on the property, but nothing was found, said Sheriff Mike Evans. Montgomery County Police, who searched Bowman’s old residence in Aspen Hill, is handling the release of the autopsy since Bowman told deputies that she killed her daughters in Montgomery County, Evans said. The sheriff’s office is under the premise that if a crime occurred in another county then the prosecution would be handled in the jurisdiction of that county, Evans said.

Bowman has not been charged with killing the two girls, despite telling police that she killed both of them and placed them in the freezer. Investigators are searching for information about Bowman’s three girls, and despite the lack of identity of the two bodies, police are treating the case as a homicide investigation.

On a newscast on NBC Channel 4 on Thursday morning, Lucille Baur, a Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson, said the girls had a limited amount of contact with the outside world and they are looking for any information about the girls.

‘‘We don’t know when they lost their lives,” Baur said.

Bowman told Calvert County police that she moved two of her adoptive girls to Calvert dead in a freezer along with the surviving 7-year-old. The 7-year-old was never enrolled in Calvert County public schools, according to Evans.

Investigators have not released the names of any of the girls, but Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Steve Simon said there is ‘‘no record that they were ever enrolled” in the school system.

Bowman received $2,400 a month from a federal program for people who take in ‘‘special needs” children, said Washington, D.C.’s acting Attorney General Peter Nickles at a press conference Monday, viewed on wusa9.com. Bowman’s three adopted girls qualified for the ‘‘special needs” program because the designation includes children who are part of a sibling set or a racial minority group and were wards of the state.

Bowman, who originally was a foster mother for the three girls, adopted the eldest girl in 2001 and two sisters, one who is still alive, in 2004 through the District of Columbia. Nickles said Bowman passed an FBI and police clearance, a home study and reference checks as well as a post-planned adoption study during the screening process.

D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells, who launched the Child Welfare Safety Net Reform Plan in May, said at a news conference that the D. C. council members are going to work with the administration to find out if all precautions were taken in the Bowman case.

Mafara Hobson, director of the communications office for D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, said that after adoptions are completed, the District government has no oversight on the children.

‘‘Adoption ends government’s roll,” said Fenty in an interview on NBC Channel 4 on Thursday morning. People may not adopt if requirements are put on them that normal parents don’t have. That would make adoption difficult, Fenty said.

Fenty also reverberated that Bowman passed the screening process to be a foster parent and to adopt the girls when questioned about Bowman’s 1999 misdemeanor conviction, a foreclosure and a bankruptcy on record. Fenty said he wasn’t sure why some of the information revealed now was not in Bowman’s file at the time of adoption.

‘‘Anything that was in the file was reviewed,” he said. The D.C. adoption system has worked for many years for many families, ‘‘so this isn’t the norm,” Fenty said.

Even if the adoptive parents of foster children collect assistance they do not have any case managers or social workers following up on them, said Deborah Byrd, subsidy representative of D.C. Metropolitan Foster⁄Adoptive Parent Association.

Adoptive kids are the same as other kids, if their parents want assistance from social agencies, they need to take the initiative, she said. ‘‘It’s not the business of an agency to follow up,” she said.

In Montgomery County, if a person is receiving benefits they are assigned a case manager, but the District was providing support for Bowman, not Montgomery County, said Mary Anderson, public information officer for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.

‘‘We were not involved with her,” Anderson said.

Montgomery County has a social worker dedicated to nothing but post-adoptive services since July 2008, she said. The adoptive parents are followed closely for three months, and then are continued to be serviced by a social worker and are offered services if needed, Anderson said.

‘‘That’s what we do, I don’t know what other areas do,” she said.

Bowman received a monthly check through an adoption subsidy program that is funded by federal money under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. The funds are paid through a state agency or through public or nonprofit private agencies and are available for children being adopted from foster care.

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