Md. Woman Is Charged In Deaths Of 2 Girls

Date: 2009-03-30

Children Were Found In Adoptive Mother's Freezer Last Year

Dan Morse

Montgomery police have obtained a warrant charging Renee Bowman with murder in the slayings of two adopted children whose bodies were found in her Southern Maryland freezer last year, the county's state's attorney and police said yesterday.

Bowman, who has been in the Calvert County jail since September, probably will be served with a copy of the charging documents this week, said John McCarthy, the state's attorney. Detectives think that Bowman killed the girls in May 2006 when she was leasing a home in the Aspen Hill area and that the girls died of asphyxiation, McCarthy said.

Bowman, 43, came to the attention of law enforcement last year, when the girls' 7-year-old sister jumped out of a bedroom window of Bowman's home in Lusby and was spotted by a neighbor. She was infected with sores and lesions and had injuries on her feet and knees, ligature marks and extensive scarring on her neck.

Calvert authorities charged Bowman with attempted murder of the 7-year-old and child abuse and have been holding her in the county jail since then.

When investigators searched Bowman's home, they found the two bodies in the freezer. They were later identified as those of Jasmine Nicole Bowman, who would be about 9, and Minnet C. Bowman, who would be about 11.

Bowman told authorities that one of the girls died of starvation and that the other died after a fall, law enforcement sources have said. Montgomery police have said they long suspected the slayings took place in their jurisdiction.

The warrant charges Bowman with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of child abuse resulting in death and one count of child abuse relating to the surviving girl. Investigators said they think she kept the bodies in the freezer for at least a year while she moved from Montgomery to Charles County to Calvert.

With Bowman locked up, detectives had more time to investigate before placing charges, said Lt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman. The investigation involved coordinating efforts among four agencies in Montgomery and Calvert, he said.

Investigators have determined that while in Montgomery, Bowman beat all three children, Starks said. At times, she kept her children in a locked room, forcing them to urinate in a bucket, he said.

Bowman will first face charges in Calvert. In October, she was indicted there on attempted murder and other charges in the alleged abuse of her surviving daughter, according to court records. She is scheduled to be tried Sept. 28.

Her attorney, Dorothy Gardner-Hodge, could not be reached yesterday.

The surviving girl, now 8, was hospitalized for several days after fleeing her mother's home. She then moved in with a foster family in Calvert, where officials said this year she was safe and doing well.

After the criminal charges in Calvert are resolved, Bowman will be brought to Montgomery to face the murder charges, McCarthy said.

The case has heightened concerns about child welfare services in the District. Bowman, who had been a foster parent to each of the three girls, received $2,400 a month from a program that encourages adoption of children who are wards of the state.

The city's Child and Family Services Agency recommended Bowman as a suitable adoptive parent, even though she had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, the year she adopted one child, and had just emerged from it in 2004, when she adopted two others.

At times while the bodies were in the freezer, Bowman sat at her computer and went shopping for clothes. She considered faux-fur cropped jackets and bought a pair of inexpensive ones on eBay. She also bought a gold ring with fake diamonds shaped into a heart for $27.01 and a gold bracelet that said "I Love You" for $36.


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