Tentative IDs Are Made Of 2 Girls Found in Freezer

Bowman Daughters
A photograph of the two girls released by police. (Courtesy of Montgomery County Police)
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By Dan Morse and Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 10, 2008

Montgomery County detectives have tentatively identified the bodies of two girls found in a Calvert County freezer as adopted daughters of Renee Bowman, police said yesterday.

But the medical examiner has not yet determined how the children died, and until authorities review fingerprints, genetic material or additional photographs, they might not provide a formal identification good enough to use in court.

"If someone could be charged with a crime, you don't want it to be for killing Person X," said David R. Fowler, Maryland's chief medical examiner. "For justice, an appropriate prosecution, as well as a defense, the ID needs to be the best that we can make it."

Montgomery police said a family friend helped identify the children as Jasmine Nicole Bowman, who would be 9, and Minnet C. Bowman, who would be 11. The girls' names were made public yesterday.

Although the bodies were discovered in Calvert, officials have said the deaths probably occurred in Montgomery, where Bowman lived in the Aspen Hill area until last fall. Officials said yesterday that detectives aren't certain when, where or how the children died.

The medical examiner's office has done "the physical work" to determine the cause of death, authorities said, and laboratory tests that will take several weeks to complete are underway.

Fowler said that in the absence of conflicting evidence, a photograph was used to arrive at a "presumptive ID." Presumptive IDs are often used in the course of police investigations but are less than ideal in potential homicide cases.

Fowler said his office is using the girls' presumptive IDs to search for fingerprint, dental and DNA records that could verify their identities scientifically.

"Were they photographed by official agencies, fingerprinted, or were other records kept?" Fowler asked. "What about where they were born? Were any specimens, DNA saved? We are exploring every avenue available to get an absolute, positive ID. That's what we owe them."

Fowler said that his office has yet to receive such records and that it is unclear whether any were catalogued as part of the adoption process in the District.

In general, he said, it can be more difficult to find such identifying information for children than for adults. Often, children have not had corrective or restorative dental work that would make for unique dental X-rays.

"Children don't have driver's licenses and photo IDs," Fowler said. "You can get backed into a corner very quickly trying to identify them."

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