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CALVERT COUNTY

Charges Upgraded Against Bowman

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By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Calvert County woman suspected of killing two adopted daughters and storing their bodies in a freezer has been indicted on attempted murder charges in the alleged abuse of her surviving daughter, according to court records unsealed today.

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Police had charged Renee D. Bowman, 43, with first-degree child abuse. On Monday, a grand jury indicted Bowman on attempted first-degree murder and other charges related to the 8-year-old girl, according to the records.

"The nature of the case took it to that level," said Detective Sgt. Michael Moore of the Calvert County Sheriff's Office. He said the charges in the indictment were more severe in part because of the severity of the child's injuries.

Authorities have said that the girl had infected sores and lesions, injuries to her feet and knees, and ligature marks and extensive scarring on her neck. She was hospitalized for nearly a week and placed with a local foster family upon her release.

Child abuse is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The attempted-murder charge carries a possible life sentence.

Dorothy Gardner-Hodge, an attorney for Bowman, did not respond to a message seeking comment. Bowman is jailed without bond in Calvert.

It was the young girl's escape that led investigators to discover the bodies of her two sisters in the basement freezer in Bowman's Lusby home last month. A neighbor called police after he spotted the girl, then 7, wandering aimlessly along the street, her body covered in bruises. The girl told investigators that her mother had beaten her and locked her in her room. The girl said she had jumped out her bedroom window to escape.

Authorities searched Bowman's house and found the bodies of the two girls. They have since tentatively identified the children as Jasmine Nicole Bowman, who would be 9, and Minnet C. Bowman, who would be 11. The medical examiner has yet to confirm those identities or formally rule on the cause of death, and Bowman has not been charged in connection with their deaths.

Bowman told authorities that one of the girls died of starvation and the other died after a fall, law enforcement sources have said. Investigators think the bodies probably were in the freezer for at least a year as Bowman moved from Montgomery County to Charles County to Calvert.

"We're still investigating where the girls met their deaths," said Lt. Paul Starks, a spokesman for the Montgomery police. "And then just again . . . nailing down the timeline of when and where they were and who last saw these girls alive."

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 federal 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 foster child, and had just emerged from it in 2004, when she adopted two others.

Calvert State's Attorney Laura Martin declined to comment.


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