Two Sisters Found in Mother's Freezer Had Been Asphyxiated

By Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008

The two girls found in September in a freezer in their mother's home in Calvert County died from asphyxiation, according to a ruling by the Maryland medical examiner's office, authorities said yesterday.

The girls' mother, Renee Bowman, has told investigators that one of the girls died of starvation and that 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, 43, moved from Montgomery County to Charles County to Calvert.

Montgomery police announced the medical examiner's finding but declined to say how the girls were asphyxiated.

"Hopefully, that's something we can come out with at some point," said Melanie Brenner, a Montgomery police spokeswoman. Detectives from Montgomery and Calvert continue to investigate the homicides, she said.

The girls' bodies were found Sept. 27 after their 7-year-old sister, who was covered in bruises, was found wandering near Bowman's Lusby home. Bowman was indicted in October on attempted first-degree murder, child abuse and other charges related to that girl, the youngest of her three daughters.

Bowman is a suspect in the homicides of the other two girls but has not been charged in their deaths.

The girls' bodies have been identified as those of Bowman's adopted daughters Jasmine Nicole Bowman, who would have been 9, and Minnet Cecila Bowman, who would have been 11. A family acquaintance helped provide tentative IDs in October. Brenner said positive scientific identifications have since been made using comparative DNA testing.

One sample used to make the identification came from the 7-year-old, a sister of one of the victims, according to a source close to the investigation. The other came from the birth mother of one of the two girls, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

The case has heightened concerns about child welfare services in the District, where the adoptions took place. 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.

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