A Howard County grand jury and the Maryland State Police found no evidence of foul play in the May 4 hanging death of Columbia resident Carl Jonathan Bowie, State's Attorney William R. Hymes announced yesterday.

The State Police concluded that the death of Bowie, who was found atop the baseball backstop of Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, was "deliberate." Sgt. R.L. Caple said, "The method in which the noose was formed and placed around the victim's neck indicates he placed the ligature around his neck after climbing up on the {backstop} fence."

The State Police stopped short of using the term "suicide" to describe Bowie's death because they uncovered no clear evidence, such as an eyewitness or a suicide note, that his intent was to kill himself. Caple's statement said the "manner of death" is "undetermined."

The State Medical Examiner's Office had earlier determined that the cause of the 19-year-old's death was "asphyxia due to hanging by the neck."

Bowie's family and friends contend that he had no reason to kill himself and that, without any hint of unhappiness, he had made a number of plans and commitments for marriage, work, continuing his education and trips out of town.

They petitioned for an outside investigation of the death. Hymes responded by asking the State Police to delve into the matter.

Now that the five-member State Police team has completed its probe, an attorney for the Bowie family has requested another investigation -- by the Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Bowie's mother, Sandra Keyser, said the grand jury process had left her feeling "very betrayed." She said Hymes and Caple broke a promise to discuss their findings with the family before the grand jury convened.

The Bowie case has been particularly sensitive for county police because Bowie and his twin, Mickey, had filed complaints of excessive force against police officers who arrested them at a party in January. The grand jury dismissed those allegations Aug. 1.

After Bowie's death, rumors circulated in Columbia that the police were somehow involved. Yesterday Howard County Police Chief Frederick W. Chaney said that the grand jury and State Police investigations had "clearly exonerated the Howard County Police Department of any wrongdoing, as well as other allegations of criminal misconduct."

According to yesterday's statement, Sgt. Caple told the grand jury that there was no evidence of foul play, and that in the early morning hours of May 4 Bowie apparently climbed the baseball backstop that he had helped erect while a student at Oakland Mills.

Bowie, who was later found to have been intoxicated, then placed a cable noose around his own neck, Caple said, adding that the teenager's death was "not accidental." Bowie had a blood alcohol level of .18; in Maryland .10 is considered intoxicated.

"We don't know how he got up" on the backstop, State's Attorney Hymes said at a news conference yesterday. "We presume he elevated himself up to that level. There is no indication he was placed on that level by anyone else."

Meanwhile, a newly registered political action committee called Friends of Jon Bowie is supporting Richard Kinlein, who is seeking to unseat Hymes, a committee spokesman said yesterday.