Sunday, June 23, 2024

A Minnesota doctor who the authorities said had worked as a poison specialist was arrested on Friday and charged in the death of his wife, Betty Bowman, who died in August from poisoning.

The doctor, Connor Bowman, was charged after a police investigation found that he had searched online for a medication that had been detected in lethal amounts in Ms. Bowman and had tried to cancel her autopsy, according to court documents.

Dr. Bowman, 30, was charged with second-degree murder, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Olmsted County District Court. His wife, Ms. Bowman, 32, was not named in the complaint, but the Rochester Police Department confirmed that she was the victim.

A lawyer for Dr. Bowman did not respond to requests for comment.

Ms. Bowman was admitted to a hospital in Rochester, Minn., on Aug. 16 because of “severe gastrointestinal distress and dehydration,” and her condition deteriorated rapidly, according to the complaint. She died four days later, and her husband, Dr. Bowman, told “multiple people” that she had died from a rare illness, the complaint said. Her obituary said that the couple had married in May 2021 and that Ms. Bowman had died of “sudden onset autoimmune and infectious illness.”

This explanation for Ms. Bowman’s death was challenged the day after she died, when the Southeast Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office halted a cremation order and told the Rochester Police Department that the death was suspicious, the complaint said.

In the following weeks, investigators searched Mr. Bowman’s work devices and spoke to the couple’s acquaintances, who are identified only by their initials in court documents. One woman had called the medical examiner and said that the couple “were having marital issues and were talking about a divorce following infidelity and a deteriorating relationship.”

Another woman the police interviewed said that Dr. Bowman had told her he was going to get $500,000 in life insurance from his wife’s death, the complaint said.

After Dr. Bowman was arrested on Friday, the police searched his home and found a receipt for a $450,000 bank deposit, the complaint said.

The medical examiner’s office said in the complaint that Ms. Bowman’s initial symptoms were similar to food poisoning, but she did not respond to standard medical procedures. Her condition instead deteriorated rapidly and she had “cardiac issues, fluid in her lungs and eventually organ failure,” the complaint said.

The complaint said that at the hospital, Dr. Bowman “suggested” that Ms. Bowman might have had a rare disease, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, but tests for the illness were inconclusive.

Ms. Bowman, a Mayo Clinic pharmacist, died on Aug. 20.

Ms. Bowman’s family said in a statement that she was “a reliable pillar of strength and a listening ear during times of joy and sorrow.” Ms. Bowman loved her pet corgi and traveling, especially to Hawaii and Iceland.

“Co-workers continue to speak positively about her which speaks loudly to show how she carried her positive energy both in her personal and professional life,” the statement said.

Ms. Bowman’s family created an online fund-raiser on GoFundMe this week to help cover legal fees and related costs because “as new evidence emerges, we realize Betty might have been taken from us not by natural causes.”

Dr. Bowman had worked as a poison specialist in Kansas and was a medical resident at the Mayo Clinic until his training ended earlier this month. “We are aware of the recent arrest of a former Mayo Clinic resident on charges unrelated to his Mayo Clinic responsibilities,” the medical center said in a statement.

After Ms. Bowman’s death, investigators collected information about Dr. Bowman’s internet searches, including research they said he had done earlier in August into the drug colchicine, which is used to treat gout.

The complaint said that Dr. Bowman had done calculations that showed how much colchicine would be lethal for his wife, based on her weight, and had searched “internet browsing history: can it be used in court?” and “Police track package delivery.”

Dr. Bowman had told the medical examiner’s office that he wanted Ms. Bowman cremated immediately and that she had died of natural causes, the complaint said. Dr. Bowman also tried to cancel the autopsy and, in emails with one of the office’s death investigators, asked “for a list of what was specifically going to be tested for,” the complaint said.

Tests found colchicine in Ms. Bowman’s blood and urine, the complaint said, and the medical examiner determined that her death was a homicide caused by the toxic effects of colchicine.

Olmsted County Adult Detention Center records showed that Dr. Bowman was still being held in jail on Wednesday morning.

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