ROCKVILLE, Maryland – Police in Maryland said Thursday they are confident that two girls found encased in ice in a basement freezer are the adopted daughters of a woman suspected of killing them.
Montgomery County police said they have tentatively identified the girls as Jasmine Nicole Bowman, who would have been 9, and Minnet Cecila Bowman, who would have been 11.
Police found the bodies last month in Renee Bowman's freezer in Lusby. They believe the children may have been dead since at least last November, when the family moved from Rockville, about 60 miles away in Montgomery County.
Bowman, 43, is a suspect but has not been charged in the girls' deaths. She is charged with abusing a third adopted daughter who was found alive.
The identification was made by detectives, who compared the bodies to a photograph of the girls that was found in Bowman's home and labeled by a family friend. The identification is considered tentative, but police say they don't expect autopsies to show anything different.
Dr. David Fowler, Maryland's chief medical examiner, said the photograph was not clear enough to identify the girls with absolute certainty.
"I think what we have is a good presumptive ID," he said. "The photographs do not exclude these two individuals, and they do look somewhat similar."
Fowler said his office is still hoping to confirm the identities through scientific means, such as fingerprints and dental work, but that is often difficult for children. The fact that they were adopted complicates DNA identification, he said.
Police said they still have not confirmed when, where and how the girls died. Autopsies have been performed, but Fowler said lab tests that could shed light both on the cause of death and the identities are expected to take several more weeks.
Investigators have said Bowman told them the remains are those of her daughters and that they died in Rockville. Police are trying to confirm where and when they were last seen alive. They have not found any record of the children being in school, police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said.
In addition to Rockville and Lusby, Bowman has lived in two other counties and Washington, D.C., police said.