Ohio jury hung on verdict in girl's '67 killing
TOLEDO, Ohio – Jurors deadlocked Tuesday on a lone murder charge against a man accused of snatching a teen on her way home from school in 1967 and holding her captive in his basement before killing her and dumping her body in Michigan.
The jury told a judge it could not reach a unanimous verdict needed to convict or acquit Robert Bowman after about 12 hours of deliberations over two days.
Bowman is charged in the killing that stumped investigators over four decades even after his ex-wife had told them she had found the girl alive and tied up in the basement.
Assistant Lucas County prosecutor Tim Braun said he could not discuss whether the office will seek another trial, citing a gag order in the case. A hearing was scheduled for Monday, when prosecutors were to discuss whether they will make a second try.
Jurors told court officials they didn't want answer questions from the media about the deliberations.
Bowman, now 75, sexually assaulted 14-year-old Eileen Adams, prosecutors said, before dumping her body in southern Michigan six weeks after she disappeared. She had been tied up with telephone and drapery cords and a nail had been driven into her head.
Adams, a high school freshman, was either strangled or died from a blow to the head that cracked her skull, prosecutors said.
The girl's family members left without commenting. Some were in tears. About a dozen sat through much of the trial, including Adams' sisters, who had waited four decades to see the case brought to trial.
Bowman had been a successful businessman before disappearing in the 1980s into a life on the streets in Florida and California. He faced up to life in prison if convicted.
Detectives first tried to link him to the slaying in the early '80s, but they said they didn't have enough evidence to bring charges until a cold case squad reopened the investigation five years ago. New DNA evidence, they said, connected Bowman with the killing, and police arrested him near Palm Springs, Calif., in 2008.
His former wife was a key witness in the trial, testifying that she found Adams naked in their fruit cellar after the girl disappeared just before Christmas 1967.
Margaret Bowman said she was hanging laundry when she thought she heard rats in the cellar. She said she opened a wooden door and saw a girl with her arms outstretched and bound, "hanging like Jesus."
She said she ran upstairs and her husband confronted her, saying he had to kill the girl. He also threatened to kill his wife and their newborn daughter if she told anyone, she said.
That same night, she testified, Bowman made her go with him as he dumped the body just north of Toledo, across the state line in Michigan.
Defense attorney Peter Rost tried to cast doubt on Margaret Bowman's account. He said she waited 14 years to tell her story to police and that she stayed with Bowman for 11 years and moved with him to three different states before leaving when his business failed.
Even after she went to detectives in 1981, they still didn't charge Bowman, Rost said during his closing arguments. "They didn't believe her enough," he said.
He also said prosecutors couldn't say where or when the girl died and that the DNA evidence did not conclusively point to Bowman.
"The case comes down to, do you believe what Margaret Bowman testified?" prosecutor Chris Anderson told jurors.
Bowman had owned a construction company in Ohio and later a business that made high-end purses in Florida and sold them in Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.
But when police detectives tracked him down in Florida in 1982, he was living in an abandoned restaurant, wearing a tattered shirt and jeans and a scruffy beard.
Hanging from the restaurant ceiling were three dolls, some with their feet bound with string. A nail had been driven into the head of two dolls — eerily similar to how a hunter had found the body of Adams.
Bowman talked with police, but he then dropped out of sight.
Cold case investigators in 2006 discovered that DNA evidence from semen on the victim's thermal underwear linked Bowman to the crime, they said. Police soon after charged Bowman even though they had no idea where he was living or even if he was still alive.
He was profiled on the "America's Most Wanted" and police in Southern California arrested him when he was spotted riding a bicycle. His attorney said he had been living under a tarp in the desert.