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The first witnesses in the murder trial of Robert Bowman testified before jurors in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Thursday about the day 14-year-old Eileen Adams went missing in December, 1967, and the discovery of her body weeks later.
Bowman, 75, is charged with murder in the first degree for the slaying of the Sylvania Township teenager, who was discovered missing after she failed to appear at her older sister’s West Toledo home after school.
Assistant County Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson told jurors during opening statements that the teenager was a freshman at Central Catholic High School and that after school, she would take the city bus to her sister’s nearby home.
On Dec. 18, 1967, contrary to he regular routine, Miss Adams did not show up, he said.
“The horrible truth comes to light when Eileen Adams’ body is found in … Monroe County,” he added. The youth had been found with her hands tied, a cord wrapped around her neck and attached down her back to her ankles, and bound in a brown circular rug, he said.
A three-inch nail had been pounded into the back of the girl’s skull, Mr. Anderson said.
Mr. Anderson outlined the ensuing investigation and the inability to find a viable suspect. The case went cold, he said.
That was until 1981 when Bowman’s then-wife, Margaret, came to police with information that pointed to her estranged husband, Mr. Anderson told jurors. The case was reactivated and police pursued Bowman to Florida where he was living.
There they found Bowman and with him, several dolls, Mr. Anderson said. Among those, was a Spiderman doll hanging by his ankles from the ceiling with a thread tied around its neck and connected to his feet.
Another doll – the head of a Ken doll – had a nail protruding from the back of its head.
But with insufficient evidence, the case cooled again, Mr. Anderson told jurors. That is until 2006 and with the advancement of science, cold-case detectives reopened the case and used DNA to get an arrest warrant for Bowman, he said.
“Two years later, police find Robert Bowman in Riverside, Calif.,” Mr. Anderson said.
Bowman’s attorney, Pete Rost, acknowledged in opening statements that there was no dispute that Miss Adams was murdered. But he said the case was not “quite as clear” as presented by the state.
He noted that after the teenager’s initial disappearance, her photo and description was highly publicized in the media. And after her body was found, he added, descriptions of her injuries and the bindings used to tie her were also widely publicized.
Dozens if not hundreds of tips followed, he told jurors, leading police to interview and investigate many different suspects. Robert Bowman, he added, was not among them.
And years later when police do question Bowman, “they arrest no one,” he said.
The first witness to testify was Miss Adams’ eldest sister, Mary Ann Brimmer, who spoke about how she had waited for her sister on the day she failed to show up at her house. Also testifying was retired Toledo police Detective Merritt Higbie, who was among the investigating officers after the teenager’s body was found.
Additional testimony is slated for Friday.