Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Bowman jury heads into second day of deliberations

Defendant charged in 1967 murder of Sylvania Township schoolgirl


Robert Bowman, 75, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Eileen Adams, 14, of Sylvania Township in 1967.


Jurors in the trial of the 75-year-old man accused in the 1967 slaying of a schoolgirl ended their deliberations late Monday night and were sequestered overnight at a hotel.

The panel was told by Judge Gene Zmuda to return to the Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to resume deliberations.

In addition to the jury of nine women and three men, four alternate jurors are being sequestered in case their service is needed. They are being kept in the courthouse separate from the panel of 12 jurors, Lucas County prosecutors said.

Robert Bowman, 75, is charged with first degree murder in the death of Eileen Adams. Witnesses testified that the 14-year-old Sylvania Township teenager was last seen Dec. 17, 1967, as she was traveling on a city bus to her sister's West Toledo home after school.

Her body was found Jan. 30, 1968, in a Monroe County field bound in a braided, brown rug. Her hands were tied in front of her and a cord was wrapped around her neck and attached to her bound ankles. A nail had been driven into the back of her skull.

"The case went cold," Assistant County Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson said during closing arguments. "It never actually warmed up because there never was a legitimate suspect. Not until December, 1981, when Margaret Bowman came forward."

Bowman's ex-wife, Margaret, was one of 17 witnesses to testify over seven days.

Ms. Bowman testified that she had seen a young girl with tape over her mouth tied up in a small room in her basement. She further testified that after running upstairs she was confronted by a "raving" Bowman, who told her that he was now forced to kill the victim.

Ms. Bowman said that she learned the victim's name when she found school books later in her kitchen.

She said that she never went to police because Bowman threatened to kill her and her newborn daughter if she told anyone what she saw. He then forced her to accompany him as he dumped the body in a field, she testified.

Defense attorney Pete Rost reminded jurors not to decide the case based on sympathy but instead on "law and evidence." He questioned Ms. Bowman's credibility and pointed out that most of the details of Miss Adams' disappearance and recovery were published in the media for anyone to see.

He noted that even after Ms. Bowman went to authorities in 1981, Bowman was questioned but never arrested.

"Margaret Bowman told police that Robert Bowman killed Eileen Adams," he said. "She said it for a month and a half and yet no charges were filed."

Mr. Rost asked jurors to consider the many questions not answered, including how Miss Adams died. He noted that experts testified about the victim's crushed skull but that the original autopsy report listed strangulation as the cause of death.

Assistant Prosecutor Tim Braun acknowledged it was unclear whether Miss Adams' death was caused by the severe blows to her head or being tied with her ankles attached to her neck so that she slowly choked to death.

"Both choices lead to the same result," he said. "This is a purposeful, malicious, premeditated death."

Mr. Braun showed jurors again two dolls found where Bowman was living when detectives interviewed him in early 1982. One was a Spiderman doll with its hands and ankles tied and a needle protruding from between its eyes. A second was the head of a "Ken" doll with a nail -- similar to the one in the victim's skull -- driven into the back of its head.

"What makes this doll so important is what it tells you about the defendant," Mr. Braun said, noting that both dolls offer an image similar to how the victim was found.

Assistant prosecutors noted that the case was reopened in 2006 and unlike in years past, DNA was now a tool. Mr. Anderson said that tests on the victim's clothing showed a semen stain and that a DNA test linked it to Bowman.

In particular, DNA analysts concluded that the likelihood that the semen was from someone other than Bowman was 1 in 4.15 million. Mr. Anderson noted that the population of the country in 1970 was 203,184,772 people.

"About half the population is women, so that leaves about 100 million people," Mr. Anderson said. "That adds up to about 25 people in the entire country, or one in every other state."

Mr. Anderson questioned how many of those men lived within blocks of where Miss Adams was walking on that December day.

Contact Erica Blake at: or 419-213-2134.

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