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Published: Saturday, 10/4/2008

Family grateful for arrest in slaying

Bowman Bowman
AP Enlarge

Family members of a 14-year-old Sylvania Township girl murdered almost 41 years ago said yesterday they are thankful the accused killer is behind bars.

But they added that they now are being forced to relive the pain they felt after the body of Eileen Adams was found in a field in Monroe County's Whiteford Township about six weeks after she was reported missing on Dec. 18, 1967.

"Having to relive events of 40 years ago and knowing what those events have done to an innocent family is not going to be easy or pleasant," the Adams family said in a statement yesterday released by Toledo police.

Robert Baxter Bowman, 72, formerly of the 2200 block of West Sylvania Avenue and whom authorities described as now being homeless, was arrested Thursday while riding his bicycle in Cathedral City, Calif., near Palm Springs.

Bowman was charged with aggravated murder and was being held in a Riverside County, California, jail pending extradition to Ohio, authorities said.

He was interviewed yesterday by Toledo police Sgt. Steve Forrester and Detective Bart Beavers of the Toledo-Lucas County cold-case unit. The two are expected to spend the weekend in California interviewing Bowman.

Russ Simpson, who created the local chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, said he remembers the anger in the voice of Larry Adams, Eileen's father, who began attending meetings with his wife, Mary, when the group was formed in 1983. Mary died in 2002.

"He was hurt. You could tell he was hurt," he said.

Mr. Simpson, who lost a son and daughter in separate murders, said families eventually learn how to cope with the deaths.

Still, the arrest of a murder suspect so many years later can dredge up painful memories, he said. "It takes one of the big question marks out of their heads and puts them more at ease, but they don't want to relive the whole thing over again," Mr. Simpson said. "They haven't forgot about it, but they've put it in the past."

Bowman is accused of kidnapping, raping, and murdering Miss Adams, who was a freshman at Central Catholic High School. About 3:15 p.m. the day the girl disappeared, she left school and took a bus to a relative's house in West Toledo, where she was to meet her father.

She got off the bus at West Sylvania and Kelly avenues about 20 minutes later but never arrived at her older sister's home in the 2000 block of Brussels Street. Forty-three days later, the girl's frozen, clothed body was found wrapped in a mattress cover and brown, oval braided rug in a field. An electric cord was tied around the rug. Her coat and shoes were missing.

Her wrists and ankles were bound with drapery cord. A telephone cord was looped around her neck and tied to her ankles, bending her backward.

Strangulation - believed to be the result of attempts to free herself - was ruled the cause of death. She also had been sexually assaulted.

Police had no leads on suspects until Bowman's ex-wife came forward in 1981. As a result of information she provided, Toledo police detectives made two trips to the Miami area, where they interviewed Bowman twice. But there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him.

The case was reopened in September, 2006, after off-duty police Sgt. Mike McGee met Miss Adams' father, who told him of his daughter's brutal death. The sergeant talked with members of the cold-case squad, who pulled the case, reviewed the files, noted the brutality of the teenager's death and the potential for DNA, and pursued it.

Tests conducted about two years ago by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation lab in Bowling Green with Bowman's ex-wife and his daughter found DNA compatible with semen found in Miss Adams' underwear.

An arrest warrant was issued Nov. 27, 2006, for Bowman, charging him with aggravated murder.

The murder was profiled on American's Most Wanted three times and has been posted on its Web site for about a year. Steve Katz, supervising producer, said the show received "a lot" of tips regarding the possible whereabouts of Bowman.

Contact Laren Weber at:


or 419-724-6050.

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