Ohio retrial under way for suspect in 1967 killing

AP News
Posted: Oct 17, 2011 3:21 PM
Ohio retrial under way for suspect in 1967 killing

A man accused of holding a 14-year-old schoolgirl captive for days in his basement before killing her in 1967 went on trial Monday for the second time in two months after jurors failed to reach a verdict the first time around.

Prosecutors indicated they plan to bring new evidence against 75-year-old Robert Bowman that they say will link him to the killing.

Bowman is charged with murder in the death of Eileen Adams, a Toledo high school freshman who vanished on her way home from school and whose body was found tied up and wrapped in a rug a month later in a southern Michigan field.

He has pleaded not guilty and faces life in prison if he's convicted. Jurors in August couldn't reach a unanimous verdict after several weeks of testimony and 12 hours of deliberations.

Detectives tried to connect Bowman to the slaying in the early 1980s after his former wife described a nightmarish scene of finding Eileen alive in their basement fruit cellar with her arms outstretched and bound, tape covering her mouth.

Ex-wife Margaret Bowman told detectives that he made her go with him when he dumped the body, but her story wasn't enough to bring charges until a cold case squad reopened the investigation five years ago. New DNA evidence connected Bowman with the killing, prosecutors said, and police arrested him near Palm Springs, Calif., in 2008.

Margaret Bowman is expected to testify again.

Defense attorney Peter Rost tried to cast doubt on her account during the initial trial. He said that 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 only when his business failed.

Both sides acknowledged that she also had a serious drinking problem.

On Monday, assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Weglian told jurors that DNA evidence from semen on the victim's thermal underwear found that there was a one in 4 million chance that the stain came from someone other than Bowman.

"If Margaret Bowman made this story up out of spite or a drunken stupor, she had to be the luckiest liar," Weglian said during opening statements.

He also told jurors that investigators think a white dog might have been at the crime scene _ a new bit of information that didn't come up in the first trial. Bowman owned a white dog at the time, Weglian said.

Prosecutors were more graphic in describing how the girl died, telling jurors that her skull had been shattered in half and a nail had been driven through the back of her neck into the brain.

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Bowman's attorney said Monday that the DNA evidence didn't conclusively point to him and that other comparable tests did not match him.

Bowman had been a successful businessman before disappearing in the 1980s into a life on the streets in Florida and California.

He 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 Eileen's body.

When police charged him in 2006, two decades later, they had no idea where he was living or even if he was still alive. He was profiled on "America's Most Wanted" and police in Southern California arrested him in 2008 when he was spotted riding a bicycle. His attorney said he had been living under a tarp in the desert.