ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — A man accused of murdering his 14-year-old daughter more than 30 years ago told his wife that he was responsible for her death and also admitted to police that he dismembered her, witnesses told an Allegan County judge Monday.
After hearing the testimony during a preliminary hearing, the judge ruled there is enough evidence to send Dennis Lee Bowman, 71, to trial for the murder of his daughter Aundria.
Dennis Bowman and his wife had adopted Aundria as a baby. She vanished from the family’s Fillmore Township home, northwest of Hamilton, on March 11, 1989. In February 2020, her remains were found in a shallow grave at Bowman’s property in Monterey Township, east of Hamilton.
Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Workman testified Monday that while Bowman’s story changed, he said at one point that he found Aundria trying to run away, he punched her and she died after falling down the stairs. Instead of calling police, he hid her body and reported her missing.
Workman said Bowman told investigators where they could find Aundria’s remains.
“He made some comment about, ‘Now they can dig her up and you can put her in a can on your mantle,'” Allegan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Chris Haverdink testified before Workman.
Haverdink said Bowman told him that “now everyone is going to know what a rotten son of a (expletive) he was, that he’d been lying to everybody this whole time.”
Bowman’s wife and Aundria’s adopted mother Brenda Bowman testified that he admitted to her that their daughter was dead and that it was “his fault.” Brenda Bowman said her husband told her that he put Aundria in a box and put her out with the trash.
“He was talking something about ‘so near, so far, right under your nose,’ and I said, ‘What the heck are you talking about?'” Brenda Bowman recalled. “He said, ‘Aundria, she is buried in the backyard.’ I said, ‘No, she’s not. We didn’t even live here then.’ And he said, ‘Well, I moved her from the other house.'”
She said he told her he buried Aundria’s remains under a cement slab.
The medical examiner testified that that the girl had been dismembered and her body placed in separate trash bags along with household garbage. The M.E. went on to say the precise cause of Aundria’s death was unknown, saying it had simply been too long since it happened to determine.
Workman told the court that Bowman said he started using a machete to dismember the girl, but that it wasn’t working so he had to switch to an ax to “finish the job.” Investigators had recovered the machete from under Bowman’s bed.
Brenda Bowman also told the court that Aundria told her that Dennis Bowman was sexually abusing her, but that she didn’t believe her.
Bowman was arrested in November 2019 for the 1980 murder of Kathleen Doyle in Norfolk, Virginia. He pleaded guilty to the rape and murder in June 2020 and received two life sentences, plus 20 years for burglary.
Murder charges for Aundria’s death were filed against Bowman in May 2020. He was extradited back to Michigan after pleading in the Doyle case and formally arraigned in August on charges of open murder, felony murder, first-degree child abuse and mutilation of a dead body.
Bowman was convicted of sexual assault in 1981 after trying to rape a 19-year-old in West Olive; she managed to get away. He was also convicted of felony breaking and entering in 1999 after breaking into a female co-worker’s home and stole lingerie. A woman who was kidnapped in Holland and nearly raped when she was 6, also in 1989, told News 8 last year she believes Bowman could have done it. He was working in the area at the time. Authorities were looking into that last year; it’s unclear how far that investigation has progressed.
Bowman’s bond was set at $200,000 at the end of Monday’s proceedings.
—News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.