HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Thirty years after a woman was abducted in Ottawa County, she says she now believes she knows who did it.

Investigators are looking at the possibility that Dennis Bowman, 70, of Allegan County, is responsible for the 1989 attack.

A February 2020 mug shot of Dennis Bowman, from the Norfolk, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office.

He is currently locked up in Virginia for another cold case, the 1980 murder of Kathleen Doyle in Norfolk. And earlier this month, investigators found human remains in his backyard near Hamilton. They are being tested to see if they belong to his adopted daughter Aundria Bowman, who disappeared in 1989.

That same year, a Holland 6-year-old was kidnapped and nearly raped. No one has ever been arrested for the crime.

“I’ve been kind of looking over my shoulder for 30 years,” said the victim, whose name News 8 is not using to protect her identity.

The details of that day are ingrained in her mind. 

“The smell. Like sometimes if I’m at a store or something, the smell will remind me of it,” she said, describing it as a strong scent like paint.

She also remembers rough, dirty hands “stroking my cheek and then putting my hair behind my ear.” The sound of a zipper and dogs barking. 

“I thought I was going to be dead,” she said.

Investigators say the 6-year-old was passing by what used to be the Windmill gas station off of 160th Avenue in Holland when she was approached by a man in a rusty red pickup truck.

“He was staring at me,” she remembers.

It was Friday in September. The first grader has just gotten out of school at Harrington Elementary School across the street. She was on her way to a friend’s house when the truck pulled up in her path. 

“He was like, ‘Hey, hey, hey, look at this,’” she recalled. “So I stopped and then look back here, ‘There’s puppies, there’s puppies’ (he said).”

She said she was grabbed and placed in the stranger’s pickup. 

“He said that ‘Your mom said I could take you to see some puppies,’” she said.

During the drive, she recalls seeing a police car and the man forcing her to lay back out of sight. 

“He kept driving and I just kept saying, ‘Are we there yet, are we there yet?’” she said.

Finally, he parked, but there were no puppies. 

“Everything changed. His whole demeanor changed,” she said. 

She says he grabbed a rope and dragged her into woods near Silver Creek County Campground in Hamilton. 

“He took off all my clothes,” she said.

Her sweater, which read, “young at heart,” was tied around her mouth. Then she heard a zipper and says she felt him standing over her naked body.

Suddenly, dogs began barking. The man took off.

She was able to untie herself and wave down a passing driver, who called 911. 

She helped create a sketch of her kidnapper, which some say resembles Bowman at the time.

On the left is a composite drawing of suspect in a 1989 child abduction in Ottawa County. On the right is a booking photo of Dennis Bowman in 1980.
On the left is a composite drawing of suspect in a 1989 child abduction in Ottawa County. On the right is a booking photo of Dennis Bowman in 1980.

She later learned that Bowman was working in Holland, not far from the abduction site, at the time of the crime. His job was to stain wood for boats. 

A request has been made to test the rope and her sweater from the crime for Bowman’s DNA.

Bowman has not been charged in connection to the abduction. News 8 reached out to him for comment, but he declined. 

In 1981, he was convicted of sexual assault. According to police reports, he stopped a 19-year-old West Olive woman who was riding her bike on Lakeshore Drive and ordered her into the woods. A passing driver distracted Bowman and the woman was able to run away. Bowman fired two shots during the incident, though no one was hit.

In 1999, he was convicted of felony breaking and entering. Authorities say he broke into a female co-worker’s home and stole lingerie. 

At his home, police said they found a duffel bag containing a short-barreled shotgun, black ski-mask, black sweatshirt and intimate apparel. There were pry bars in his truck.