Charges against a Minnesota poison control doctor who allegedly poisoned his wife with unnecessary gout medication – a theory supported by the man’s search history and strange behavior after her death – have been upgraded from second- to first-degree premeditated murder, according to his indictment last week.
Dr. Connor Bowman of the Mayo Clinic, 30, was arrested in October for allegedly killing his wife Betty Bowman, 32, a pharmacist at the hospital. The two reportedly had an open relationship that deteriorated and talks of divorce.
On Thursday, Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem announced that a grand jury indicted Bowman on one count of first-degree premeditated murder with intent and an additional count of second-degree murder with intent.
A penalty for life in prison without the possibility of parole is authorized in the indictment, according to a press release from Ostrem’s office.
“Betty Bowman became suddenly ill, reported to the hospital emergency department and on Aug. 20, 2023, she died,” the release reads. “Following an exhaustive investigation, law enforcement determined that Ms. Bowman died from a poisoning.”
An Olmsted County coroner reached out to police when Bowman asked that his wife be “cremated immediately” following her four-day hospital stay and death on Aug. 20.
Around the same time, a concerned friend of the deceased woman called the examiner’s office, warning them that the couple were “talking about a divorce following infidelity and a deteriorating relationship.”
Friends would later tell police that the two were experimenting with an open relationship, but that Betty Bowman was threatening divorce after her husband developed an emotional connection to another woman, the Post Bulletin reported.
In the weeks leading up to her death, court documents show, Betty had also told them her husband was in about $500,000 debt, and that they kept separate bank accounts.
Meanwhile, according to a probable cause affidavit, Connor mentioned to a friend that he stood to receive a $500,000 insurance payout in the event of his wife’s death. Investigations found a $450,000 bank deposit note when they searched the Bowmans’ home after the doctor’s arrest, court documents show.
Bowman’s arrest and the search of his home were set in motion after police ordered Betty’s blood samples to be tested at the Minnesota Department of Health.
There, medical professionals determined that 29ng/ml of colchicine – a medication commonly used in much smaller doses to treat gout – was in her bloodstream when she died. There was no reason for her to take the drug because she did not have any gout symptoms that would lead a doctor to prescribe them, medical examiners noted.
Betty’s cause of death was ruled as the toxic effects of colchicine, according to court documents, and her manner of death was ruled a suicide.
Bowman wrote in his late wife’s obituary that she suffered from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) – a rare illness where certain blood cells are over-produced and damage organs. Tests performed for HLH were inconclusive, police wrote.
But after searching his electronic devices, detectives learned that Bowman used his medical credentials from working at a Kansas poison control center to access his wife’s electronic health information during her emergency department stay for suspected food poisoning.
He also accessed her information a few days after she died, reviewing the medication she was administered, her reported allergies and an operating room log.
Doctors’ treatment for food poisoning had been ineffective, and the woman succumbed to organ failure and fluid in her lungs – according to arresting documents, she was perfectly healthy before she was admitted. Before she went to the hospital, Bowman searched the drug colchicine.
He was supposed to use the University of Kansas computer to look up medications relevant to calls to the poison control center, but neither he nor his coworkers had any calls pertaining to gout or colchicine during the weeks preceding his wife’s death.
Days before she fell ill, Bowman allegedly searched “delete Amazon history police,” “police track package delivery” and “internet browsing history: can it be used in court?”
Five days later, he allegedly searched “food v. industrial grade sodium nitrate,” according to the history on the seized computer, and looked up a medical journal used by doctors to test the lethality of certain substances.
He converted his wife’s weight to kilograms and multiplied it by 0.8 to determine the lethal dose of colchicine, investigators believe.
Days before Betty fell ill, Bowman purchased a gift card for a website that sold the drug, police said.
A man who was dating Betty, referred to as “SS” in court documents, told detectives that the woman “had a few days off and was looking to spend some time with him” on Aug. 14.
After they met up the next day, she and the man texted back and forth while she and her husband drank alcohol at home.
The next day, before she was admitted to the hospital, Betty texted the other man that she was sick and unable to sleep – she blamed an alcoholic drink mixed with a large smoothie she drank last night for her illness, the man told police.
Betty had graduated from the University of Kansas with a pharmaceutical doctorate in 2018 and worked as a “diligent and capable hospital pharmacist,” according to her obituary.
Bowman’s next court date is scheduled for Jan. 16, according to Ostrem’s press release, and his bail is set at $2 million.