Murder charges upgraded against Mayo Clinic physician accused of poisoning wife

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ROCHESTER, Minn. — A former Mayo Clinic doctor accused of poisoning his wife in August will now be facing a first-degree murder charge in the case.

Connor Bowman. (Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Connor Bowman, 30, was charged by a grand jury for first-degree premeditated murder on Thursday. In Minnesota, first-degree murder can only be charged by a grand jury. The Olmsted County Attorney’s Office said in a news release that if he is convicted of first-degree murder, Connor Bowman “shall be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of release.”

Bowman is also facing a second-degree murder with intent-not premeditated charge in Olmsted County in connection with the death of his wife, Betty Bowman. Connor Bowman is accused of using colchicine, a drug used to treat gout, to poison her last August.

The indictment also listed several witnesses examined before the grand jury, including a detective with the Rochester Police Department, four Mayo Clinic doctors and a nurse for Mayo Clinic.

Connor Bowman’s next court date is slated for Jan. 16.

According to the criminal complaint:

Betty Bowman died on Aug. 20 after she went to the emergency room days earlier complaining of diarrhea and dehydration.

RPD was notified on Aug. 21, 2023, by the Southeast Minnesota Medical Examiner’s Office of a suspicious death. Betty Bowman was scheduled to be cremated, but that was halted after the examiner’s office learned of possible suspicious circumstances.

A woman called the examiner’s office and said that Betty and her husband were having marital issues and were talking about filing for divorce due to infidelity.

She was admitted to a hospital with severe gastrointestinal distress and dehydration on Aug. 16, and her condition rapidly deteriorated.

Her symptoms were similar to those of food poisoning, but she did not respond to standard treatments and continued to deteriorate while at the hospital. She experienced cardiac issues, fluid in her lungs, and eventually organ failure. She was taken into surgery after it was discovered that part of her colon was dead tissue.

Connor Bowman suggested to doctors while his wife was hospitalized that she was suffering from hematophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack organs.

He told multiple people she died from this disease despite tests of his wife coming back inconclusive for it, according to court documents. He also included it in her obituary.

He told the medical examiner that she should be cremated immediately and argued that her death was natural. He also attempted to cancel the autopsy and asked investigators if the toxicology analysis would be more thorough than usual.

Connor Bowman worked in poison control in Kansas.

According to the complaint, the couple had separate bank accounts due to debt and he stood to receive $500,000 in life insurance following her death.

A witness told law enforcement that Betty Bowman said she had been drinking with Connor on Aug. 15 and she was feeling sick the next morning. She told her friend that she believed the drink, a large smoothie, had caused the illness, according to court documents.

A detective found that Connor Bowman had looked at his wife’s medical information while she was in the hospital.

Court documents say that a laptop from the University of Kansas that was owned by Connor Bowman was searched by the university. The search found internet searches for colchicine, a drug used to treat gout. There were also several internet searches related to hiding information from police on the laptop, as well as a search for where to obtain sodium nitrate, a drug used to restrict oxygen in the bloodstream, according to court documents.

Connor Bowman also searched for and found the lethal dosage of colchicine for his wife’s weight, according to the report. Police also found that he had purchased colchicine online.

A toxicology report listed colchicine as a substance in Betty Bowman’s system. She did not suffer from any ailments that would require the drug.

Connor Bowman was arrested on Oct. 20. He has been held at the Adult Detention Center since his arrest.

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