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Med student and poison specialist accused of fatally poisoning wife

A medical examiner alerted authorities after noticing suspicious details in the case of a 32-year-old woman's death.
Med student and poison specialist accused of fatally poisoning wife
Posted at 2:34 PM, Oct 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-25 14:34:11-04

A medical student and poison specialist in Minnesota is accused of fatally poisoning his wife.

The Rochester Police Department (RPD) said 30-year-old Connor Bowman was charged Monday with second-degree murder over the death of his wife, 32-year-old Betty Bowman, who died in August. 

Officials allege Connor poisoned her with liquid colchicine, according to local station Fox 9

Betty was hospitalized on Aug. 16 with symptoms consistent with food poisoning, including diarrhea and severe dehydration, police said. She declined rapidly, suffering from cardiac arrest and fluid in her lungs, and her organs began to fail, according to Fox 9.

Betty died days later on Aug. 20.

A medical examiner notified police on Aug. 21 that Betty was possibly poisoned.

Connor suggested his wife died from the rare disease Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), which is a severe systemic inflammatory syndrome that can cause a strong activation of the immune system and can be fatal, according to the Immune Deficiency Foundation. Connor listed this as the cause of death in his wife's obituary, though tests for the illness came back inconclusive. 

The medical examiner's office noticed suspicious behavior by Connor. They said he insisted his wife be cremated immediately and that her death was natural. He attempted to have the autopsy canceled and questioned if the toxicology analysis would be "more thorough" and wanted a list of tests, Fox 9 said.

"RPD collected evidence that suggests Connor, who once worked for Poison Control, may have given Betty a drug for an ailment she did not have," the police department said in a press release.

Investigators learned Connor went to pharmacy school in Kansas, where he worked as a poison specialist, and was now a medical student in debt. They said Connor, whose bank account was separate from his wife's, indicated he would receive a $500,000 life insurance payout from Betty's death , which he said was related to HLH, according to court records obtained by Fox 9.

Others in Betty's life, however, described her as a healthy person. She started feeling ill on Aug. 16 after drinking a large smoothie at home, records show.

While Connor had access to his wife's health records, they expired when she died. Being that he was a medical student, Connor continued to access them after her passing and even made modifications.

Court records show Connor looked up "internet browsing history: can it be used in court?," "police track package delivery," and how to delete one's Amazon history.

On Aug. 10, Connor had been searching lethal dosages of substances while also converting his wife's weight to kilograms. At the same time, he had been looking up liquid colchicine while shopping online.

Betty's blood and urine came back positive for the drug.

The medical examiner determined effects from colchicine caused her to die and her death was ruled a homicide.

On Oct. 20, a search warrant by police found Connor made a $450,000 bank deposit.

Connor appeared in court for the first time Monday afternoon and his bail was set at $5 million without conditions, or $2 million with conditions, according to Fox 9.

He is due back in court on Nov. 1.

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