A former medical resident and poison specialist at Mayo Clinic is facing a second-degree murder charge for allegedly killing his wife, a pharmacist, with a drug used to treat gout.
Connor Bowman, 34, is accused of giving his wife, Betty Bowman, 32, a lethal dose of colchicine, a drug that can cause severe side effects such as organ failure and death in high doses. He then tried to prevent an autopsy by claiming she had a rare disease and requesting immediate cremation, according to the criminal complaint filed in Dakota County District Court.
“The defendant’s actions were calculated, intentional and planned,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom in a statement. “He researched the drug and calculated the fatal dosage before administering it to his wife.”
According to the complaint, Connor Bowman called 911 on Oct. 12 and reported that his wife was unresponsive and not breathing. He performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
He told the police that his wife had been suffering from a rare condition called familial Mediterranean fever, which causes inflammation and pain in the abdomen, chest and joints. He said he had been treating her with colchicine, which he obtained from his workplace.
He also said he wanted to have her body cremated as soon as possible, without an autopsy, because of her religious beliefs. He said he had already contacted a funeral home and arranged for the cremation.
However, the police became suspicious of his story and obtained a search warrant for his phone and computer. They found that he had searched for information about colchicine toxicity, lethal dosage and symptoms on various websites. He also searched for how to stop an autopsy and how to get away with murder.
The police also learned that he had marital problems and stood to gain $500,000 from his wife’s life insurance policy. He had also filed for divorce in July, but later withdrew the petition.
The police arrested Connor Bowman on Oct. 23 and charged him with second-degree murder. He is being held on $1 million bail.
Betty Bowman’s family said they were shocked and devastated by her death and the allegations against her husband.
“She was a wonderful person. She was very kind. She was very smart,” said Betty’s sister, Mary Nguyen. “She loved her job as a pharmacist. She loved helping people.”
Colchicine is a drug that is used to treat gout, a type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in the joints. It works by reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of crystals that cause gout attacks.
However, colchicine can also be very dangerous if taken in high doses or for a long time. It can cause serious side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, kidney failure, liver damage and death.
“It’s a very rare case. I don’t think there’s been a documented case of somebody murdering somebody with colchicine in the state of Minnesota,” said Dr. Jon Cole, the medical director of the Minnesota Poison Control System.
He said colchicine poisoning is hard to detect because it mimics other conditions and there is no specific antidote for it.
“It’s not something that we see very often. It’s not something that we test for very often,” he said.
Connor Bowman has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he loved his wife dearly.
“I loved my wife dearly and I would never do anything to harm her,” he said in a recorded phone call from jail.
– Poison specialist Connor Bowman fatally poisoned his pharmacist wife and tried to stop autopsy, Minnesota authorities say, CBS News, October 25, 2023
– Poison control specialist doctor accused of killing his wife with gout medicine, Yahoo News, October 25, 2023
– A poison expert researched this drug before his wife died from it. Now he’s facing prison., USA Today, October 25, 2023
– Ex-Mayo Clinic Poison Specialist Kills Wife With Poison, Police Say, Patch, October 24, 2023