Connor Bowman, 30, was arrested Friday after a months-long investigation into the death of his 32-year-old wife Betty Jo Bowman, who died in August of what was initially believed to be a “sudden onset autoimmune and infectious illness,” according to her obituary.
Her husband, a medical resident at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, tried to stop the autopsy, and demanded she be cremated immediately, the criminal complaint stated. He told the medical examiner’s office that her death was natural and that she “did not want to be a cadaver.”
The medical examiner’s office halted the order for cremation, citing suspicious circumstances, according to a criminal complaint, and an autopsy showed Betty died from toxic effects of colchicine, a medicine used to treat gout. But medical records indicate she was not diagnosed with gout and had not been prescribed the medicine.
However, prosecutors allege her husband had been researching colchicine, including how much could kill someone. Six days before she was hospitalized, he had also converted her weight to kilograms and multiplied that by 0.8 — with 0.8 mg/kg considered to be the lethal dosage rate for colchicine, according to the complaint.
Betty, who was also a pharmacist at Mayo Clinic, had symptoms similar to food poisoning when she was admitted to the hospital, but her “condition deteriorated rapidly,” and she experienced cardiac issues, fluid in her lungs and organ failure.
Mr Bowman suggested she was suffering from a rare illness called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH. But hospital tests came back inconclusive for HLH.
An investigation found that Mr Bowman worked as a poison specialist in August and used University of Kansas-issued devices to search for information about colchicine, the drug used to treat gout, and sodium nitrate.
A woman from the University of Kansas told investigators about his searches, pointing out he had not received any calls about colchicine, nor had any other employees.
His online search history also included “internet browsing history: can it be used in court?” “delete amazon data police” and “food v. industrial grade sodium nitrate.”
Following Betty’s death, her loved ones reported to the police that her husband had been after her $500,000 life insurance policy. During the search of their home after Mr Bowman’s arrest on Friday, police found a receipt for a $450,000 deposit into his bank account.
He was charged Monday with second-degree murder and remained at the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center Tuesday on a $2m bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on 1 November.
A GoFundMe has been set up by close friends to help Betty’s family with legal costs, meals, bills and more.
“Betty adored her mom and I know she would want her and her family to be taken care of during this difficult time,” reads the GoFundMe. “Betty was a light to so many people and words cannot express how much she will be missed.”