ROCHESTER, Minn. — A 30-year-old Rochester man is accused of fatally poisoning his wife, a Mayo Clinic pharmacist.
The Olmsted County Attorney's Office charged Connor Fitzgerald Bowman on Monday with one count of second-degree murder.
The criminal complaint states that Connor's wife died on Aug. 20 after she was hospitalized four days earlier for an apparent bout of food poisoning. According to her obituary, 32-year-old Betty Bowman died at the Mayo Clinic's St. Marys Hospital "following a sudden onset of autoimmune and infectious illness."
While hospitalized, Betty suffered heart issues, fluid buildup in her lungs, and had to have part of her colon removed. She eventually died from organ failure.
The next day, the Southeast Minnesota Medical Examiner's Office contacted the Rochester Police Department to report that Betty's death was suspicious in nature.
The complaint says they told police Connor, who used to work at the Mayo Clinic, contacted the office to halt the autopsy and push for Betty's immediate cremation, saying she "didn't want to be a cadaver." He had also contacted one of the death investigators to inquire about the scope and timeline of the toxicology analysis.
Staff at St. Marys, as well as Betty's friends, told investigators Connor believed she died from the rare condition hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, and even cited it as the cause of death in her obituary.
One of Betty's friends told investigators she was "a healthy person," and her marriage was in peril due to infidelity and other issues, and divorce was on the horizon. She also claimed the couple had separate bank accounts due to Connor's medical school debts, and that Connor told the friend he was set to collect $500,000 in life insurance, according to the complaint.
Investigators also spoke with a man who had been texting with Betty in the days before her death. On the night before her hospitalization, the man told police Betty texted to say she was at home drinking with Connor. The next morning, Betty texted him to say she felt sick and couldn't sleep, and she thought the culprit was a large smoothie she had consumed.
A detective began investigating Connor's online history. They noted Connor repeatedly checked Betty's e-health records between Aug. 20-31, and at one point he was placed on her care team, which allowed him access to her medical records without having to enter his credentials.
The complaint states that the detective got a search warrant for Connor's work laptop issued by the University of Kansas, where he worked as a poison specialist, fielding poison control-related phone calls.
The university later alerted the detective in late September that Connor had been using university-issued devices in the days before Betty's death to search for information on the gout drug colchicine and sodium nitrate, which can limit the movement of oxygen in the body.
He is also alleged to have made web searches on those devices about whether internet browsing histories can be used in court, if police can track package deliveries, and "delete amazon data police."
The complaint notes that police said Connor used an online tool on several occasions to convert Betty's weight to milligrams and then multiplied that number by 0.8 mg — colchicine's lethal dosage rate.
He also searched for information on purchasing liquid colchicine five days before Betty got sick, and made visits to a website that "helps service online purchases," which investigators say "coincided with the online activity for purchasing colchicine," the complaint states.
Toxicology reports eventually revealed that colchicine was present in Betty's system the day after she was hospitalized. Her death was ruled a homicide on Oct. 20, and police arrested Connor that same day. Investigators say a receipt for a $450,000 bank deposit was found in his residence.
Connor is being held in the Olmsted County Jail. If convicted, he could face up to 40 years in prison.
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