For the past two months, Betty Bowman’s friends and family have been grieving the loss of the Minnesota mother they believed died from a rare autoimmune disorder. But now they are reeling from the shock over the allegations that she was murdered—by her doctor husband—for insurance money.
Dr. Connor Bowman, a 32-year-old who did his residency at the Mayo Clinic, was charged with second-degree murder after, prosecutors allege, he poisoned his wife in August with a drug used to treat gout. The killing was carried out against a backdrop of marital strife and infidelity and the promise of a $500,000 life insurance payout, prosecutors say.
Betty Bowman, a 32-year-old operating room pharmacist at Mayo, went to the hospital with severe gastrointestinal distress and dehydration. Her symptoms took a sharp turn for the worse; she experienced cardiac issues, fluid in her lungs, and organ failure, and had surgery to remove part of her colon.
Her husband was the first to suggest that Betty was suffering from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), an infection in which white blood cells damage organs, according to the criminal complaint. After just four days, Betty died in the hospital. HLH was listed as the cause of death on her obituary, although prosecutors say a test for the condition was inconclusive.
One of Betty's friends, Mary Bartlett, told The Daily Beast that “what happened to Betty was horrific, and we hope justice prevails.”
“She was truly a one-of-a-kind individual,” Sarah Leeser, a friend who set up a GoFundMe for the family, told The Daily Beast. “So intelligent and caring and lived life to the fullest.”
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Betty’s family described how the pharmacist has a “remarkable ability to make everyone feel special” and that her “kindness, warmth, and genuine compassion touched the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing her.”
“Betty had a passion for life that was infectious. She lived life to the fullest, embracing each day with enthusiasm and job,” the family added.”Co-workers continue to speak positively about her which speaks loudly to show how she carried her positive energy both in her personal and professional life.”
Meanwhile, the criminal complaint paints her husband as a murderous schemer.
It says Connor Bowman purchased colchicine and sodium nitrate online, made some suspicious internet searches just before the murder, and then tried to cover his tracks with an unsuccessful attempt to cancel an autopsy and rush a cremation. Bowman is in jail on a $2 million bond, and his lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Authorities were first alerted to possible foul play the day after Betty’s Aug. 20 death, when the Southeast Minnesota Medical Examiner’s Office reported it halted a request for cremation after learning from an unnamed source that the Bowmans “were having marital issues and were talking about a divorce following infidelity and a deteriorating relationship,” the complaint says.
The couple, who had been together since at least 2016, got married in 2021, and Facebook photos showed they honeymooned in Hawaii. They moved to Minnesota when before Connor Bowman got accepted into the internal medicine residency program at the Mayo Clinic, according to the obituary. The couple also shared a corgi named Sir Crumpet II of Mulberry.
Prior to the move, Connor Bowman attended pharmacy school and worked in poison control in Kansas. Betty’s family added in the statement that while she loved food and traveling, she decided to become a pharmacist after working as a pharmacy tech as a young age. She completed her pharmaceutical residency in 2018 and worked as a hospital pharmacist. The complaint states that the pair had separate bank accounts and that Connor Bowman was in debt.
Days before she was admitted to the hospital, Betty was texting a man about how “she had a few days off work and was looking to spend some time with him,” the complaint says. The next day, she texted him that “she was sick and could not sleep at all because she felt so ill.” She added “that she thought it was a drink she had received that caused her illness because it was mixed in a large smoothie.”
Throughout her stay at a Rochester hospital, prosecutors say Bowman checked his wife’s electronic health records, including doctor notes and the operating room log, with his hospital credentials. After her death, Bowman allegedly continued to look at the log daily and even modified an entry on Aug. 22.
“Bowman created a documentation encounter but did not add anything,” the complaint states. “Because Bowman created a documentation, he was identified as part of [his wife’s] care team which allowed him to enter the medical record without entering his credentials.”
Investigators got their break in the case when they obtained a search warrant for Bowman’s house and his laptop, which showed he had researched colchicine, even though he had not received any calls about the gout drug. He also looked up sodium nitrate, which is used to limit oxygen throughout the body. “There was then a Google shop page for various vendors selling sodium nitrate,” the complaint states.
Prosecutors also said Bowman searched “internet browsing history: can it be used in court?” “Police track package delivery,” and “delete amazon data police” on Aug. 5. Five days later, he allegedly looked up “food v. industrial grade sodium nitrate” and calculated his wife’s weight to determine a legal dosage of colchicine.
The Minnesota Department of Health found traces of colchicine in Betty’s blood and urine samples but no previous diagnosis of gout or HLH. The results also concluded that Betty received the lethal dose about 24 hours before she exhibited symptoms and went to the hospital.
“Once this determination was made, Bowman was arrested on October 20, 2023. At that time, law enforcement also executed another search warrant on Bowman’s residence,” the complaint states. “Officers located a receipt for a $450,000 bank deposit inside.”