A “poison specialist” in Minnesota has been charged with murdering his wife by allegedly giving her a lethal dose of colchicine, a drug used to treat gout.
Connor Bowman, 30, was arrested on Friday, October 20 2023, and charged with the second-degree murder of his wife, according to Olmsted Country court documents.
Betty, the wife of Bowman, was rushed to a hospital in Minnesota’s Olmsted County on August 16 with severe gastrointestinal distress and dehydration, which hospital staff initially thought was food poisoning. Her condition quickly deteriorated and she died at the hospital on August 20 after experiencing organ failure.
The following day, the medical examiner's office informed the local police the woman’s death was suspicious, prompting an investigation. Police received information that Bowman and his wife were experiencing “marital issues and were talking about a divorce following infidelity and a deteriorating relationship.”
They also learned that Bowman had attended pharmacy school, worked in poison control in Kansas, and was currently in medical school. The court documents labeled him as a “poison specialist” whose work involved answering calls regarding poisons.
The victim had allegedly told others that her husband had fallen into debt. He later told someone that he was set to receive $500,000 in life insurance as a result of his wife’s death.
On August 15, the day before she was admitted to the hospital, Betty was messaging a friend and said she was drinking at home with Bowman. The next morning, she messaged stating she had been extremely sick all night. The victim mentioned that she thought it was a drink she had received that made her ill because it was mixed in a large smoothie.
Bowman’s internet activity was also cited in the court documents. He was allegedly searching things like “internet browsing history: can it be used in court?”, “Police track package delivery”, and “delete amazon data police.” His internet history also suggests he was researching colchicine. However, he had not received any calls regarding colchicine, nor had any of his other employees.
Authorities even claim Bowman attempted to hamper the autopsy on his wife, arguing she should be cremated immediately. He also allegedly asked the hospital for a list of what the body was specifically going to be tested for.
Toxicology results showed that colchicine was present in the victim’s blood and urine, despite medical records showing no evidence she was prescribed the drug or had ever suffered from gout.
Colchicine is a medication used to treat gout, a painful form of arthritis caused by uric acid crystals that form in and around the joints. It's been used for centuries to treat swollen joints in the form of the poisonous plant autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), which contains colchicine.
Colchicine has a very low threshold for toxicity, so doctors are extremely careful when prescribing it. A 2010 paper in the journal Clinical Toxicology explains that colchicine has a "dark side," explaining that it has "no clear-cut distinction between nontoxic, toxic, and lethal doses, causing substantial confusion among clinicians."
Bowman is reportedly scheduled to appear in court on November 1.