In one sense, it's a crime story with a familiar ring: DNA evidence results in charges in a decades-old killing. In this case, 72-year-old Dennis Bowman of Holland, Michigan, will go on trial in January in the death of a 14-year-old girl who disappeared in 1989. But the story by Nile Cappello in Atavist magazine takes one twist after another. For one thing, the girl who was killed was Aundria Bowman, who was adopted as an infant by Bowman and his wife. For another, one of the amateur sleuths who took up the case to figure out what happened was Aundria's biological mother, Cathy Terkanian. In 2010—the first time she learned of her daughter's disappearance—she teamed up with Carl Koppelman, another amateur sleuth who had stumbled upon Aundria's case.
It didn't take long for the pair to zero in on Dennis Bowman as a suspect. Before Aundria disappeared, he already had a criminal record of sexual assault against young women. They also discovered that Aundria had told friends and even school officials that Dennis Bowman had been sexually assaulting her. Police were interested but said they never had enough evidence. The break in the case came, incredibly, when he was arrested and charged with the rape and murder of yet another woman, one who was killed nine years before Aundria disappeared. As it turns out, police had his DNA evidence on file because he had come into the station to complain that Terkanian was harassing him, and a detective kept his water bottle. In custody, he confessed to killing Aundria and burying her body under a concrete slab in their yard, though he maintains the death was accidental. Prosecutors don't believe that. (Read the full story.)