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‘Hardworking and smart’: Friends remember Wichita native who was fatally poisoned

Betty Jo Bowman loved to travel and spoil her Corgi named Crumpet. She was an adept pharmacist.

The 32-year-old Wichita native, who graduated in 2009 from Bishop Carroll High School, died Aug. 20 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She worked as a pharmacist at the renowned hospital.

Bowman’s husband, 30-year-old Connor Fitzgerald Bowman, who was doing residency in internal medicine at the hospital, was charged Monday with murder in her death. He is accused of poisoning her, court records show.

Jason Herold is a pharmacist at the Mayo Clinic. He trained Betty Bowman when she arrived in 2021.

“What I really remember about her is right away she was so sharp and very reliable and hardworking and smart,” he said. “Like I told my supervisor the next day, we hit a home run with that one. She was like a very, very good pharmacist. She was also a really nice person. Everybody liked being around her … you were happy to see her.”

She moved on to work as a pharmacist in the operating room, he said, but would still occasionally take shifts where he works alongside roughly 100 people.

“I’m certain that not a single person didn’t like her,” he said. “It’s like really hard for me to imagine how anybody could not like her. There was nothing to not like.”

Herold said he was originally told she died of a sudden illness, but it didn’t make sense for someone who was healthy.

“To be honest, this makes a lot more sense then she got sick and died suddenly,” he said on learning her husband had been arrested in her death.

Connor Bowman remained jailed Tuesday afternoon. He was arrested Friday during a traffic stop. An attorney for Bowman did not immediately respond to a call.

Betty Bowman ‘lit up every room she was in’

Family sent a statement about Betty Bowman through a friend of hers.

“Betty’s love was boundless, and it extended far beyond the confines of family and friends,” the statement said. “Her warm smile, kind words, and caring actions left an indelible mark on our hearts. Betty had a passion for life that was infectious. She lived life to the fullest, embracing each day with enthusiasm and joy. One of Betty’s greatest strengths was her unwavering love, forgiveness and support for those she cared about.”

Coworkers and friends wrote about the impact Betty Bowman had on them on a funeral home’s online condolence page and on Facebook.

“Betty (Bowman) was the best friend anyone could ask for, thoughtful, smart, witty, and so much fun to be around,” high school friend Mary Bartlett said on Facebook. “She lit up every room she was in with her smile and sense of humor.”

On the condolence page, another person wrote: “You always showed me kindness on such a personal level even when things were complicated. You personalized our chat with lime green and dolphins because you knew they were my favorite. We bonded over Stitch and Land Before Time … I always felt confident in myself, flaws and all whenever we hung out together.”

The person added: “You were also one of my biggest supporters when I initially fell sick. Your validation and kind heart meant SO much to me as I struggled mentally to be at peace with my chronic illness. You let me stay with you and Connor while I sought answers at Mayo.”

Betty Bowman’s obituary says she loved to travel and liked to spoil her Corgi with “unique doggy treats, toys, and outings to local parks.”

“She often spent her free time visiting local coffee shops, eating delicious cheeses, and spending quality time with her good friends,” her obituary says. “Her authentic spirit lives on in the hearts of friends and family.”

The obituary says she died of “sudden onset autoimmune and infectious illness” and that “she is survived by her fur-baby Sir Crumpet II of Mulberry (corgi), her husband Connor, and so many special friends and loved ones.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help her family with legal costs, memorial costs, meals, bills and “anything else that can help make things just a little easier while they grieve.”

“Betty adored her mom and I know she would want her and her family to be taken care of during this difficult time,” the fundraiser says.

The fundraiser can be found at rb.gy/h7dej.

Another fundraiser set up in honor of Bowman has more than quadrupled its $1,000 goal.

That fundraiser was set up for the Trevor Project, a nonprofit aimed at reducing suicides in the LGBTQ community. That fundraiser has a picture of Crumpet sitting on an inflatable with a rainbow on it while sitting in the water.

One of the donations was anonymous but says from your “entire Pharmacy Family Nationwide.”

People wore rainbow attire at Bowman’s celebration of life. Herold said she was an advocate for LGBTQ rights.

On the last day of them working together, a former coworker said in the condolences, Bowman “came in later than usual because there was a beautiful rainbow and sunrise to observe.”

“She was one of the few people to openly share her love for her practice, as well as her love for life,” the person wrote.

Bowman got her doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Kansas in 2017 before taking jobs at Stormont Vail Health, Ascension Via Christi and then the Mayo Clinic, according to LinkedIn and her obituary.

“We are aware of the recent arrest of a former Mayo Clinic resident on charges unrelated to his Mayo Clinic responsibilities,” the Mayo Clinic said in a statement. “The resident’s training at Mayo Clinic ended earlier this month.”

The Mayo Clinic would not respond to specific questions.

Poison specialist at KU

The Bowmans got married less than two and a half years ago.

A Facebook post on his page says Connor Bowman got the residency at the Mayo Clinic through the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita.

Here are what court documents say about his arrest after his wife’s death:

In addition to his residency, Bowman had been working as a poison specialist through the University of Kansas.

As a poison specialist, he had “devices from the University of Kansas to do his work” and would answer calls regarding poisons. He worked in that role for a few days at the beginning of August, before his wife’s death.

After her death, KU contacted the police department about some of the searches Bowman did.

He had been looking up sodium nitrate, which limits oxygen being transported throughout the body. He also looked up colchicine, which is used to treat gout, and had multiplied his wife’s weight by 0.8.

“0.8 mg/kg is considered the lethal dosage rate for colchicine,” court records say. “Bowman had not received any calls regarding colchicine, no other employee received calls regarding colchicine either.”

Betty Bowman wasn’t prescribed the drug but had an “elevated level of colchicine” in her blood when she got to the hospital. She was killed by the “toxic effects of colchicine,” court records show, indicating the death was a homicide.

Additionally, before his wife’s death, Bowman had searched other things as well, including a medical journal used to search the lethality of substances, and the terms: “food v. industrial grade sodium nitrate” and “internet browsing history: can it be used in court?” and “Police track package delivery” and “delete amazon data police”, according to court records.

Other details from court records

One person told police that they texted Betty Bowman on Aug. 15. She reported drinking at home with her husband.

The next morning, she texted back that she was sick and “thought it was a drink she had received that caused her illness because it was mixed in a large smoothie.”

Betty Bowman was admitted to the hospital on Aug. 16 with “severe gastrointestinal distress and dehydration.” Based on the symptoms, she was treated for food poisoning but her condition continued to decline until her Aug. 20 death.

Bowman gave her husband permission to look through her medical file, but that permission expired at her death, court records say. Still, he continued to look at the records and even created a document but didn’t enter any information.

“Because Bowman created a documentation, he was identified as part of Victim’s care team which allowed him to enter the medical record without entering his credentials,” the record says.

Bowman told people his wife was suffering from a rare illness called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, which damages a person’s organs. Tests for the illness were inconclusive, but Bowman mentioned an autoimmune disease as the cause of death in her obituary, according to court records.

The Southeast Minnesota Medical Examiner’s Office contacted the Rochester Police Department after learning that her death was suspicious.

Bowman tried to order that she be cremated immediately and tried to cancel an autopsy, according to court records. He also asked a death investigator about the thoroughness of a toxicology.

One witness told the examiner’s office that they were having “marital issues and were talking about a divorce following infidelity and a deteriorating relationship.” Another person told a detective that Bowman had debt and that Bowman told them that he would get $500,000 if his wife died.

Officers searching Bowman’s home found a receipt for a $450,000 bank deposit.

He has been charged with second-degree murder.