Minnesota doctor accused of fatally poisoning his wife with an arthritis drug

By Claire Wolters | Fact-checked by Stephanie Cornwell
Published October 27, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • A doctor is accused of fatally poisoning his wife.

  • Examiners say the death may have been a homicide, caused by a lethal overdose of a drug meant to treat an arthritis condition – which the victim did not have

A Minnesota doctor has been accused of fatally poisoning his wife. Medical examiners are calling the death a homicide, and evidence suggests that the doctor, Connor Bowman, may have given his wife, Betty Bowman, “a drug for an ailment she did not have,” police told NBC News. At her time of death, she was 32.[]

Mrs. Bowman died on August 20, four days after she was admitted to the hospital, with symptoms of diarrhea and dehydration. Once hospitalized, her symptoms progressed to include cardiac issues, fluid in the lungs, and organ failure, according to a criminal complaint, NBC News reported. Medical examiners determined that Mrs. Bowman’s death was suspicious and alerted the police of the situation rather than carry out Dr. Bowman’s request to cremate the body.[] 

In their investigation, police learned that Dr. Bowman was also a poison control specialist and in medical school. Another student told police that Dr. Bowman had been researching the drug colchicine, a drug that treats gout, despite not having received any calls about that medicine.

Toxicology tests from Mrs. Bowman’s hospital admission showed that colchicine had been present in her urine and blood. She did not have gout, nor did the doctors who treated her prescribe her that medicine, according to the complaint reported on by NBC News.[]

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are all side effects that can occur from colchicine. Further, taking too much of the drug can result in a colchicine overdose, which can induce the above symptoms as well as hypovolemic shock, multisystem organ failure, coma, convulsions, and sudden death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[]

Accounting for the evidence, medical examiners determined Mrs. Bowman’s death was a homicide caused by the toxic properties of colchicine.

Dr. Bowman was formerly a Mayo Clinic resident and remains listed as a licensed physician and surgeon with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice.

A Mayo Clinic representative wrote in an email to MDLinx that the organization is “aware of the recent arrest of a former Mayo Clinic resident on charges unrelated to his Mayo Clinic responsibilities,” adding that “the resident's training at Mayo Clinic ended earlier this month.” The representative said the organization would not comment more at this time.

A Minnesota Board of Medical Practice representative told MDLinx that the board investigates “each and every complaint we receive …on its merits, and makes a determination as to the disposition for that complaint,” but would not comment on the specific scenario.

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