Details revealed about 1980 VA murder suspect’s past

Posted at 5:06 PM, Nov 27, 2019

GRAND HAVEN, Mich — The West Michigan man recently arrested for a 1980 murder in Norfolk, Virginia has a troubling criminal past.

Dennis Bowman, 70, was arrested near his home in Hamilton last Friday. Police from Norfolk recently connected him to the 1980 murder of then-25-year-old Kathleen Doyle using forensic evidence. They have not yet elaborated on what sort of evidence they have against Bowman in the case.

Photos of Kathleen Doyle (left) and Dennis Bowman.

Bowman does have two previous criminal convictions on his record, one of which was a violent attempted rape on a young woman here in West Michigan. The attack on the girl here seemingly intertwines with the timeline of Kathleen Doyle's murder across the country in Virginia.

On May 23, 1980 Bowman was arrested after a young woman said he tried running her bicycle off Lakeshore Drive.

Allegedly, he started trying to get her into a nearby wooded area, saying, "Pull over, get off your bike and start heading into the woods." The girl says she panicked, trying to think of a way to escape. Bowman continued, telling her to obey his commands or he would "blow a hole right through" her.

The victim says Bowman then brandished a handgun and fired a shot at the ground near her right foot. She was only able to escape when she ran into the middle of the road and flagged down an approaching pickup truck.

Bowman was initially charged with assault with intent to murder in the Ottawa County case, but eventually plead guilty to a count of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct in a deal worked out with prosecutors.

Bowman admitted in court, "I told her to go into the woods, which was next to the road, with the intent of having forced sexual relations with her."

The case ended up stretching out over almost two years. One hearing in the case happened in a Grand Haven courtroom on Sept. 16, 1980, just five days after the murder of Kathleen Doyle.

Bowman was not in court, just his attorney. His attorney saying in his absence, "My client is not here. He is a member of the U.S. Army and is away on his two-week summer camp requirement."

Investigators say that Bowman was, of course, in Norfolk at the time.

In a tragic dance with fate, during the hearing in Ottawa County that happened just days after Doyle was killed all the way out in Virginia, Bowman's victim recalled her attack, saying, "I was just concerned that the person that had tried to assault me be stopped so that no one else could be harmed."

A sentence of five to 10 years in prison was eventually handed down in the case. He appealed the decision, which a judge denied.

Saying in part, "the psychologist indicates that he presents the clinical picture of a rapist; and we conclude that he is a danger to women if he is not confined."

Bowman is still sitting in a Michigan jail cell. He is expected to soon be extradited to face charges in Virginia in the murder of Doyle.