ALLEGAN, Mich. — A man who pleaded no contest to killing his adoptive daughter more than 30 years ago will spend decades behind bars.
Monday morning, Judge Margaret Bakker in Allegan County sentenced Dennis Bowman to 35 to 50 years in prison for second-degree murder in the death of 14-year-old Aundria.
“At 14-years-old, she had the courage to disclose that her adopted father, Dennis Bowman, had been sexually abusing her,” Prosecutor Myrene Kay Koch said in court.
“When faced with extradition to Virginia for another matter, he finally confessed that Aundria was indeed buried in his own backyard. He further confessed that he tried to dismember her body with a machete, but that that didn't work, so he switched to an ax, and then put her into a barrel.”
Bowman is already serving 2 life sentences in Virginia for the 1980 rape and murder of Kathleen Doyle.
“His numerous assaults, his behavior in this case, his other convictions, clearly indicate that Mr. Bowman is a serious, dangerous man that has harmed many communities, many families,” Judge Bakker said before sentencing Bowman.
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Fourteen-year-old Aundria disappeared from her West Michigan home in March of 1989, shortly after she accused her adoptive father (Bowman) of sexually assaulting her.
For years Bowman was suspected to be involved in whatever happened to her, but it wasn't until 2019 when he was charged with Doyle's murder in Virginia that the investigation into his daughter broke open.
Police searched his Allegan County property in February 2020 after receiving a tip that a body was buried under a concrete slab in the backyard of Bowman's Hamilton home. Officers found Aundria's remains while executing a search warrant.
Investigators were able to positively identify the girl's remains using DNA testing, comparing the remains to a sample from Aundria's biological mother, Cathy Terkanian.
Terkanian was in court for Bowman's sentencing Monday. She has been instrumental in keeping her daughter's case alive with investigators and the media.
“I spent 10 years trying to get this monster, and to see that happen without ever seeing his face or hearing his voice... It's amazing to me,” she told FOX 17 Monday after the hearing.
“Maybe I'm just all the women he ever raped, all the women he ever killed right here. Maybe I'm my little daughter that hovered over all of it, watched it all, heard him confess about it… maybe I'm his worst nightmare.”
Terkanian is now working to get all of her daughter's remains back from Bowman's wife, Brenda.
"I saw the fire and I walked right in it," she said.
"And I won't be out of it until I get all the way through it, and I'm not all the way through it yet... I want her body back."