ALLEGAN, Mich. — A West Michigan man has pleaded no contest to murdering his adoptive daughter more than 30 years ago.
Wednesday morning, Dennis Bowman pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the death of 14-year-old Aundria in Allegan County Circuit Court.
“We’re moving forward with a plea today… is that correct," asked Judge Margaret Bakker at the start of Bowman's hearing on Wednesday.
"Yes, your honor," he replied, looking much different than he did when initially charged in the case.
Dennis Lee Bowman has long denied any involvement in the disappearance of his adopted daughter, Aundria Bowmn, in 1989.
On Tuesday, he finally accepted legal responsibility for her death.
“Dennis Lee Bowman will be pleading no contest to murder in the 2nd degree, as an habitual offender 2nd offense notice. That is a felony level charge, and a life offense,” a prosecutor said in court.
The 14-year-old Aundria disappeared from her West Michigan home in March of 1989, shortly after she accused her adoptive father 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 a separate 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 the backyard of Bowman's property in Hamilton home. Officers found Aundria's remain 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 told FOX 17 Wednesday after Bowman's hearing, "I'm sad, but relieved he finally told the truth... It's been a very long, difficult journey, but I did it all because I love Alexis."
Alexis is the name Terkanian gave the child when she was born. Terkanian says she plans to attend Dennis Bowman's sentencing in February 2022, and plans to try and get custody of the girl's remains so they can get a proper burial.
Allegan County Sheriff Frank Baker told FOX 17 on Wednesday, "This was truly an example of law enforcement working together on a difficult case. Allegan County Sheriff’s Office detectives have worked this case for many years; as well as, the cold case teams that were periodically assembled. This would not have been possible without the help of Detectives from the Michigan State Police and other various law enforcement agencies that have provided assistance."
"The hard work of the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office and everyone everyone in law enforcement who have had a hand in this investigation will hopefully bring a sense of justice for Aundria."
A no contest plea means the person accepts the punishment for a crime but does not admit guilt.
Bowman is scheduled to be sentenced on February 7, 2022.
The 72-year-old is already serving a life sentence in connection with the Virginia case.