Sometime in the late 1950s or early ‘60s, investigators theorize, a Brown County couple had a boy and two girls who died in infancy from blood disorders.
Texas Ranger Nick Hanna said forensic evidence suggests that scenario in the deaths of three infants whose remains were found in a home near Bangs on Oct. 23, 2003.
Nearly four years after homeowners found the infants’ remains in a second-story crawl space while remodeling the home, Hanna isn’t ready to call the case closed.
“It doesn’t appear that it’s on track for any prosecution,” Hanna said. “I think it’s likely that these children succumbed to health issues.
“ … I want to do more interviews and research and I’m just not comfortable closing it yet.”
Autopsies could not establish the cause of the deaths, but there were no signs of trauma. He said it appears the infants lived four to seven weeks.
Hanna explained the evidence suggesting that all three infants were the children of James and Doris Bowling, who died in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Their bodies were cremated.
DNA analysis done at the University of North Texas shows that two of the infants “came back to the Bowling family,” Hanna said.
The lab could not get enough of a sample from the third infant’s remains for analysis. “We have two confirmed DNA links and we feel like all three are,” Hanna said.
There was a history of “Rh factor” with the Bowlings.
In a June 2004 interview, Dr. Harrell Gill-King, a forensic anthropologist at the University of North Texas, discussed the possibility of RH incompatibility as a factor in the deaths.
According to information in a medical dictionary, Rh incompatibility occurs when there is a difference in Rh blood type between the mother and the fetus. The mother’s immune system treats fetal red blood cells as a foreign substance and makes antibodies against them. The process can cause illnesses in the infant after birth that range from mild to fatal.
“If an individual does not have access to good clinical care … , sometimes children born in those conditions fail to thrive,” Gill-King said in the 2004 interview. “So we have one possible scenario for explaining how a couple of pregnancies fairly well spaced might have resulted in these offspring failing to thrive.”
Investigators found a wedding card from 1959 with the infants’ remains.
Investigators have speculated that the grieving parents may have wrapped the infants in cloth, placed them and some treasured mementos in a trash bag and hidden the bag in the house.
In the 2004 interview, Gill-King said several items had been wrapped with the infants including a bootie, the wedding card and a bed sheet decorated with a freckle-faced, old-style “Dennis the Menace” comic book character.
Gill-King said in the 2004 interview that the case “has all the trappings of a very bittersweet Gothic novel.”
Two of the Bowling couple’s adult daughters have passed polygraph tests saying they hadn’t known anything about the infants or had anything to do with their deaths.
Hanna has said he has been unable to locate the couple’s adult son.
The babies’ bodies were found at a house on County Road 153, about five miles southeast of Bangs. The homeowners came across the large trash bag containing the remains while they were remodeling the house.
The people who found the bodies had owned the house for about three years.
The Bowlings were the only previous owners of the home, which was built in 1987, according to records.
Gill-King has said his analysis revealed that the infants were born alive and lived a few weeks. The male, whose remains were mummified, was slightly older than the other two, who may have been twins, Gill-King has said.