- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Calvert County, Md., police discovered two dead girls in a basement freezer, bringing renewed scrutiny to the District’s child welfare system that put the children up for adoption in 2001 and 2004.

Sheriff’s deputies found the bodies, thought to be the adopted daughters of Renee Bowman, 43, in the family’s Lusby home on Saturday while investigating a report that another daughter had been abused.

Investigators said Miss Bowman told them the bodies of the girls, 9 and 11, had been in a freezer for seven months.

“We have reason to believe that is the two children in the freezer,” said Lt. Bobby Jones of the sheriff’s office. “We believe that the mother who adopted the two children is responsible for it.”

The gruesome discovery was made roughly eight months after four girls were found dead in a Southeast row house.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, said the District no longer had jurisdiction over children after adoptions are approved by the court.

He and acting Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said a preliminary review of Miss Bowman’s file shows that she went through all of the training and licensing required by the District for adoption.

A judge Monday ordered Miss Bowman held without bail. She is charged with first-degree child abuse in the beating of the runaway 7-year-old. Miss Bowman admitted beating her with a “hard-heeled shoe,” officials said.

Miss Bowman told detectives that she brought the remains in the freezer with her to Lusby when she moved from Rockville in February. Montgomery County police are investigating whether the deaths took place in Rockville. Miss Bowman has not been charged in the older girls’ deaths.

Mr. Nickles said Miss Bowman adopted one girl in 2001, then adopted two sisters unrelated to the first child in 2004. He said that the requisite FBI background checks and home visits were done, and that Miss Bowman received a stipend of roughly $2,400 a month for the three children as part of federal law.

Roque R. Gerald, the interim director of D.C. Child and Family Services Agency, said the stipend does not entitle the agency to check in on the children after the adoption.

Mr. Fenty fired six agency workers and vowed to reform the department after U.S. marshals found the decomposed bodies of the four girls inside the Southeast row house of their mother Banita Jacks.

He cited an audio tape of a charter school social worker calling the agency to say she was concerned about the children, after one failed to attend school for at least 30 days and after glimpsing them inside their home. Miss Jacks has pleaded not guilty in the case.

A federal judge recently gave the agency until roughly the end of the month to submit a plan to fix its problems or else be held in contempt of court.

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