NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In September 1980, Kathleen O’Brien Doyle was brutally murdered and sexually assaulted inside her Norfolk home on Granby Street. She was 25 years old and had just married the love of her life, a Navy pilot, who was deployed on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower at the time of the crime.
On Sept. 9, any future she had with her husband was stripped away, when an intruder broke into her house, stabbed her, raped her and left her for dead. She was killed sometime between 7:30 p.m. and midnight, but wasn’t discovered until Sept. 11 around noon.
Her case went cold until 2018 when the Norfolk Cold Case unit and Detective Jonathan Smith learned about a new method being used to solve cold cases: genetic genealogy.
The department decided to give genetic genealogy a try since there was a DNA profile on the bedsheet from Kathleen’s house. The genealogy company sent Smith a list of 32 names about a year later, one of them being Dennis Lee Bowman.
After investigating Bowman, Smith quickly learned this could be Kathleen’s killer because he had prior violent offenses in his home state of Michigan. Smith had begun searching Bowman’s name on the internet and was alarmed at the results. In May 1980, Bowman had been the suspect in an attempted murder and sexual assault in Michigan, just months before Kathleen’s murder. Smith also learned that Bowman’s adopted daughter, Aundria, had disappeared in 1989 under mysterious circumstances.
Shortly after uncovering these red flags about Bowman, Smith attended a cold case conference with other departments from across the country. Smith quickly found a detective sergeant from the Michigan State Police and inquired about Bowman.
“And he’s like, ‘I’ll tell you, Jon, I know Dennis, and I know his family. He’s probably your guy,” Smith said.
Smith collaborated with a local police department in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a court transcript from September 1980 revealed that Bowman was in Norfolk on his two-week military drill during the time of Kathleen’s murder.
Bowman’s DNA matched with the samples collected from the rape kit and the bedspread at the crime scene.
He was arrested in November 2019. While in custody, Bowman confessed to not only killing Kathleen, but also murdering his adopted daughter Aundria Bowman.
In a jail call recording, Bowman tells his wife that he buried their adopted daughter, Aundria, in their backyard.
Bowman is now serving life at Sussex I State Prison.