HEPPNER – Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson said that when David Bowles, 43, of Heppner died in his cell at the Umatilla County Jail, the circumstances surrounding the December death of his wife, Marlen Bowles, that he would eventually tell the court died with him.
“Mr. Bowles had a story to tell and we’ll never get to hear that part of it,” Nelson said. “That’s one of the concerning things that come from the way this case is ending.”
Bowles turned himself in at the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office and was taken into custody last Thursday. On Friday he was appointed counsel. Nelson said the suspect, charged with first-degree manslaughter, elected not to answer questions from law enforcement, as was his right. On Saturday morning he was found dead in his cell.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the cause of death to be undetermined and a toxicology report won’t be complete for 14 to 16 months. The coroner did rule there was no sign of foul play.
While what Bowles had to say will never be known, Nelson believes that pieces of it can be told by others.
“I know there are people who have more information,” he said. “They might have been concerned. Maybe they were in fear that there might be retaliation. Hopefully, maybe some of that fear has gone away and they might feel more comfortable to report to law enforcement.”
Nelson said anyone with information is urged to contact either the Oregon State Police or the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office.