Archive for Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Investigation of burned body at lake continues

May 17, 2006


The facts surrounding the death of a woman found burned in a car at Clinton Lake remain a mystery as investigators wait for a final autopsy report.

"We don't have the results back from the county coroner's office yet," Lt. Kari Wempe of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday. "When we do, I'm hoping that will give the detectives guidance as to the cause."

Carolyn Bower, 40, Olathe, was found dead April 30 inside a badly burned Mazda near Rock Creek boat ramp at Clinton Lake. A passerby had called police to report seeing a car on fire.

It took the sheriff's office much of the following week to identify the car and her body, and it's still not known whether the death was the result of suicide, foul play or an accident.

According to court records, Bower recently had been through a divorce and had accused her husband of failing to make required payments. She also was on probation for a prescription-fraud charge in Johnson County.

Amy Rogers, a friend who used to wait tables with Bower in Olathe, said she had no idea why Bower would be in the Lawrence area and was clueless about what may have led to the death.

"It all sounds very fishy to me," she said.

She said she had been friends with Bower for about a year and a half. The two used to shop, get their nails done, watch movies and attend sporting events for Bower's teenage children.

She said Bower had been under stress in recent months and that her condition had "spiraled downhill," but she would not elaborate.

Coroner Erik Mitchell is referring all questions about the case to the sheriff's office, which is not releasing details of what its investigation has found so far.


smiles 12 years, 1 month ago

Did Amy really have to use the word "fishy"??

Linda Endicott 12 years, 1 month ago

I'm curious as to why so many people seem to think it's a suicide. I've heard of many people who committed suicide while in their car, but this is the first one who somehow managed to burn herself up at the same time.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

The "downward spiral" comment says a lot. Maybe it was suicide or maybe her choices put her at risk. It's sad either way.

Ken Miller 12 years, 1 month ago

You don't drive to a lake in another county to commit suicide by burning yourself in your car. I am trying to figure out why the Douglas County Sheriff's Office is waiting so long to publicly say they are conducting a homicide investigation. There was enough going on in this poor woman's life to lend credence to the foul play angle.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

You can't call it murder just because of "logic". If there is no sign of foul play, such as a broken skull, or a bullet in her torso, then it cannot be labeled anything but an "unattended death". They have to be able to identify cause "as a result of...".

I personally think that these cases of missing persons on cruise ships are suicide. I think that people sometimes go to places that they "like" or have fond memories of when they want to make that decision. Maybe the lake was an old, good place for her, and she killed herself there for that reason.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 1 month ago

So she killed herself and then torched the car afterward? How exactly do you do that?

No matter how depressed you are, I don't think it's possible to set a car on fire and then just sit there until it kills you. I think instinct would kick in far before it was too late, and you'd change your mind.

Same reason that it's nearly impossible to drown yourself in the bathtub. Most people who want to drown themselves do so by jumping off a boat into a lake or the ocean.

I don't know if it's possible in this case to tell whether she was dead before the fire, or if there were any toxic fumes in her lungs. But it just sounds suspicious to me. Most cars don't burn all on their own, and most burned cars that contain bodies are usually torched to destroy evidence.

lovenhaight 12 years, 1 month ago

People are saying its a suicide because the family is saying it was a suicide. Generally people don't make final phone calls when its murder.

Ken Miller 12 years, 1 month ago

"final phone call?" where did that info come from? To my knowledge, that "fact" hasn't appeared in any media story. Again, if you are going to commit suicide, it seems your level of despondency would dictate the easiest possible path to getting the job done. Driving 30 miles and then setting your vehicle on fire just doesn't fit the path of least resistance.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

Sometimes suicide is about expressing one's pain. I knew of a guy who locked himself in the trunk of his mother's car, then shot himself. She opened the trunk to find him in there. It had shock value.

Maybe she killed herself in this way to obscure the fact that it was suicide. Maybe she thought that a suicide would weigh too heavily on her kids. Maybe she didn't realize that they'd be able to determine who's car it was and thought that she could go out as a missing person, an unsolved disappearance.

When a person kills themself, they aren't thinking in their right mind anyway. Don't expect this to be logical.

I was saying a few weeks ago that I thought it was murder. I still think that's a good guess, but if it was murder, I'd think that they would have found evidence of that on her body by now. I think the likelyhood of suicide is growing by each day.

Regardless, I hope they do reach a definite determination. Her family needs closure.

bugmenot 12 years, 1 month ago

Maybe she was freebasing in the car and the seat caught fire and she was too high to notice or react.

lovenhaight 12 years, 1 month ago

Once again, I am family of the deceased's daughter, so Oscar, you can chew on that little "fact" that hasn't been reported. As for bugmenot, you are an ignorant, insensitive jackass and you ought to keep your mouth shut and realize that the immediate family of this woman DOES read this. Jerk.

lovenhaight 12 years, 1 month ago

And another thing to consider. If you call your children and let on that you will be committing suicide, wouldn't you go somewhere where they wouldn't think of looking for you? If you were at the end of your rope, and you really intended to kill yourself but wanted to make sure that it wasn't your children who found you, driving to Clinton Lake from Olathe makes sense.

sd123 12 years, 1 month ago

"lovenhaight" are giving to much information. Even in the case of suicide, the authorities need to conduct a thorough investigation. Don't let the people on this forum make you spill your guts out. You could be giving incorrect information yourself.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 1 month ago

Generally, people will make any kind of phone call, if someone's holding a gun to their heads. Would you be able to tell the difference in someone's voice if they were upset by being forced to do something, or if they were just depressed? Probably not.

The police aren't releasing any more information yet, and they won't until they're done, and all the autopsy reports are back. That could take weeks or months.

I still say it would be damn near impossible to commit suicide in this way.

lovenhaight 12 years, 1 month ago

sd123 (and everyone else)-

You may very well be right, but it is hard to see people write these things and know for a fact that my stepsister in law reads everything that is said here.

We keep saying to keep in mind that the children might see this, but it isn't a "might" kind of thing. I guarantee that everything you say about this woman is being read by her immediate family and her closest friends.


Linda Endicott 12 years, 1 month ago

Why do you think it would be more upsetting for her family to think she was murdered instead of committing suicide??

lovenhaight 12 years, 1 month ago

Because people have come to terms with things as they are, and they need to heal. A lot of the "murder" theories that have been posted here involve Cami's ex-husband. Keep in mind that this man is the only parent these kids have left, so hearing that people think he may have been responsible isn't the most comforting thing they could hear.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 1 month ago

It might not be comforting to them, but I would think they'd rather know the truth, either way.

I personally had a friend who the police say committed suicide. But things just didn't add up, and they never will for me. I think he was murdered, and it infuriates me that someone is walking around out there who committed a crime and got away with it.

As for their father being a suspect, well, in most murder cases, relatives are always the first suspects. Doesn't mean they did it. But if they did, they should have to pay the price for it. Shoving it all under the rug doesn't make it any better.

Either way, the kids lost their mother, and that's tragic. But if someone had murdered my mother, I'd damn well want to know, and I'd want them to pay.

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