Woman, 20, inhaled chloroform: Was it an accident or homicide? Man, 50, held in county jail

September 28, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

State medical examiners say a 20-year-old Baltimore woman whose body was found three weeks ago in the home of an Ellicott City financial consultant died after inhaling chloroform.

But Dr. James Locke, an assistant medical examiner, said that the Sept. 20 autopsy could not determine whether the Sept. 6 death of Geneva Marie Hodge was a homicide or was accidental.

Melvin Robert Bowers, 50, of the 2800 block of Southview Road has been charged with manslaughter. Mr. Bowers, a divorced father of four who police said had a relationship with Ms. Hodge for about 18 months, is being held at the county Detention Center on $100,000 bond.

Deputy State's Attorney Dwight Thompson said that his office will review the autopsy to determine whether to bring Mr. Bowers before the county grand jury.

Mr. Thompson said the only information on the circumstances of Ms. Hodge's death comes from Mr. Bowers.

"It's a tough case," Mr. Thompson said. "Unless I see more proof, I don't see that I can do anything." The grand jury meets Oct. 7, but Mr. Thompson said he isn't sure he will present the case. An indictment would shift the case from District Court to Circuit Court for a jury trial.

Prosecutors agreed to provide Mr. Bowers' attorney, Deputy Public Defender Louis Willemin, a transcript of testimony from witnesses presented to the grand jury during a Circuit Court hearing yesterday.

Mr. Thompson said that he would not expect to bring any witnesses on the Bowers case before the grand jury, which meets in private without defendants or their attorneys.

Mr. Bowers called authorities about 3:50 p.m. Sept. 6, reporting that Ms. Hodge had stopped breathing and that his efforts to resuscitate her had failed, police said. Investigators estimated that Ms. Hodge had been dead for as long as 12 hours before the emergency call.

Police said that the accountant told them that he had last seen Ms. Hodge conscious the night before when he applied chloroform over her nose and mouth because she had a toothache.

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