March 13, 2010

Maine man gets 50 years for 1979 killing of boy, 8

— From staff and news reports

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Staff photo by David Leaming ARRAIGNED: David Bruce Bowen is led in handcuffs from Farmington District Court on Wednesday following an initial appearance after he was arrested and charged with murder in the killing of an 8-year-old boy in Indiana 28 years ago. Bowen waived extridition and will be transported back to Indiana.

CROWN POINT, Ind. — A Maine man was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years in prison for the 1979 sexual torture and slaying of an 8-year-old Gary boy.

David Bowen, 44, of Portland, Maine, pleaded guilty in September to the murder of Kenneth ''Butch'' Conrick in exchange for a maximum 50-year prison term. He admitted forcing the boy to perform sex acts on him, then strangling the boy and repeatedly plunging a large stick into his chest.

Kenneth was reported missing on Oct. 15, 1979. His nude body was found 13 days later in a wooded area near his family's Gary home.

Authorities said he was bound to a tree, a cord tied around his neck.

DNA evidence that was unavailable 29 years ago helped Lake County police link Bowen to the boy's death. Bowen was arrested in December in Kingfield, Maine, where his Scarborough-based painting crew was working. Bowen was then extradited to Lake County.

Bowen told the court that something ''was wrong with me when I was 16.''

''Being a father now, I can't imagine someone doing something like that to my daughter,'' he said. ''I killed him, I'm sorry.''

Court records show Bowen, who was 16 at the time of the killing, became a suspect after police in Indiana learned he had been accused more than a year before of sexually assaulting and beating a 9-year-old boy who lived near Bowen's home.

The 9-year-old boy's mother agreed not to press charges against Bowen because Bowen underwent psychiatric treatment, police said.

In Maine in 1984, Bowen, then 20, and another young man were convicted of robbing $1,200 from a Biddeford pizza parlor. Bowen served four months in the York County Jail.

Bowen was convicted of misdemeanor theft in Westbrook in 1989 and of two assaults in Portland during the early 1990s.

His criminal record ends in 1992 after he apparently settled into his job as a painter.

In Portland's Park Avenue neighborhood, he was known as ''Dave the painter.''

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