Gregory Bowman sentenced to death for Velda Rumfelt murder

7:09 PM, Dec 11, 2009   |    comments
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Video: Gregory Bowman sentenced to death for 1977 murder

  • Gregory Bowman
  • Gregory Bowman

KSDK -- A man convicted of murdering a 16-year-old in 1977 was sentenced to death Friday in Clayton.  As expected, St. Louis County Court Judge David Vincent III upheld the jury's recommendation in Gregory Bowman's trial for the murder of Velda Rumfelt.

The investigation was cold for decades until investigators said they found Bowman's DNA on the victim's underwear in 2007. Rumfelt was last seen alive in Clayton. She was found strangled in a field in a rural area near Eureka.

A jury convicted Bowman in October.

"Obviously the evidence shows that you preyed on young females, and for whatever excitement, or whatever reason you can think about that for the rest of your life until execution," Judge David Vincent III said.

Velda's nephew, Casey, who pilots Apache helicopters for the U.S. Army in Iraq, delivered a victim's impact statement.

"I remember when I was like ten-years-old, riding home from a basketball game with my Dad," said Captain Casey Rumfelt.  "I looked up and asked, 'Dad, do you think we'll ever know what happened to Velda?'  He just turned around and said, 'I don't know.  Probably not.  Whoever it was will get what they deserve in this life or the next.'"

Bowman's attorney, Steve Evans, said in February he filed a motion to suppress DNA evidence in the case.  Evans said his contention is based on an Illinois law that prohibits anyone's DNA from being released to an outside party unless they've been convicted of a crime.  While Bowman had been convicted in the murders of Elizabeth West and Ruth Ann Jany, those convictions were later overturned.

"Mr. Bowman's DNA was obtained as part of the investigation of the two Illinois cases, but he was not convicted of those, and we do not believe that DNA should have ever been released to St. Louis County officials," Evans said.

Bowman spent 29 years in prison for the murder of West and Jany.  He still faces a retrial for those murders.

Evans also said evidence in the case does not add up.

"Regarding the autopsy photos of Rumfelt and the photos of her clothing that were taken from her body following her autopsy... the underwear in those photos does not appear to be the same underwear that the DNA was removed from," said Evans.

After the sentencing, Velda's brother, Dewey Rumfelt was asked for his reaction.

"I wanted to let the media know that since the trial, Teresa and I started a Facebook page so we can share with others some of the stories that have transpired," Dewey said.

Dewey's wife, Teresa, said the trial process was enlightening.

"There were questions answered for us," said Teresa Dewey.  "There's a lot of things we didn't know.  We didn't know she was just a half a block from home.  We didn't know that a couple girls had seen her."


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