2 plead guilty in rape and killing

15-year-old to go on trial in death of girl, 16, in her grand­mother’s home

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Justin Fen­ton jfen­ton@balt­sun.com

Two men pleaded guilty Wed­nes­day in the rape and killing of a 16-year-old girl in North­west Bal­ti­more, while a third ju­ve­nile de­fen­dant charged as an adult was headed for trial.

The guilty pleas of John Childs, 22, and Adonay Dixon, 25, shed new light on the at­tack on City Col­lege stu­dent Ar­ne­sha Bow­ers.

Prose­cu­tors said the crime be­gan as a plot to bur­glar­ize Bow­ers’ grand­mother’s home. But when she dis­cov­ered the men steal­ing items, they said, she was struck mul­ti­ple times in the head with a meat ten­der­izer, sex­u­ally as­saulted and stran­gled.

To cover up the crime, they said, her body and the home were set on fire.

“I’ve been a prose­cu­tor for 33 years, and it doesn’t get any worse,” As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Sharon Hol­back told Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill. “It’s one of the two worst cases I’ve ever worked on.”

Childs, who through his plea ad­mit­ted strik­ing Bow­ers in the head and rap­ing and killing her, was sen­tenced to life in prison.

Dixon’s plea called for him to re­ceive a sen­tence of life in prison, with all but 50 years sus­pended. Dixon ad­mit­ted to di­rect­ing much of the crime.

A third de­fen­dant, 15-year-old Rae­shawn Rivers, has pleaded not guilty to mur­der, rape, ar­son and gang of­fenses. Pre­lim­i­nary mo­tions in his trial were to be­gin to­day, with open­ing state­ments ex­pected next week.

Childs went to po­lice the day af­ter the crime and tried to pin the killing solely on Dixon. He told de­tec­tives that Dixon had called him that night and ad­mit­ted killing Bow­ers.

But Hol­back said Wed­nes­day that Rivers’ fam­ily had at­tacked Childs and threat­ened him at gun­point to pin the crime on Dixon to “pro­tect” Rivers.

Au­thor­i­ties have said that Bow­ers’ killing was a gang ini­ti­a­tion, but Hol­back made no such claim dur­ing the guilty pleas. She main­tained that Rivers’ fam­ily was in­volved in gang ac­tiv­ity.

Bow­ers had been dat­ing Rivers, Hol­back said. On June 7, 2015, she went to a party at an apart­ment in the 4900 block of Har­ford Road, where Rivers lived with Childs.

Bow­ers’ grand­mother picked her up from the party be­fore11p.m. and took her home. She then left to work an overnight job

At the party, au­thor­i­ties said, Dixon and the others de­vised a plan to bur­glar­ize Bow­ers’ grand­mother’s home, us­ing Rivers to lure her up­stairs while they grabbed be­long­ings.

Bow­ers let the three into the home, Hol­back said, of­fered them food and talked with them un­til she went with Rivers for what Hol­back de­scribed as a ro­man­tic en­counter.

As Dixon and Childs were steal­ing items, Bow­ers came down­stairs and found them. Dixon grabbed a meat ten­der­izer from the kitchen and handed it to Childs, who struck her mul­ti­ple times in the head, Hol­back said.

“Af­ter the first strike, the vic­tim cried and promised she would not tell on him,” Hol­back said. But he struck her twice more, and the men be­lieved Bow­ers was dead.

She was not, and Childs took her into the base­ment as Dixon and Rivers went through the be­long­ings in the home, au­thor­i­ties said, fill­ing a black bag with food and items such as an iPad.

Hol­back said DNA from Childs and Rivers was found on Bow­ers’ body. She had been raped and stran­gled with a cord from a wa­ter heater, Hol­back said.

Dixon set fire to the up­stairs of the home, while Childs set fire to Bow­ers’ body.

“I don’t think I’ll ever for­get those pic­tures,” Hol­back told Fletcher-Hill.

Af­ter try­ing to pin the crime on Dixon, Childs re­turned to po­lice head­quar­ters the next day and con­fessed to his in­volve­ment. His at­tor­ney, pub­lic de­fender Sean Cole­man, said Childs has wanted to plead guilty since his ar­rest and can­not say Bow­ers’ name out loud. Childs sees her in his sleep and has been mon­i­tored for sui­cide, Cole­man said.

Bow­ers’ grand­mother, San­dra Bow­ers, said she “lost a beau­ti­ful grand­daugh­ter.”

Bow­ers had been ap­ply­ing to col­leges. Af­ter her death, her grand­mother told Fletcher-Hill, emails con­tin­ued to roll in.

“It ripped my heart to be re­minded she’ll never have the op­por­tu­nity to grow into the won­der­ful young lady I knew she would be,” San­dra Bow­ers said.

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