Four years ago, Monica Renee Bowie, 34, an energetic, outgoing, free spirit, was kidnapped in broad daylight in front of witnesses, never to be seen again.
“There’s no way on God’s green earth you can totally disappear,” said Linda Howard, Bowie’s mother. “People were standing there when she was taken. Nobody knows anything.”
Bowie grew up in Pittsburgh living with her mother, stepfather James and four siblings. After graduating high school, Bowie attended Cheney University in Pennsylvania, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class with an accounting degree
“She was a very smart girl,” Howard said. “She was very active in everything. You name it, she did it.”
Bowie moved to Delaware to accept an accounting job with Mitsubishi. From there, she moved to Atlanta in 1997. For about six weeks, Bowie worked as an exotic dancer at Blue Flame Lounge, an adult club in Atlanta.
“She had to make ends meet,” Howard said.
Bowie was an entrepreneur. She owned Go2girl Promotions Inc., a company that promoted hip-hop acts in Atlanta, and LaCoca Wear Clothing, a boutique in southwest Atlanta.
While in Atlanta, Bowie remained very close to her family.
“She came home to visit all the time,” Howard said. “There was not a holiday she missed.”
Bowie also made a lot of friends who still keep in touch with Howard.
“They call me on her birthday. They call me on Mother’s Day. They call me on my birthday. They still call me,” Howard said.
Monica loved life
One such friend is D. L. Sparks, Bowie’s best friend in high school. Bowie moved to Atlanta to join her friend. They were roommates for a couple of years in Atlanta, until Sparks got engaged.
“We had a ball all the time,” Sparks said. “Monica didn’t want anybody not laughing in her presence.”
“She loved life,” said Sparks, an author who has dedicated a book to Bowie. “I can remember her life. I remember her driving me crazy sucking her thumb. I would say, ‘Stop, you’re grown now.’
“She knew me better than anybody. Whenever she was around, everything was going to be OK.”
Bowie’s only brush with the law came two weeks before she disappeared. Her fiancé, Shernotta Walters, borrowed Bowie’s car and was arrested after police found marijuana and a gun in the car during a traffic stop. When Bowie arrived at the scene to retrieve her vehicle, she too was arrested.
Bowie claimed she knew nothing about the drugs and gun, and the charges against the pair were eventually dismissed. Because Walters was on parole at time, he was taken to jail, where he remained on the day Bowie disappeared.
Bowie and Walters planned to get married in 2008.
Screams for help
Bowie was last seen at approximately 11:14 p.m. on July 5, 2007. She had apparently had an evening out. Five witnesses at her apartment complex, Berkshire at Lenox Park, located on Gables Drive near Lenox Mall, heard screams for help coming from the parking deck.
The witnesses told police they saw Bowie leaving the scene in a burgundy 2002 Mercury Sable with two men. The driver of the car was a heavyset Black male with fair skin, a beard and low haircut. The other man was described as a small, dark-skinned Black male. Witnesses recorded the license plate number and called 911.
Police said there was a sign of struggle where the car had been parked. On the ground at the scene, police found a woman’s green jacket, eyeglasses, earring, a gold necklace with a cross pendant, a broken bottle of perfume, a manila folder containing miscellaneous paperwork, a white food container with chicken wings, and two broken fingernails.
When the car was found later, it was abandoned and burned.
Two days after Bowie’s disappearance, Jasper Keels, 24, of Decatur, was arrested for stealing the car from an acquaintance, and for possession of drugs. He denied any involvement in Bowie’s disappearance.
After the kidnapping, DeKalb Police arrested 27-year-old Lonnie Bennett of Atlanta. Bennett was seen “coming out of or near” Bowie’s apartment after the alleged kidnapping. When his car was stopped leaving the parking deck of Bowie’s apartment complex, police found a paper bag containing a large amount of cash.
Bennett, who has a criminal record in Fulton County containing various narcotics charges, theft and sexual battery charges, was not charged in the kidnapping case.
A missing person flyer release after the kidnapping said the five-foot-four, 135-pound Bowie, who was 34 at the time, was last seen wearing a dark green dress shirt and blue denim pants. She had braces on her teeth.
Bowie has not been seen or heard from since.
New leads needed
In her search for answers, Howard has solicited the help of Jean and Suzanne Vincent, two sisters who are psychic criminal investigators.
“She was somebody’s daughter and she deserves to be brought home,” Suzanne Vincent said. “Somebody knows where she is.”
After profiling the crime, the Vincents believe Bowie’s body is within a three-mile radius of where the burned vehicle was found and is “encased in something.”
The Vincents, who have not visited the site where the kidnapping occurred, hope to come to Atlanta sometime this summer to search for leads. “We are still diligently hoping that a new lead will turn up,” said attorney Gerald Griggs who represented Bowie on her criminal charges which were dropped before she disappeared.
“She was a wonderful, open person in love with life. When she came into a room, the whole room lit up,” Griggs said. “I just wish at some point we could give some closure to her family.”
Bowie’s case is officially classified as “open, but suspended,” said Mekka Parish, public information officer for DeKalb County Police. The case will remain suspended until “new, viable information” comes forward.
The department has “worked all the leads from the past,” Parish said.
Sparks said the trouble that caused Bowie’s disappearance came from whoever she was hanging around.
“At some point it’s apparent that she crossed paths with the wrong crowd,” Sparks said. “The trouble was brought to her. She was not a mean or spiteful person.”
Bowie’s family and friends still miss her a lot. Her mother still sets a place for Bowie at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
Balloons and cake were on hand on March 30 as approximately 50 people gathered at Howard’s Pittsburgh home to remember Bowie’s birthday. Howard still has the unopened birthday cards.
“It’s still fresh for a lot of people,” Sparks said. “Every year, it doesn’t get easier.”