Originally created 05/16/02

Boyfriend arrested in shooting



AIKEN - Denise Simpkins clung to life for about 20 hours Wednesday before succumbing to a gunshot. Police say they will charge her 81-year-old boyfriend with murder.

Officers arrested John Bowman early Wednesday morning in the 500 block of Hampton Avenue. He is accused of shooting Ms. Simpkins in the head with a .38-caliber handgun, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

Ms. Simpkins, 35, was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital. She died at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Mr. Bowman will be charged with murder, said Sgt. David Turno, of the public safety department.

"We have three witnesses to the fact that the man retrieved a weapon, pointed it and fired it," Sgt. Turno said. "We're not looking for any other suspects."

According to eyewitness accounts, Mr. Bowman was upset with Ms. Simpkins, who police said was his girlfriend. The couple lived together on Hampton Avenue, police said.

Witnesses watched Mr. Bowman fire a round from the handgun into a bedroom where Ms. Simpkins was at the time, according to a police report.

Officers found Ms. Simpkins lying in a small pool of blood on the bed, Sgt. Turno said.

Mr. Bowman told authorities he didn't "know how it happened or who had shot her," according to the police report.

Authorities sat Mr. Bowman on a couch in the house, where he repeatedly reached beneath cushions, the report states. Officers searched the couch and found a .38-caliber handgun and a bottle containing crack cocaine, they said.

Mr. Bowman was taken to the Aiken County Detention Center, where he was charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute within a half-mile of a school and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Authorities said they did not know whether drugs were involved in the shooting.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.

Aiken authorities will charge John Bowman with murder in the shooting of Denise Simpkins.