Two of the three men accused in the brutal rape and murder of a 16-year-old Baltimore City college student pleaded guilty Nov. 9, while the third, a juvenile charged as an adult, is headed for trial in the coming weeks.
Arnesha Bowers, 16, was found in the basement of her grandmother’s Northeast Baltimore home in June 2015. She had been beaten, strangled and raped.
Adonay Dixon (left) and John Childs plead guilty to the rape and murder of 16-year old Arnesha Bowers. (Baltimore Police Department)
The guilty pleas of John Childs, 22, and Adonay Dixon, 25, shed new light on the Bowers’ murder. Prosecutors said the crime began as a plot to burglarize the home of Bowers’ grandmother, but when Bowers discovered the men stealing items, they hit her multiple times in the head with a meat tenderizer. Prosecutors believe her body, along with the home, was set ablaze to cover up the crime.
“I’ve been a prosecutor for 33 years, and it doesn’t get any worse,” Assistant States Attorney Sharon Holback told Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill. “It’s one of the two worst cases I’ve ever worked on.”
Through his plea deal, Childs admitted to striking Bowers in the head, raping, and killing her and was sentenced to life in prison.
The plea deal that Dixon agreed to called for him to serve a sentence of life with all but 50 years suspended. Dixon admitted to orchestrating most of the crime.
The third defendant, 15-year-old Raeshawn Rivers has pleaded not guilty to murder, rape, arson, and gang offenses. Opening statements in his trial are set to begin Nov. 17. Rivers is being charged as an adult. It is believed that Rivers and Bowers were dating.
On June 7, 2015, Bowers attended a party at an apartment on the 4900 block of Harford Road, where Rivers lived with Childs. Bowers’ grandmother picked her up from the party just before 11 p.m. and took her home. Her grandmother then left for her overnight job.
The men later showed up and Bowers let them inside the home, said Holback. Bowers offered the three food and talked with them until she went with Rivers for what Holback described as a “romantic encounter” upstairs.
Authorities said Dixon and the others devised a plan to burglarize the home while at the party, using Rivers to lure Bowers upstairs while they grabbed what they could. Bowers came downstairs and caught Dixon and Childs stealing. According to court documents, Dixon grabbed a meat tenderizer from the kitchen, handed it to Childs who struck the victim in the head multiple times.
“After the first strike, the victim cried and promised she would not tell on him,” said Holback. But, Dixon struck her twice more, and the men believed she was dead.
Bowers was not dead, and Childs took her in the basement as Dixon and Rivers began to fill a trash bag with items in the home including food and electronics. DNA from both Childs and Rivers were found on Bowers body. She was raped and strangled with a cord from a water heater. Both Dixon and Childs set the home and Bowers’ body on fire.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget those pictures,” Holback told Judge Fletcher-Hill.
Public defender Sean Coleman, who represented Childs, said his client 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, said Coleman.
Sandra Bowers, Arnesha’s grandmother said she ‘lost a beautiful granddaughter.”
Bowers had been applying to college and, after her death, her grandmother told the judge e-mails from colleges still 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,” said Sandra Bowers.
Authorities have said that Bowers’ killing was a gang initiation. “This was supposed to be done in order for one of these guys to get in and another to move higher up within this gang,” said Maj. Stanley Brandford to the media in June 2015.
In court, Holback maintained that Rivers’ family has gang ties.