Shocking info on Louann Emma Bowers

Some surprising info on Louann Emma Bowers. She was 16 when she disappeared in 1993, leaving behind a note saying she was running away to get married. I later heard she was found safe in the summer of 2009, but had no other info. Well, now I do: the York Dispatch says Louann ran away with her uncle by marriage, Sinhue Johnson, who was then 28. She was stopped by a police officer in New York City in June 2009, identified, interviewed, and released back into oblivion. A few months later, child protective services found Louann, her uncle and their five kids in a hotel room. The children were completely hidden from the outside world:

The children range in age from 2 to 13 years old. They have no birth certificates, were never enrolled in school, never received medical care or vaccinations and had no documentation to prove they existed, police allege. For years, they lived in squalor at 734 S. Duke St. with no heat, no electric service, no water, no functioning toilet and a leaky roof, court documents allege.

[Police Detective Dana] Ward said they lived in one filth-covered room of the house, which is now condemned, and apparently used plastic sheets to gather – and use – rainwater leaking through the ceiling.
The children are now in foster care, enrolled in school and receiving medical attention, Ward said.

This article has a current picture of Louann and says, “The children aren’t at their expected education levels and there are possible mental-health issues with some of them.” Not a big surprise. More details:

“Everything was in complete disarray, covered in filth,” Ward said of the home’s interior. “It appeared the entire family was residing in a second-floor room.”
The building’s other rooms were uninhabitable because of clutter and structural deficiencies, he said.
In the room where the family allegedly lived, Ward found children’s clothing, dishes, pots and pans and a kerosene heater that was apparently used to cook on, he said. He also found one double bed and a set of bunk beds.
Water source? In another room, he found sheets of plastic hung to catch rain that leaked through the ceiling, Ward said. Rainwater that collected in the plastic sheets was funneled into buckets, he said.
“It appears that’s how they were getting water,” Ward said, as there was no water service to the building.

Both Louann and Johnson are now facing child endangerment charges in connection with this. The York Daily Record says they are facing additional unrelated weapons charges. Louann’s attorney says she was manipulated by Johnson and didn’t realize just how bad the situation was:

Bowers loves her children and never thought she was doing anything to hurt them, according to Gross, her defense attorney.
“She just thought it was their circumstance as a family,” he said. “She actually thought she was acting in a way that was best for her family, but she now understands there were many, many shortcomings. … She understands the consequences of her actions and the basis for these charges.”
Gross said he thinks Bowers’ own history factors into her “inaction” with respect to her children. He confirmed Bowers has been with Johnson since she was 16 and considers him her husband.
“The issue we have is that when you’re … with somebody, you tend to become what they want you to become, and that’s really where she’s at,” Gross said. “She has a very adolescent, immature view of love and loyalty.”

This reminds me a great deal of the Tanya Kach case. Except even more tragic because innocent children — though Louann was one as well — are involved here.

23 thoughts on “Shocking info on Louann Emma Bowers

  1. amy November 9, 2010 / 1:24 pm

    Wow..if this isn’t a case of Stockholm Syndrome, I don’t know what is. She was 16 when she ran away with him- an immature child- and I am sure she has been emotionally stunted by this experience as well. I hope that Louanne and the children will get help and that they authorties will not just jail her…but educate her. Such a pity, but I am glad she’s alive.

  2. J.A. Scrambles-Ashmole, Bart. November 9, 2010 / 2:37 pm

    I’m not sure the age 16 is synonymous with the term “immature child” and that Bowers should escape blame for stunting her children’s lives.

    • Meaghan November 9, 2010 / 3:03 pm

      Me neither. But this is certainly a very sad situation, and I think she is worthy of compassion — though I feel sorrier for her children.

      • J.A. Scrambles-Ashmole, Bart. November 9, 2010 / 5:13 pm

        Compassion is the essential virtue of any culture. But it is not effectively utilized when used to bypass all degree of blame.

  3. Princess Shantae November 9, 2010 / 5:29 pm

    I agree. Everybody loves playing victim now but nobody likes to face up to the bad things they did and take responsibility for them without making excuses.
    I bet Louann’s aunt isn’t feeling too compasionate for her right now, fooling around with her husband, and them all living like garbage the way they did.
    And just about every mother who ever had kids get hurt or killed or took away from her goes on and on about how much she loved them. Or blame it all on a man. Our ancestors didn’t fight to get the vote and equal rights so the women of today can sit around and say they couldn’t take care of their own kids because they’re too weak to stand up to some man. Its just went way backward.

  4. Zoe November 10, 2010 / 5:58 am

    I think this is a pretty sad case. What kind of a-hole was that guy, I don’t really think she had an excuse either but at the very least he should have known better. Whats to bet she eventually gets these kids back.

    • Meaghan November 10, 2010 / 4:32 pm

      Certainly not. I do like the detail about the judge being like “yeah, go throw up if you want to, but you have to watch.”

    • Saffy November 14, 2010 / 8:26 pm

      at some point when do these women say that their kids are their priority? I remember this horrible story a couple of years ago about this couple where the boyfriend beat the little girl to death. While she was dying they wouldn’t go to a hospital because HE had a criminal record, so they let her die and threw her in a dumpster. They had three other kids with them (his and hers). He beat her as well, so he probably had her pretty well terrorized. Both got life in prison, however.
      If you can’t take care of your kids, folks, there are options besides letting them starve to death or killing them.

  5. Princess Shantae November 10, 2010 / 9:31 am

    These kids are probably unadoptable by now. Almost like those ferral (sp?) children you sometimes hear about.

    • Meaghan November 10, 2010 / 4:33 pm

      They’re probably not any worse than the children who were raised in Eastern European orphanages, and many of those got adopted.

      • forthelost November 10, 2010 / 5:44 pm

        And most of them turned out all right.

  6. JanZ November 10, 2010 / 3:29 pm

    OMG! I leave near them! I can’t believe this! The mom probably was manipulated into thinking she was in love with her uncle, but everything that has happened since? Wow, some hold that guy had over her! But no effort to teach her kids, not born in a hospital, no medical attention – that’s inexcusable! She WAS 14 and knew enough about life to know that kids go to school and there are drs and stuff. WHAT did those kids do all day? No TV, can’t read, nobody ever knew there was anybody living in the abandoned house. Unless the mom had diminished capacity I think both parents should be held responsible. And don’t EVER give up on kids! Pray for them!

    • J.A. Scrambles-Ashmole, Bart. November 10, 2010 / 5:47 pm

      She was actually 16 when she ran away with Mr. Right.

      • Princess Shantae November 10, 2010 / 6:31 pm

        And her first kid wasn’t born for a few more years after she took off.
        A lot of the eastern European orphans didn’t turn out so good, a lot of them ended up being too much for the Americans that took them in. There’s web sites that talk about how how many of them ended up being abused by parents who couldn’t handle their bad behavior.

      • Meaghan November 10, 2010 / 6:52 pm

        I think the Eastern European orphan success stories outnumbered the failures, though of course there were a lot of challenges.

      • Saffy November 15, 2010 / 12:56 am

        there was a story a few years ago (locally) about this dingbat who adopted a russian kid and had trouble with him. So she met this guy on the internet who offered to help her ‘discipline’ him…this unemployed guy who lived in a rundown apartment and somehow she thought he was some expert. Long story short- he beat the kid to death. He got 14 years i think but she got nothing…the irony is she was a Kindergarten teacher!!!

  7. Vanessa November 13, 2010 / 2:41 pm

    I really think Louann needs to be cut some slack and she and her kids need counseling… we don’t know everything about what was going on when she ran away, and she was just a naive kid… she along with her children have alot of arrested development issues, and this uncle of hers is a real scumbag, so I hope they can adjust to society

  8. Saffy November 14, 2010 / 8:22 pm

    what a horrible story. It’s obvious that this guy is seriously disturbed and this girl is probably mentally or developmentally impaired. As disgusting as it is, it sounds like he was the manipulator and she and the kids were his prisoners. The poor kids though…what a horror!

  9. Meyahna November 21, 2010 / 3:46 am

    That’s strange that no one ever notice Louann and the uncle took off at the same time?! I guess the investigation into her disappearance was pretty limited. Unless police always knew she took off with him and let people believe for more than one decade that nothing was known about her disappearance.

    • Meaghan November 21, 2010 / 8:31 am

      It appears they did know and thought they must be together, but this info didn’t become publicly known till after they were found.

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