Milan man facing murder, arson charges in woman’s death

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:41 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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MILAN, Ill. (KWQC) - A Milan man is now facing first-degree murder and attempted aggravated arson charges in the death of 54-year-old Julie Bowser.

Bowser was pronounced dead Wednesday. The new charges were filed Friday against Ward F. Davis, 39, online Rock Island County court records show.

Davis has been in the Rock Island County Jail since Sept. 17 on a charge of aggravated battery.

Court records show he has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 5.

According to a criminal complaint, Davis forcefully struck Bowser on the head multiple times with a blunt force object, causing extensive brain injuries.

Ward F. Davis, 39, of Milan, faces one count of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony, in Rock...
Ward F. Davis, 39, of Milan, faces one count of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony, in Rock Island County Circuit Court.(KWQC/Rock Island County Sheriff's Office)

In a media release, Milan police said they responded just after 11 a.m. Sept. 17 to the 700 block of Hillcrest Road for a woman lying in the roadway. She reportedly had been hit in the head.

A caller also reported a gas can on fire in the laundry room of Pine View Apartments, according to the release.

Officers found the woman, who had apparent head injuries and was bleeding. The suspect, later identified as Davis, was gone, according to the release.

Bowser’s family told TV6 Investigates earlier this week that they want answers from the owners of Pine View Apartments as to why Ward was a tenant there, and why Bowser was not warned about his violent history.

According to court documents filed in both Scott and Rock Island counties, Davis has seven convictions of assault with injury, dating as far back as 1997, and up to 2016.

He is also a convicted sex offender, charged in 2002 in Scott County with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl. He’s since been charged and convicted twice with failing to register, and two times with living within 2,000 feet of a school.

Plus, in 2015, court documents state Davis was removed as a tenant from a previous address due to the state of his mental health.

In response to Davis’s past, Julie’s sister Lisa Bowser gave TV6 Investigates a written statement, saying:

“He took a daughter, sister, mother, niece, and grandmother from us. She had struggled with mental illness and addiction for years and she had turned herself around this past 3 years, and [she] had a whole new outlook on life and looked forward to her future.....We are very heartbroken that she was viciously attacked. We will get justice for Julie. Knowing she was scared of this monster and he is the reason she is where she is. She is bright, funny, artistic and a huge heart. The charges against him are nothing compared to what he did to my sister. How was he even allowed on the street with the record he has? She would never had moved in there knowing he is a sexual predator. That is a fact on him. He stole her from us.”

TV6 Investigates spoke with McDonnell Property Management, who manages Pine View Apartments, and asked if they were aware of Davis’s record.

They stated that they took over management after both Bowser and Davis were already living there and therefore did not screen the history of either tenant.

They also stated that Bowser had never filed a complaint against Davis so they were unaware of the situation.

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