Justice served 30 years later

Tempe man convicted of ASU student's 1978 rape and murder

 by Matt Culbertson
 published on Thursday, January 17, 2008

Deanna Dent / THE STATE PRESS
‘A DARK CLOUD... LIFTED’: Leslie James holds a photograph of her sister, Deana Bowdoin, a former ASU student who was murdered in 1978 at her apartment. Bowdoin’s case was considered “cold” for more than two decades, but recently her murderer was found and convicted.
Deanna Dent / THE STATE PRESS
James has kept a Christmas card written by Bowdoin before she was killed.
Deanna Dent / THE STATE PRESS
She also has held onto a copy of The State Press from Jan. 19, 1978, which reported the story of her sister’s murder.
Deanna Dent / THE STATE PRESS
NOT FORGOTTEN: Leslie James shows the notebooks at her Tempe office Wednesday afternoon. She has used them to take detailed notes of the trial of her sister’s killer.

The night of Jan. 6, 1978, ASU senior Deana Bowdoin was having dinner with her parents.

Her mother, Bobbie Bowdoin, said she remembers asking her daughter what she wanted for a graduation present.

"She didn't even hesitate. It was a scuba diving trip she wanted to do," Bobbie Bowdoin said.

"That was the last time we saw her."

On Jan. 7, 1978, Deana Bowdoin, then 21, was raped, stabbed and strangled, according to a statement from the Maricopa County Attorney's office.

Earlier this week, a jury in the Maricopa County Superior Court found Deana Bowdoin's rapist and murderer guilty.

Tempe resident Clarence Dixon, now 52, was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder and rape, according to the statement. He may receive the death penalty.

"We're satisfied by the verdict," said Deana Bowdoin's older sister, Leslie James. "It's like a dark cloud has been lifted."

The aggravation and mitigation phase of the trial, which will decide whether Dixon will receive the death penalty, began Wednesday.

Dixon was indicted on November 2002 while he was in prison for other crimes after Tempe Police Detective Tom Magazzeni presented DNA evidence to the Maricopa County Attorney's office, according to the statement. The trial began Jan. 8 and is now a death penalty case, said J.W. Brown, Maricopa County Superior Court spokeswoman.

Magazzeni's office did not return calls by press time. Because of the pending litigation, none of Bowdoin's family was able to comment in detail on the ongoing case.

Deana Bowdoin was an honors student at ASU studying business, James said. She needed only eight credits to graduate.

"She had just moved into that apartment fall semester," she said. "She was considering graduate school, maybe law school."

Deana Bowdoin lived near ASU in an apartment at 1031 E. Lemon St., James added.

Deana Bowdoin's boyfriend found her body, he said.

"My father got a phone call early that morning," James said. "No parent or sibling should ever have to get a call like that."

Deana Bowdoin worked about 20 hours each week as a secretary for a patent attorney's office, her mother said.

She wanted to travel and work in international business, she said.

"She spoke Spanish and French fluently," Bobbie Bowdoin said. "She could get by in Italian and Portuguese."

In a letter to the Arizona State Supreme Court, Larry Aidem described Bowdoin as one of his "best, most-cherished friends" in high school.

"Deana was one of those people whose very presence elevated everything around her," Aidem said in the letter.

The actions of Dixon caused unspeakable suffering to the Bowdoin family, and "shattered the lives of dozens of friends who had the extraordinary good fortune to know Deana Bowdoin," Aidem's letter said.

"Throughout my life I have mourned the loss of my friend Deana Bowdoin, and I will continue to honor her memory forever," the letter finished. Aidem was unable to return calls by press time.

Bobbie Bowdoin said she remembers her daughter was very excited on the night before her death, having finished registering for her final semester of college.

"She was very bright and she was funny and she was pretty," Bobbie Bowdoin said. "She was a fun daughter to have. She really was a joy to have. "

James said Deana Bowdoin had the world ahead of her. She said she remembers talking to Bowdoin the night before she went to dinner with her parents.

"You never know. It's sad because you never know when the last time you're going to talk with someone [is]," James said. "We still miss her every day. This doesn't bring her back."

Reach the reporter at: mculber@asu.edu.


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