PENDLETON — An autopsy conducted on a man, who was a “person of interest” in a December 2020 shooting in Heppner and was later found dead in the Umatilla County Jail after turning himself in, has proven "inconclusive" but indicates there was “no foul play,” according to a spokesperson from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.

David Bowles, 43, was wanted for weeks in connection to a homicide investigation on the shooting death of his wife, Marlen Bowles, who was shot on Dec. 15, 2020, and later died after being Life Flighted to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland in critical condition, according to officials.

Now that the initial autopsy has been conducted, medical examiners will conduct a toxicology report, which could take more than three months to complete, according to the spokesperson. The toxicology report will analyze things like possible medical issues or drug use that could have contributed to Bowles’ death, the spokesperson said. 

Bowles turned himself in to the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, Jan. 7, and was then lodged in the Umatilla County Jail on charges of first-degree manslaughter and felon in possession of a weapon, according to the Oregon State Police. Jail staff found Bowles deceased in his bed while making their rounds on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 9.

Bowles had not made any statements to law enforcement when he was taken into custody, according to Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson. Nelson added that although the criminal case will not go forward now that Bowles is dead, law enforcement will continue their efforts to learn more about the incident on Dec. 15.


Reporter primarily covering government and public safety in Umatilla County.

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