Milan woman dies in Peoria hospital, death being investigated as a homicide

Local News

Julie Bowser (contributed photo)

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Milan woman died at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Wednesday, and her death is now being investigated as a homicide, the Peoria County Coroner said Friday.

Coroner Jamie Harwood said 54-year-old Julie Marie Bowser of Milan was found unresponsive outside in a parking lot at 718 Hillcrest Rd. in Milan at approximately 11:04 in the morning on Friday, Sept. 17.

He said she was initially taken to Unity Point Health (Trinity) E.R. in Rock Island but was later transferred to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria for what looked like a traumatic head injury.

Harwood said despite aggressive treatment efforts, Bowser died at OSF on Sept. 22, at 6:40 p.m.

An autopsy on Bowser revealed she suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries to her head, resulting in severe bleeding in the brain.

Her death is being investigated as a homicide, Harwood confirmed.

WHBF reported Ward F. Davis, 39, of Milan, a suspect in the assault, was being held Wednesday on a $250,000 bond in Rock Island County Jail.

Ward Davis (contributed photo)

The incident

Shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, Milan Police responded to the 700 block of Hillcrest Road for a report of a woman who had been hit in the head and was lying in the roadway, according to a Monday news release from the Milan Police Department.  

The caller also reported a gas can on fire in the laundry room of Pineview Apartments.

Officers found the woman bleeding, with apparent head injuries. She was transported by ambulance from the scene and was in critical care, the release said.

A suspect had left the area, police said.

A family is devastated

Lisa Bowser cannot believe how her sister was taken away from her family.

“She was attacked from behind from her neighbor with a hammer,” said Lisa Bowser.

According to Lisa, the incident happened at the Pineview Apartments in Milan. Julie had
moved to the complex three months ago. Soon after, she met a new neighbor.

“She befriended him at first because she’s neighborly and friendly and then he just started
stalking her and harassing her. She had told the landlord twice about him,” said Lisa Bowser.

Things quickly took a turn when Julie’s family found information online about her neighbor, Ward Davis.

“His uncle told her to stay away from him because he’s a bad guy. She told that to my mother on Monday and then my mom called me and I looked him up on the internet and found all this stuff about him,” said Lisa Bowser.

On Monday morning, Lisa and her mom made the difficult decision to let doctors take Julie
off oxygen.

Julie Bowser is survived by a daughter, two sons, eight grandchildren, her mother, brother and sister, Lisa told Local 4 News.

Davis is set to appear in Rock Island County Court on Oct. 5 for a preliminary hearing.

No other information has been released at this time.

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