Bail reduced for consultant charged with manslaughter in woman's death Ellicott City man still held in jail ELLICOTT CITY/ELKRIDGE

A District Court judge yesterday reduced bail for an Ellicott City financial consultant, charged with manslaughter, who says he used a chloroform-soaked cloth to treat a 20-year-old woman for toothache.

Melvin Bowers, 50, was ordered held at the Howard County Detention Center in lieu of $100,000 bond. His bail had been set at $250,000 when he was charged after Howard County police discovered the body of Geneva Marie Hodge, of the 300 block of Oldham St. in Baltimore, on the bedroom floor of his suburban home Monday afternoon.


Assistant State's Attorney Greg Smouse urged visiting Carroll District Court Judge JoAnn Ellinghaus-Jones to keep the higher bond.

Louis Willemin, the public defender representing Mr. Bowers, termed Ms. Hodge's death "tragic and accidental." He asked that Mr. Bowers be released on his promise to reappear in court.


Mr. Smouse questioned inconsistencies in Mr. Bowers' statements to police. Mr. Bowers, he said, had told police that he had considered fleeing his home in the 2800 block of Southview Road before police and fire and rescue personnel arrived.

Mr. Bowers called authorities about 3:50 p.m. Monday, telling them that Ms. Hodge had stopped breathing and that his efforts at resuscitation were futile. But investigators estimated that Ms. Hodge had been dead for as long as 12 hours before the emergency call.

The state medical examiner's office hasn't determined a cause of death and is holding Ms. Hodge's body for a toxicology test, which they expect to complete in about a week.

Police found a chloroform-soaked cloth stained with mascara along with a large container of the toxic liquid in a bathroom next to Mr. Bowers' bedroom.

Mr. Bowers told police he last saw Ms. Hodge conscious Sunday night when he applied chloroform over her nose and mouth because she had a toothache, according to court records. Her body was found with marks on the wrists, and handcuffs were found on a dresser nearby, the documents show.

Mr. Bowers said he and Ms. Hodge had been in a relationship for about 18 months. He told police that he picked Ms. Hodge up Sunday night in Baltimore.

Mr. Bowers, divorced with four children, lives alone in his home in north Ellicott City. A self-employed financial consultant, Mr. Bowers has a degree in electrical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and a master's degree from the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, his attorney said.

Employed most of his life in the banking and insurance industries, Mr. Bowers is licensed to sell real estate, Mr. Willemin said. He said his client had recently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, promising to pay off as many debts as possible from available income.