Bernice Bowen's release to reopen old wounds

Gloria Gomez reports

- In 1998, the name Hank Earl Carr was synonymous with violence and terror in the Tampa Bay area.  When the carnage was over, three law enforcement officers were dead -- and so was Carr.

Carr's girlfriend, Bernice Bowen, was tried as an accessory because she lied to police about Carr's identity.  During her trial, detective Henry Duran said Bowen was anything but cooperative.

Bowen later took the stand and broke down as she described how it all began that day, when her little boy was shot by Carr at point-blank range.

The community watched the deadly chain of events unfold next: The slaying of two Tampa police officers who had arrested him, then a state trooper, then the manhunt and standoff.

"This is one of those first major cases where three law enforcement officers were killed -- were brutally murdered -- by a suspect," recalled attorney Anthony Rickman.

Rickman says Bowen's role in the deadly rampage came when she lied about Carr's real name.  She also didn't tell them he carried a handcuff key, which he used to free himself before murdering the officers with their own weapon.

"The public danger that created, by not telling law enforcement his true identity; the death of these officers came by not telling the true identity," said Rickman.

Bowen got 21 years in prison.  Now, after doing her time, she's about to released.

But the slaying of Tampa Police detectives Randy Bell and Ricky Childers is still being felt today.  Retired detective Kevin Morris, who worked side-by-side with both of them, says their murders "destroyed the homicide unit at the time.  Some guys even left."

To hear Bowen is now getting out of prison opens up old wounds that never quite healed.

"It will be very hard for her to come back to this community, knowing what she was convicted of, knowing what she did, and knowing the end results of the deaths of these officers," added Rickman.

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