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Milan woman dies after suffering "extensive brain injuries" from assault

Milan Police arrested and charged Ward Davis with aggravated battery after he struck the woman on the head multiple times with a blunt object.

MILAN, Ill — Update

Julie Bowser, 54, died on Wednesday, September 22, according to her sister, Lisa Bowser.

Milan police reports say Julie was assaulted on Friday, September 17, and suffered brain injuries from the attack.

An autopsy by Peoria County Coroner's Office is underway but is not complete.

Lisa has set-up a GoFundMe page in memory of Julie. 

"Julie was taken from us in an unspeakable way," reads a post on the GoFundMe page. "Loved by so many, she will be remembered and missed forever. She leaves behind her three children and eight grandchildren."


An incident Friday, September 17 sent one woman to the hospital, where she was listed in critical condition. 

Investigators say it happened at Pine View Apartments in Milan, Illinois.

According to reports, police have arrested one man, 39-year-old Ward Davis, after the woman was found with head injuries and bleeding on the ground outside of the apartment building. Court documents say that Davis forcefully struck her in the head multiple times with a blunt object, causing extensive brain injuries. 

Online court records show that Davis was arrested and charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, a Class 3 felony.

The injured woman is 54-year-old Julie Bowser. She's only lived at Pine View Apartments since June, according to her family, and she has three children and eight grandchildren. Bowser's family tells News 8 she is receiving comfort measures, end of life care at a hospital in Peoria, as of Monday, Sept. 20. 

Charlie Locke has lived at Pine View Apartments for six years and said it's usually a quiet place. He described it as a bit of a "bachelor's pad" where everyone looks out for one another. He said Bowser made a point to introduce herself to everyone when she moved in. 

"Whenever I talked to her in passing, she was kind of always smiling, jovial, happy," Locke said.

Locke was the one who called 911 on Friday morning. He said he had gone outside and seen smoke, and discovered a gas can was on fire in the facility's laundry room. It was after he removed the can that he saw Bowser lying unresponsive on the ground, 20 feet away from her apartment door. 

"It didn't look like a fall, it looked like something had happened to her," he said. "And now I was kind of on nerve and jittery. I didn't know who was around."

While he waited for help to arrive, he sat with Bowser and tried to reassure her. 

"My whole thing was just stay by her and keep an eye out, because I didn't know if there were other people around, if this was isolated," Locke said. "Just trying to talk to her, letting her know, 'Julie this is who's talking to you right now. If you can, you know, just stay with me until helps coming.' But the labored breathing that she was having, her body was struggling."

Locke said this was between 10:30 and 11 in the morning, and almost everyone else living at the site was sleeping or at work. When police arrived, Locke said he pointed them toward Davis, who also lived in the apartment complex. He had seen Davis and Bowser together before, and he knew that Davis was awake because Davis had asked him for a cigarette an hour before. 

"I basically, he made small talk, 30 seconds or a minute, kind of in passing small talk with this individual," Locke said.

Authorities say their relationship is currently unknown. An investigation is ongoing, and police had not yet said what led up to the attack. 

Locke said he and many of the neighbors are unsettled, and he wishes he could have done more. 

"There might have been cues, you know, to this, that may or may not have prevented this," he said. "I don't know, you know, if she felt comfortable enough coming to any one of us and said, 'Hey, I feel uncomfortable around this guy. All day long, he's doing this doing that.' Any little bit of information that would have had any one of us other guys here, you know, at least looking out for her."

Ward made a first appearance in court and was held on $250,000 bond. A preliminary hearing has been set for October 5 at 8:30 a.m. 

Credit: Ward Davis, from the Rock Island County Jail

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