Bail set for brother, sister accused of assisting in inmate's escape

CINCINNATI - A man’s escape from jail was a family affair, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the brother and sister of a man who was captured after escaping jail July 1 appeared in court on charges they assisted him.  The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office located inmate Christopher Bowden on Tuesday after he walked out of the Hamilton County Justice Center

Bowden, who was sentenced to 10 years for robbery, assumed the identity of another inmate to escape. Authorities say he made his way to his sister’s apartment in the 2600 block of Wendee Drive, where a multi-agency fugitive squad found him.

Christopher's sister and brother, Jessica Bowden and Robert Bowden, appeared in court Wednesday, each charged with assisting Christopher in his escape and evasion. Both received a $10,000 bond.

Jessica and Robert were both indicted Friday with obstructing justice.

"The allegation is that (Robert Bowden) harbored and provided transportation for his brother, helped Chris Bowden escape from the justice center," said a prosecutor in court.

Jessica Bowden’s live-in boyfriend, Thomas Gardner, 24, was also charged with helping Christopher Bowden by harboring and concealing apprehension. A judge set a $10,000 bond for Gardner as well.

Christopher Bowden faces a new charge of escape, a felony, after being caught.

In court Wednesday, both Robert Bowden and his mother said no member of their family was harboring a fugitive.

Robert Bowden's defense attorney said his client was not involved at all.

“My client received a phone call from his mother saying ‘the police are at the house, we don't know what's going,’” that defense attorney said. “He drove over there, was walking up to the driveway to talk to the officers and they arrested him."

Earlier Robert Bowden told the media that he was “shocked over the situation” and that his brother should not “run from these folks."

Robin Bowden, mother of the three children now charged after Christopher Bowden’s escape, scoffed at the arrest of Robert and Jessica, saying police accusations that "we had all this in place and how my daughter and everybody is all arrested and we've been harboring my son, no that is not the case.  We've been working with officials to bring our son in safely and that's the most important thing."

Chris Bowden’s girlfriend, 20-year-old Amber Howard, was also arrested and charged with obstructing justice. She also received a $10,000 bond.

WCPO reporters Holly Pennebaker and Jason Law contributed to this report.

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