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RTD Local crime

Scene of homicides had drawn earlier complaints


´╗┐Jamal Clemons made his first court appearance Tuesday, Dec. 27, after the Christmas Eve slayings of two people and the abduction of a 2-year-old.

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Richmond police had investigated public complaints about possible illegal drug activity at the house in Richmond's East End where two people were killed on Christmas Eve.

Those concerns were raised repeatedly by neighbors, including Del. Delores L. McQuinn, D-Richmond, a former city councilwoman who lives a block from the house where the slayings occurred.

"All of us had voiced our concerns that some activities were going on in that house that were not conducive to the positive neighborhood we wanted," McQuinn said Wednesday.

Police Lt. Emmett Williams, acting captain of the department's major crimes division, confirmed that police had responded to neighbors' complaints about possible drug trafficking at the house in the 800 block of North 35th Street.

"We couldn't substantiate them," Williams said Wednesday.

The owner of the house, Michael Ciner, said he was unaware of the concerns, although he knew that one of the home's occupants, Edward Lee Bowmer Jr., was recovering from a drug problem.

"Never the suggestion, nothing," Ciner said Wednesday.

Bowmer and Robin Clapp were shot to death in the house on Saturday about 5 p.m. Bowmer lived there, but Clapp did not. She lived in Varina and was visiting the house when she was shot, according to her aunt Cathy Gross.

Gross also said that while Clapp and Bowmer were friends, they were not in a romantic relationship. "I just want it to be clear he was not her boyfriend, she did not live there," she said.

She said that Clapp, who has a 17-year-old son, would have turned 56 next month.

Gross said she had not seen her niece for a year or more until Clapp's father — Gross' brother — was hospitalized for emphysema in Newport News. He died earlier this month, Gross said.

"My niece is dead and it's very, very, very sad. No one deserves to be murdered," she said.

Richmond police will ask a multijurisdictional grand jury next week to indict Jamal Louis Clemons in both homicides. They will also seek an indictment against Clemons for allegedly abducting a 2-year-old boy by taking a running sport utility vehicle as the boy's mother was trying to deliver Christmas gifts to the house.

The boy, Kaiden Burnside, was found unharmed at 11:30 p.m. Saturday in the abandoned vehicle in a cemetery about a mile from the scene of the shooting.

Clemons, 27, has an extensive criminal history and had been released from a Hanover County jail the day before the killings after serving time for a probation violation. He was living with his mother in the 700 block of North 35th Street.

McQuinn, who lives at the corner of the street's 900 block, said she knew Clemons and had tried to help him as a child. "The situation he was raised in was an explosive situation," she said.

She used the same description for the house where the killings occurred. "It was an accident waiting to happen," she said. "You knew something explosive was going to happen there."

McQuinn said neighbors had become increasingly concerned about people going in and out of the house, from behind the house and alley — including people from the neighborhood she called "undesirables."

She said the police had responded to neighbors' complaints. "They were frequent visitors down there, the police," she said. "It was a situation that had been ongoing."

Richmond code enforcement officials confirmed a complaint more than a year ago that the house was an illegal boarding house. The city closed the case in February after Ciner resolved the problem by getting rid of the illegal boarders. Police confirmed that it was not operating as an illegal boarding house at the time of the killings.

Ciner said he allowed Bowmer to stay there, though not with a fixed lease. Ciner said other people, many of them also recovering from substance abuse problems, stayed there temporarily and helped with odd jobs. "Eddie was a really good human being," he said.

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