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'Ramsey Street rapist' gets up to 28 years in plea agreement

'I'm still haunted by that night,' one of his victims says in court.


Darold Wayne Bowden, who became known as "the Ramsey Street rapist" after a series of sexual assaults in north Fayetteville between 2006 and 2008, pleaded guilty Friday in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Bowden pleaded guilty to 24 charges as part of a plea agreement and was sentenced to a minimum of roughly 22 years, nine months and a maximum of approximately 28 years, three months in prison.

 The plea hearing was emotional as five of Bowden’s rape victims addressed him and the judge after District Attorney Billy West detailed their stories as part of the proceedings.

 The victims and their family and friends sat together on a bench inside the courtroom. One of the victims came with a service dog, which she later said she relies on for security and support.

 “Living in a land of freedom does not mean you can take anything you want,” one of the victims said to her assailant after expressing some relief that Bowden would be spending more than two decades behind bars.

 “Unfortunately, the defendant here is a coward,” she said. “The defendant – you lose all your power today. You are sitting here in shackles. Not me.”

 Another victim said, “Against all odds, I have made it to 30. I’m still haunted by that night. Today I will walk out of this courtroom a survivor and not a victim.”

 Bowden never faced his victims as they spoke to him.

 When asked later by Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons if he had anything to say – to the victims, to the courtroom, to him – Bowden said, “No.”

 Bowden was arrested in 2018 on what was then a newly developed investigative technique known as genetic genealogy. That’s the use of genealogical DNA tests, DNA profiling and DNA testing, in combination with traditional genealogical methods to infer genetic relationships between individuals.

 In this case, a family member had sent DNA that formed what West called “a family tree.” It directly linked Bowden to many of the crimes.

 Bowden, who is 47 and from the Linden area, faced 24 charges overall, including five counts of first-degree rape and one count of second-degree rape.

 With his lawyer Carl Ivarsson at his side, Bowden told Ammons that he was pleading guilty to the wide-ranging list of charges that included five counts of second-degree sexual offense, one count of attempted second-degree sexual offense, three counts of second-degree rape, one count of attempted second-degree sexual offense rape, one count of statutory rape of a person who is 13, 14 or 15, and one count of taking indecent liberties with a child.

 The crimes occurred in neighborhoods around Ramsey street from March 2006 to January 2008. Many residents in the area were on edge during that time.

 All of the crimes occurred about seven miles from where Bowden lived off Palestine Road.

 Should he be released from prison, Bowden will be on 24-hour satellite monitoring, according to Ammons. He must pay his attorney fee of $17,000 and pay the state $17,000, a fee for each day in custody.

 Ammons said Bowden must also undergo psychiatric counseling.

 There will be no early release and no work release, Ammons ordered, which Bowden had requested through his lawyer.

 Before sentencing, Ammons removed his face mask and told Bowden that he wanted the defendant to see him when he spoke to him.

 “I, like most people in this room, are appalled by this,” the judge said. “It’s a tribute to our system that I still have to give the defendant all the rights you’re eligible with. You have inflicted emotional pain on these victims.

 “You have saved yourself a long time in prison,” Ammons said. “I agree with this plea arrangement and accept it.”

 When talking with reporters, West expressed respect for the victims.

 “I think it’s what one victim said. ‘I went from a victim today to a survivor.’ They’re so courageous,” West said. “They’re survivors and not victims. Hopefully, they can get some closure today.”

 Bowden will “go away for what we hope will be a long time,” West said.

 “The reason for the plea deal was for them not to be the victim in there again,” he said, referring to what the women would have endured emotionally through a long, drawn-out trial.

 Bowden, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, entered the courtroom and sat next to Ivarsson. The two made little contact, and Bowden sat mostly with his head tilted to the right, appearing to face straight ahead.

 “Ya’ll have found … this sentence is appropriate?” Ammons asked.

 “Yes,” Ivarsson responded.

 “Mr. Bowden, will you stand up and raise your right hand. Are you able to hear and understand me, sir?”

 Bowden muttered something.

 "I prefer that people look at me when they talk to me,” Ammons said.

 “Are you able to read and write on a 12th-grade level?”

 “Yes, sir,” Bowden replied, clearly this time.

 “Do you understand after a plea of guilty your rights are limited?” Ammons also asked among his series of questions to the defendant.


 “Are you, in fact, guilty?” Ammons questioned him.

 A long pause followed.

 “Yes, sir,” Bowden finally answered.

 “Do you now accept this plea arrangement?”

 “Yes, sir.”

Victim speaks in court

The youngest of Bowden’s victims was 15 at the time and sleeping in bed when she was assaulted.

"My room was my safe haven," she told the court. "Darold Wayne Bowden violated it. A terrified child is no match for a grown man."

She recalled that she was having her period when she was raped. That didn't stop him, she said.

"I just wanted to make it out alive," she said.

Afterward, she said she worried that Bowden would be waiting for her outside if she tried to run for help.

"I was afraid a faceless man would be there to finish me off," she said.

The nightmare did not end there.

Over a period of time, the victim said she began to resent her body because she felt she did not do enough to ward off her assailant. She began to self-harm, cutting and punishing her body. She said she initiated a relationship where the man was physically abusive to her.

"I've suffered half my life," she said, "at the hands of Darold Bowden."

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, 'Ramsey Street rapist, ' plea agreement, Darold Bowden, Cumberland County Superior Court, victims