Ilene Gowan’s daughter reported her missing to the Council Bluffs Police Department on Feb. 15 after not hearing from her or seeing her since Feb. 13. Several days later, on Feb. 26, police found Gowan’s body in a ditch near Crescent, Iowa. About three months later, on May 23, Council Bluffs Police arrested Ivan Brammer on charges of abuse of a corpse and second-degree theft.
KETV-TV reports Council Bluffs Police Sgt. John Focht said regarding the undetermined cause of death, "When we get an inconclusive result like that, we’re not able to charge a homicide."
The police department, however, worked with a pathologist in New York, who conducted a second autopsy. He concluded Gowan died from asphyxiation.
Focht told KETV, "With this second opinion autopsy, we felt comfortable in being able to charge the offender with murder second."
According to Brammer’s affidavit, Gowan and Brammer lived together, but she was kicked out their apartment about a week before she disappeared. He allegedly held onto her safe and said he would give it back to her when she paid him $300. Her safe contained $1,500, and she gave it to someone else to hold onto when she got back.
The two were described as having a "volatile" relationship that was "on and off."
Gowan was reportedly last seen with Brammer on Feb. 13 in his Ford F-150. The affidavit says the temperature that day was "well above freezing," but the weather changed drastically the next night when it started snowing.
That morning, video evidence from the area shows the pair driving in his truck. At first, Gowan appears "normal in all respects and uninjured sitting upright on the passenger side of Brammer’s truck."
About an hour later, video shows "something is different with the way Gowan is sitting or positioned in his truck. At multiple intersections with different angles and views, it appears Gowan is awkwardly slumped in the passenger seat."
Her body position did not change for the rest of the drive. Later that morning, Gowan was "no longer visible in the truck."
The affidavit says Gowan sustained multiple injuries to her body, including contusions on her legs, arm, and wrists, an L-shaped laceration on her head, and a mark on the left side of her neck. The assistant state medical examiner, Dr. Kelly Kruse, said the head injuries "would have been so severe as to have caused her death."
Police thought the mark on her neck was from a ligature, but the assistant medical examiner disagreed. The Council Bluffs Police detective asked Kruse if Gowan could have died from asphyxia, and Kruse said she "could not rule this out as a possibility."
According to the affidavit, "Another possibility Dr. Kruse could not rule out was death by blood loss, as due to decomposition, she could not say how much blood was in her body."
Gowan was found wearing the same clothes as the day she went missing.