The Hippocratic Oath clearly states that a doctor must abide by the idea that he or she “will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm.” J. Milton Bowers must have overlooked this section. The so-called “ladies’ man” murdered three of his four wives. After serving only four years in prison for his crimes, Dr. Bowers returned to his practice as if nothing ever happened.
In one case of uxoricide, Bowers pumped his wife up with so much phosphorus that she could glow in the dark. Cecelia remained the last of Bower’s trail of forced deaths. The mysterious nature behind the slayings brought the streets of San Francisco a new murderer in the 19th century.
In the longest trial in San Francisco history, the jury stated in just over half an hour, that Bowers committed first-degree murder. Bowers even had enough time to marry again after his four year stint behind bars.
Bowers represents the slow and methodical murderer. As one of the pillars of the community, who would suspect him of committing these crimes? He did his worst and showed himself to be a messenger of death. His trail of bodies extended to the women whom he allegedly loved. This twisted murderer used emotion as his guide instead of reason. Someone who studied medicine and whose work it was to treat and help people went astray. Instead, Bowers slayed his wives and allegedly killed his brother-in-law.
Bowers stood in a position to be hanged but escaped that fate after leaving prison. He would go on to live a much quieter life with his fourth wife before he suffered a stroke and died. At least one of his wives survived the doctor’s deadly hands.
Everything about this case concerns feelings over thought. If Bowers had been a rational man, no murders would’ve taken place. His split mind akin to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde showed affection for his spouses but also led to his monstrous actions. He held within himself no attachment with reality. Not only that he could get away with murder (which he didn’t) but the fact that he would kill demonstrates a demented person.
The way that Bowers could woo his wives could brand him as the black widower. He wished and hoped instead of thought and considered. He wished that his wives could taste death and hoped that he could evade the law. Dr. Bowers planned to go away unscathed. The clutches of justice grabbed him, however.
His irrationalism stemming from his psyche disallowed him to see clearly the reality of the situation. The irony of the fact that a doctor would destroy these lives shows how anyone is capable of throwing away reason.
And the man had a purpose. Dr. Bowers had a legitimate practice before his wives’ murders. He went into his office with the knowledge and understanding that it takes to be a physician. Somewhere along the line he cast all rational thinking to the side. He, rather than helping his patients, dispatched them with pain, suffering and death.
As far as murderers go, Dr. Bowers ranks up with the intellectually able but morally bankrupt. His ethical compass didn’t just fall and break, he smashed it. With every ounce of his character oozing out of him to carry out these acts of initiation of force, he saw himself going against his own principles. It’s a wonder that he wasn’t stripped of his credentials and ability to practice medicine following his time in jail.
By not recognizing that what he did included some of the most heinous crimes, he evaded the responsibility of thinking. He could’ve been one of California’s greatest physicians. Instead, history will remember him for his vicious ways. The bizarre cases surrounding his name will forever be etched into the minds of anyone who comes across his story.
To say that Dr. Bowers had just experienced some message from the unknown and unknowable would undercut the fact that this man was a beast who deserved a much more stringent sentence.
Three women laid murdered and a man whose suicide is almost completely tied to Dr. Bowers, all resulted because of the lack of cognitive exercise. If only Dr. Bowers would have heeded the Hippocratic Oath, his memory would be much more admirable.