Pregnant woman set on fire, shot by ex-boyfriend gives birth

WARREN, Mich. – The pregnant Detroit woman who was kidnapped, set on fire, and shot early Saturday morning has successfully given birth to a baby boy.

The woman, who Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV has identified as 22-year-old LaTonya Bowman, was due to deliver in three weeks, but went into labor at about 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon and gave birth at 4:15 a.m. Tuesday morning via an emergency C-section at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

“She has to be one of the most courageous women I have ever encountered,” said Warren Police Deputy Commissioner Louis Galasso. “She had the will and instinct to live.”

The incident took place late Saturday night after Bowman and Jamal Rogers, the baby’s father, went to a late night showing of Men in Black 3 at the Ford Drive-In Theater in Dearborn. Rogers, 22, had apparently been very upset about Bowman’s pregnancy, and did not want to have a third child with a third different woman. Rogers has two other children, ages 3 and 1.

Galasso also told the Detroit Free Press that the baby’s father admitted to the mother and to detectives that he did not want the child. “He certainly discussed not wanting to have the child, but he told his roommate to abandon the idea to harm the child,” Galasso said.

After she drove Rogers to his mother’s house on Sherman Ave. in Warren, where he also lives with his current girlfriend and an unidentified roommate, the two pulled into the garage. Before Bowman could fully step out of the car, Mathis bound her eyes, mouth, and hands with duct tape, and threw her into the backseat.

Mathis, 22, allegedly drove her to an area near the intersection of I-94 and I-75 on Detroit’s east side. Once there, she was doused with lighter fluid and set on fire – she would later tell authorities that Mathis told her “you know why this is happening.” When Bowman fell to the ground and attempted to put out the flames, she was shot once in the back.

Her attackers fled as she lay burning on the ground, apparently playing dead. “It sounds like she was still engulfed in flames when he shot her,” Galasso said. Bowman was able to put out the flames, free herself from the duct tape, and drive to a gas station a few miles away to call for help.

“Everything was bad, she was burned up,” said Mohamed Zokari, an employee at the Shell gas station on I-75 and 6 Mile where Bowman came for help and was assisted by one of his co-workers. “She was in a bad situation and he just looked out for her, gave her a T-shirt.”

Bowman’s mother arrived at the gas station and drove her to Beaumont Hospital. Bowman was being treated for burns to her face, torso, and back when she went into labor on Monday.

Mathis and Rogers were each charged with kidnapping, assault with intent to murder and conspiring to commit 1st degree murder during an arraignment from the Macomb County Jail on Tuesday. Mathis, who was on parole for concealing stolen property and resisting arrest, also faces weapons charges in the incident.

Both men have criminal histories and bail was denied for both. According to Warren Police, the two had allegedly been plotting the attack since March when Rogers had asked Mathis help him kidnap and murder Bowman.

Police also said Mathis could be seen on surveillance footage buying duct tape, rope and gloves from a local Home Depot just hours before the kidnapping. There has been no further information on Bowman’s condition or that of her baby.

Follow Jay Scott Smith on Twitter at @JayScottSmith