LUSBY, Maryland (AP) -- A mother told police that child-sized human remains uncovered in her basement freezer were those of her two adopted daughters, and police believe that she is responsible for their deaths.
Renee Bowman, 43, told police the bodies of two of her children were in the freezer since February.
Police were investigating an abuse complaint Saturday when they discovered the remains encased in ice.
The mother told investigators that they had been in her southern Maryland home for at least seven months, and police said they are considering the case a homicide.
"We have reason to believe that's the two children in the freezer," Lt. Bobby Jones of Calvert County Sheriff's Office said Monday. "We believe that the mother, who adopted the two children, is responsible for it."
Autopsies would need to be completed before they know for sure that the remains are of the girls, who would be 9 and 11.
Deputies made the gruesome discovery in the home in Lusby, about 50 miles southeast of Washington. They were there with a search warrant to investigate the treatment of a girl who had run away and "showed signs of extreme abuse and neglect," the sheriff's department said.
The girl's mother, 43-year-old Renee Bowman, has been arrested, and a judge has ordered her held without bail.
She is charged with first-degree child abuse in the beating of the runaway 7-year-old, who was found wandering in the neighborhood wearing only a blood- and feces-soaked T-shirt.
The girl escaped from a locked bedroom by jumping out a second-story window, and Bowman admitted beating her with a "hard-heeled shoe," officials said.
Bowman told detectives that she brought the remains in the freezer with her to Lusby when she moved from Rockville, about 60 miles away, in February. Montgomery County Police are investigating whether the deaths took place in Rockville. Bowman has not been charged in the older girls' deaths.
It is not clear how the children might have died. The medical examiner's office in Baltimore was to examine the freezer and its contents. It was unclear how long it would take for autopsies to be completed.
Authorities said Bowman adopted three children from the District of Columbia. Officials said the older girls' whereabouts are unknown. Montgomery County Police said detectives are trying to pin down when the older girls were last seen alive, as well as where the family was living and when.
According to charging documents drawn up before the remains were discovered, the 7-year-old went door-to-door looking for help after jumping from the window Friday night. A neighbor gave her clothes and called 911.
The girl had open sores and lesions on her buttocks and lower thighs, marks on her neck made by a cord, rope or other item and bruises on her hands and lips. She told investigators her mother caused the injuries and that she jumped out the window to "free herself from her mother's relentless beatings," according to the documents. She is being cared for by child protective services.
No one was home when authorities arrived at the modest single-story house in the secluded, heavily wooded subdivision with narrow gravel roads. Bowman showed up later at the sheriff's office and said she had locked her daughter in the girl's bedroom while she went to D.C.
Bowman told the deputy who interviewed her about the 7-year-old's abuse "that she knew what she did was wrong," according to the charging documents. "She advised [Bowman] was out of control and needed help."
Sheriff Mike Evans said the surviving girl was never enrolled in Calvert County Schools. He said that neighbors had seen her and that no trouble had ever been reported at the house. Bowman's only contact with the sheriff's department since she arrived was a traffic stop.
No attorney had entered an appearance on Bowman's behalf Monday afternoon. Dorothy Hodge, deputy district public defender for Calvert County, said an attorney from the office would interview Bowman to determine whether she wanted to be represented.