Ashley Garth walk

(NCE PHOTO/GREGORY MYERS)

Ashley Garth is shown Dec. 18 being escorted to the Newton County Superior Court.

KENTLAND – One of the two individuals who have been charged with homicide in the death of Nicole Bowen, whose body was found in March 2019, in a hunting shack, is out on bail.

Ashley Garth, of Delphi, was released from the Newton County Jail on May 7 after a $50,000 surety bond was made by a bail bondsman.

Garth was arrested April 6, 2019, on an original charge of assisting a criminal related to the death of Bowen. However, that charge was dismissed Nov. 18, 2019, and three new felony counts were filed against her, including murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Garth faces 45 to 65 years for the count of murder and 20 to 40 years for conspiracy.

The new charges stem from “DNA results that directly tie her to the strangulation of Nicole Bowen,” Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski said.

Drinksi said he could not comment of the evidence that led to the conspiracy charge, but according to the probable cause affidavit, Garrett Kirts, who up until Dec. 18 was the only one of the five suspects in the case to be charged with homicide, had told officers that Garth was heavily involved in the killing of Bowen, 30, of West Lafayette.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Kirts told police that Garth helped him by initiating a fight with Bowen. He told police while Garth had her arm around Bowen’s throat he also attempted to get his arm around Bowen’s neck.

According to court records, Kirts told police Garth handed him an extension cord and a scarf to tie around Bowen’s neck. Kirts also said Garth helped him wrap Bowen’s body with tape and that she tied a knot in the extension cord that she unplugged from a nearby TV. Before Garth handed it to him, court records quote her as saying, “I know you are going to need this” to Kirts.

The probable cause affidavit also details two separate interviews with Garth on April 3 and 4.

On April 3, 2019, at approximately 1:15 p.m. an interview was conducted with the Garth at the Lafayette Police Department. After receiving a Miranda Warnings waiver, Garth said she was with Kirts in a relationship, and Bowen was a rival and enemy because she was the other woman in his life.

The affidavit goes on to state that an altercation/fight occurred between Garth and Bowen inside the trailer at lot 20 over that relationship with Kirts.

On April 4, 2019, an interview was conducted with Garth at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and Garth was asked what caused her to fight with Bowen, to which Garth replied, “Nicole was (sleeping with) her boyfriend Garrett.

According to the affidavit, during the course of the investigation, evidence was collected and transferred to the Indiana State Lab for DNA analysis. Of those items, one consisted of nail scrapings from Bowen of both her right and left hand.

On Dec. 16, 2019, results from the Indiana State Police Laboratory revealed that Garth was a contributor to the DNA profile of the fingernail scrapings from the victim’s left and right hands. The analysis also provided that Garth was a contributor to the DNA profile on the scarf and a tape cardboard tube collected from around Bowen’s neck.

Kirts remains in the Newton County Jail and is being held without bond.

Talitha Beckley, of Monticello, and Christopher Mathis, of Kentland, have both been charged with assisting a criminal, while Jasmine N. Parker, of Kentland, was sentenced to five years in prison by Newton County Superior Court Judge Daniel Molter on Oct. 7 after she pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal.