THE NEW YORKER, SEPTEMBER 6, 2010 37
another coma, and was readmitted. Afteran extensive workup, the endocrinolo-gists consulting on the case came tothink that Annette might have an insu-linoma, a rare neuroendocrine tumor,but a pathology report later revealed nosign of one, and her condition, oncemore, had stabilized. About a week aftershe was discharged again, Annette’ssymptoms returned.
Andrew Bowers is a genial,dark-haired man in his mid-forties, with the tired eyes andthe slightly doughy skin of someone who has spent toomuch time indoors. “Annette was scared,” he says. She hadlapsed into two comas in ninedays, and no one could tell her why. At the time, Bowers wasonly three years out of training.“I was feeling insecure about what was going on,” he says. “I was thinking, Is there anythingthat I’m missing?” His insecu-rity colored his interactions with Colin Bouwer, who, ashead of the Department of Psy-chological Medicine, was sev-eral notches higher than Bow-ers in the academic hierarchy.
Annette was discharged forthe third time, on ChristmasEve. Early on the morning of January 5, 2000, Bowers got acall at home. “Annette is dead,”Bouwer told him. He asked theinternist to come to his houseand sign the death certiﬁcate. This was an unusual request.Signing a death certiﬁcate isnormally a job for the patient’s generalpractitioner, not a hospital consultant. When Bowers arrived, it was clear thatAnnette had not died peacefully. Thebedroom was a mess, and Annette’s body was splayed across the bed. The bed-clothes were soiled with vomit. Bowerssuspected that she had undergone a sei-zure. Yet Bouwer said that he had no-ticed nothing out of the ordinary until hefound Annette dead early that morning.“We slept in diﬀerent rooms,” Bouwerlater explained to the police.Bowers wanted to order a postmortemexam to ﬁnd out why Annette had died sounexpectedly, but Bouwer objected. Bothhe and Annette were Jewish, he said, and,according to Jewish law, Annette’s body had to be buried within forty-eight hours.Bowers oﬀered to have the postmortemdone right away, but the psychiatrist stillresisted. It was only when Bowers refusedto sign the death certiﬁcate without apostmortem that he relented. Bowers at-tended Annette’s funeral, the following week, and he was surprised to ﬁnd thatthe ceremony was not Jewish. It was con-ducted by an Anglican priest, HeleneMann, and at one point Annette’s closestfriend, a South African expatriate living inAuckland, spoke movingly about the faithin Jesus that she and Annette shared.Later, Annette’s body was cremated.Bowers was not the only person puz-zled by Bouwer’s behavior. The ReverendMann prepared for a number of funeralsthat week, but says that her visit to theBouwer house was unlike anything shehad ever experienced. “It felt like a chem-istry laboratory,” she says. “Sterile, as if ithad been disinfected.” Mann usually talksto the children of the deceased, becausethey often have stories that she can use inher eulogy. But, when she tried talking toColin and Annette’s two teen-age chil-dren, Greg and Anthea, they sat silently
Dr. Colin Bouwer dazzled and deceived his colleagues with ease.
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on the couch, unresponsive, while Bou- wer did all the talking. He also made anunusual choice of music for the funeral,Mann says—not a hymn, or anything thatAnnette was especially fond of, but a songabout going over a cliﬀ.
For Andrew Bowers, the mostalarming sign came on the morning of Annette’s death. Dr. Anne Walsh, oneof Bouwer’s colleagues in the Depart-ment of PsychologicalMedicine, was at thehouse when Bowers ar-rived. Bowers wondered what she was doing thereso early in the morning.As he was leaving thehouse, he later testiﬁed, Walsh pulled him asideand said, “It will be goodto get all this settled, espe-cially since Annette hadaccused Colin of trying tomurder her.”
n most medical schools,it is not hardto identify the stars, thecharismatic ﬁgures whosecharm and enthusiasmdraw in students and resi-dents. It’s not just thatthey radiate energy andexcitement about their work; it’s that the excite-ment seemingly extends to you, personally. ColinBouwer was this sort of ﬁgure. “He was a brilliantdoctor,” a former patientsays. “He had this way of embracing his patients. He made mefeel important.” The psychiatric resi-dents (or “registrars,” as they are knownin New Zealand) found him dazzling.“He made each one feel they had somespecial knowledge or intelligence that was not being recognized or put to fulluse,” Dr. Jubilee Rajiah, a Dunedin psy-chiatrist who trained in Bouwer’s de-partment, says.Bouwer was born in Bloemfontein,South Africa, in 1950. He graduatedfrom medical school at Pretoria Univer-sity in 1975, and spent a number of years in South Africa as a general prac-titioner. At a meeting of Mensa, thehigh-I.Q. society, he met AnnetteLangford, who was then working as a