updated 9/29/2008 3:12:59 PM ET 2008-09-29T19:12:59

A woman told police that the bodies of her two adopted daughters have been in a freezer for at least seven months in her southern Maryland home, and police discovered human remains there encased in ice, officials said Monday.

But police said they cannot be sure the remains are of the two girls, ages 9 and 11, until autopsies are performed.

Calvert County sheriff’s deputies made the discovery Saturday in Lusby, about 50 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., while they were investigating a child who had run away from the home and “showed signs of extreme abuse and neglect,” the sheriff’s department said.

The woman, 43-year-old Renee Bowman, has been arrested, and a judge has ordered her held without bond. She is charged with first-degree child abuse in connection with the runaway 7-year-old girl. The girl escaped from a locked bedroom by jumping out a second-story window, and Bowman admitted to beating her with a “hard-heeled shoe,” officials said.

Police discovered the remains in a basement freezer after going to Bowman’s home with a search warrant on the abuse investigation.

Bowman told investigators that she brought the remains with her to Lusby when she moved from Rockville, about 60 miles away, in February. Montgomery County Police Officer Melanie Brenner said authorities are investigating whether the deaths took place in Rockville.

It is not clear how the children might have died. The freezer was being transported to the medical examiner’s office in Baltimore.

Authorities said Bowman adopted three children from the District of Columbia. Besides the 7-year-old, the other children would now be 9 and 11, and officials said their whereabouts are currently unknown.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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