Crystal Brooke Howell was seventeen years old when she murdered her father in North Carolina. According to court documents Crystal Howell would fatally shoot her father who was sleeping on the couch. The teen killer would then conceal his body and threw parties in the home until his body would be discovered. Crystal Brooke Howell was sentenced to life in prison
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A Maggie Valley woman charged with killing her father in 2014 pleaded guilty Monday in Haywood County Superior Court.
Crystal Brooke Howell, 20, appeared in court, where she was convicted of first-degree murder and concealment of death and failure to report a death not from natural causes, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
She received 60 to 84 months in prison for the second charge, followed by a minimum of 25 additional years for the murder charge before she can apply for a
Howell shot her father, Michael Joseph Howell, 50, in the head with a shotgun while he was napping on Feb. 24, 2014. Michael Howell’s body was found by house guests about a month later on the family’s property in the Sheepback Mountain community near Maggie Valley.
His body had been placed inside a plastic container in the family’s storage shed.
Crystal Howell fled the state after she hid her father’s body and was found in Richmond County, Georgia. She was in possession of her father’s Land Rover and a U-Haul trailer full of items.
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A young woman was sentenced to 30 years in prison after admitting she fatally shot her dad in their North Carolina home and hid his body in a shed for a month, during which time she drove his car and spent his money.
Crystal Brooke Howell, 20, pleaded guilty in Haywood County Court on Monday to concealing a death/failing to report a death not from natural causes and first-degree murder in the February 2014 killing of her father, sports editor Michael Howell, 50.
After shooting her dad in the head with a shotgun as he napped, the then-17-year-old girl hid his body inside a plastic container in the family’s storage shed on their Maggie Valley property and sold the shotgun used in the murder, officials said.
The teen then told friends her father had committed suicide and invited them to live in his home while she drove around in his car and burned through his cash, authorities said.
“She had her friends move in, had a drug-fueled party, and even had a stripper pole installed in the kitchen,” Haywood County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones said in a press release obtained by The Huffington Post.
Her friends discovered her father’s body on March 22, 2014 when they were moving a pinball machine into the shed, according to reports.
That same day, Howell showed up at the home of her mother, Kristina Rester, in Augusta, Georgia, with her father’s car and a U-Haul trailer filled with her belongings. She had asked Rester three days earlier if she could move back in with her, saying her father had released her from his custody, authorities said.
She was arrested the next day in Augusta at a Motel 6.
Prosecutors said Howell had thought about killing her father before pulling the trigger.
“The evidence in this case is that Miss Howell, who had just been caught shoplifting at Ingles by her father that day, came home and thought about killing her dad while she showered,” Jones said, according to WYFF. “Afterwards, she executed him while he slept on the couch.”
Howell’s attorney said her client had a history of mental health issues.
“I can tell you there is a lot more wrong with Crystal than has come out,” Howell’s aunt, Brenda Ellis, told the Columbia County News-Times, where Michael Howell served as a sports editor.
“There have been so many issues but they have compounded by all that she has been through over the years. She’s not a heinous monster. It is a heartbreaking tragedy, that’s all I know.”
But District Attorney Ashley Welch pointed to Howell’s actions as the real indicator of her motive.
“It’s shocking that a young woman kills her father,” Welch said, WYFF reported. “But the fact that Howell then began to spend her father’s money, use his house and drive his car – all after hiding his body and the evidence of her crime – that’s the motive. She wanted to live on her terms at the expense of Michael Howell’s life. It’s very sad.”
Howell will serve her sentence at the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.
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The 17-year-old suspect arrested in a North Carolina homicide told investigators she killed her father sometime last month, according to a search warrant affidavit filed this week.
Crystal Brooke Howell was interviewed Sunday at the Richmond County jail by two investigators from North Carolina – a detective with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, according to the warrant issued Tuesday.
“During the course of the interview, Crystal Howell stated that approximately one month ago, she shot her father, Michael Howell, in the head with a shotgun. She stated that sometime afterward she threw the fired shotgun shell in the garbage,” sheriff’s Detective Scott Robinson said in the warrant affidavit.
Crystal Howell has been in police custody since Sunday, when she was arrested at a Motel 6 on Boy Scout Road. North Carolina authorities had been seeking her since Saturday afternoon, when friends staying at her home in Maggie Valley, N.C., discovered her father’s body in a plastic tote bin inside a storage shed on the property.
According to the arrest warrant, Michael Howell had been dead since Feb. 23. Police said he died of a single gunshot to the head.
Funeral plans for Howell, a formerColumbia County News-Times sports editor, are incomplete according to his ex-wife, Kristina Rester, who is handling arrangements. Rester said the plans include cremation and a funeral in Augusta after North Carolina authorities release his body.
Rester said their daughter had called her March 19 to say her father had released her from his custody and wanted to move back to Augusta. Rester said she told her daughter she would have to provide proof of the emancipation, before she would allow it.
Nevertheless, Crystal Howell showed up at Rester’s home March 22 driving her father’s orange Land Rover and pulling a U-Haul trailer filled with her belongings. The vehicle and trailer have since been seized by investigators.
Rester said her daughter stayed only long enough to take a shower and left to meet a friend and find a place to rent.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, friends of Crystal Howell were staying at the family’s eight-bedroom cabin in the remote Sheepback Mountain community near Maggie Valley.
According to the affidavit, Crystal Howell told her friends that her father had left home in January and committed suicide in Georgia.
Sometime afterward, the friends – identified as Summer Ramsey and Elijah Damon – moved into the cabin to stay with Howell and began to go through her father’s belongings, and to “clean and organize,” according to the affidavit.
The three filled several plastic totes with belongings and began to place them in an outside storage shed.
According to a statement to police from Ramsey’s mother, “Crystal Howell moved several of the totes back to the storage shed in the last few days and the shed was locked up and the key given to Summer Ramsey. Crystal told Summer to please keep everyone out of the shed except to put more items in the shed,” the affidavit said.
About 2:30 p.m. March 22, Damon and another man, Anthony Talley, were moving a pinball machine and more plastic totes into the shed. Talley noticed a sleeping bag covering a tote and removed it, revealing Michael Howell’s body inside, the affidavit said.
When reached by phone Friday, Talley said he knew Crystal only as an acquaintance, having worked on her father’s Land Rover a few times. He confirmed that he and Damon found the body while moving items into the storage building. He said he was still shaken from what he saw in the shed, but police had asked him not to discuss details of the case.
“I never want to see anything like that ever again in my life,” Talley said. “It has ruined me.”
On Wednesday, Crystal Howell made a brief appearance in an Augusta courtroom before Judge Stephen Shepard. After learning that the defendant did not have legal counsel, Shepard chose to halt the proceeding until she had consulted an attorney.
Another hearing date was not set, court officials said.
Rester said she has spoken to her daughter since the arrest, but wasn’t privy to any details of the case. She said Crystal had lived with her ex-husband since they divorced about five years ago. She still saw her periodically and spoke to her often.
“We actually had a really good summer,” she said. “We talked about her moving back here, but before we worked out the details she decided to move back with her dad.”
Rester said her daughter had difficulties with authority and tested boundaries, which created family conflicts. Most recently, she had been arrested in North Carolina in December on a shoplifting charge, Rester said.
“The reason she wasn’t living with us was that she couldn’t follow the rules here,” she said.
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