Man accused in murder spree has extensive criminal background - FOX Carolina 21

Man accused in triple-murder spree has extensive criminal background

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The man accused of a violent Kansas City crime spree has a criminal history spanning more than 20 years.

Brandon B. Howell, 34, faces 12 felony charges in Jackson County, including three counts of first-degree murder.

He is accused in the Tuesday shooting deaths of Alice Hurst, 88; her son, Darrel Hurst, 63; and Susan Choucroun, 69. He also is accused of severely beating George and Anna Taylor, who remains in critical condition at an area hospital.

Howell was also charged in Platte County with burglary, three counts of assault and other offenses related to three assaults at a Northland Motel 6 about two hours after the shootings.

After a massive manhunt, Howell was arrested about 11 hours after the shooting walking along Interstate 29. Officers said Howell had a .12-gauge shotgun in his right pants leg. The gun was loaded with four live shells.

The shootings appeared to be random, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said.

Howell is behind held without bond. He said little during his first appearance before a judge Thursday morning as a long list of charges were read to him. A public defender is expected to be appointed to represent him.

He will be back in court on Sept. 25.

This wasn't the first time Howell has been in the Jackson County jail. He was there eight years ago, accused of a double murder in which he was acquitted. It was a crime that happened when he was 17.

Tabitha Brewer and her boyfriend, Nick Travis, were last seen April 27, 1998, with Howell.

Travis' body was found buried outside the home of Howell's father, with his blood spattered inside the home. Brewer's body was never found.

Prosecutors want justice for the victim's families. Baker broke the latest news to the Brewer and Travis families.

"It was an upsetting day, very upsetting. There's no doubt about that," Baker said.

When a jury acquitted Howell of those crimes, he was already serving a 12-year prison sentence for a kidnapping and assault at a Gardner apartment complex. Prosecutors referred to it as a "drug ripoff" in 1999 when Howell was 19.

Those court documents say, "the last known acts of the defendants at the apartment was to sever the head of the resident's pet cat."

It's the detail the prosecutor on that case remembered most clearly.

"Which is kind of a weird, scary thing, and he freaked those girls out," former Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison said.

Morrison cut a plea deal with Howell but said 12 years was a good sentence under the circumstances.

"You do the best you can, but you can't predict future behavior. The guy did a big chunk of time. That's about all you can say," Morrison said.

The Brewer family said they weren't up for talking.

Howell's juvenile record included seven crimes over five years, beginning with a weapons charge at the age of 12.

Howell's former sister-in-law, Carla Goodman, married into the family in 2007. She has some chilling thoughts on the current and past cases.

"My ex-husband, that is his brother," she said.

During her first few years of marriage, Goodman got to know Howell and his questionable past.

"I found out about the past history that was going on. I never found out if he did the Tabitha Brewer thing," she said.

Goodman, who hasn't seen Howell in years, also clued in to what could have fueled Howell to murder three people Tuesday.

"Whatever he wanted to do, he did what he wanted to do. No one ever stopped whatever he wanted to do," she said. "He never agreed with everybody. His opinion was always different."

During her years in the Howell family, Goodman said to her knowledge, Howell wasn't mentally ill.

"I wasn't thinking he was capable of doing that. I didn't think he would be that cruel of a person," she said.

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