Family of Nicole Goodlett releases statement on murder arrest 4 - FOX Carolina 21

Family of Nicole Goodlett releases statement on murder arrest 4 years after her death

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Nicole Goodlett, missing from Spartanburg since 2014. (Source: Family) Nicole Goodlett, missing from Spartanburg since 2014. (Source: Family)
Jerald Howard (Source: Berkeley Co. Sheriff's Office) Jerald Howard (Source: Berkeley Co. Sheriff's Office)
Jerald Jermaine Howard. (Source: SCSO) Jerald Jermaine Howard. (Source: SCSO)

The man who deputies said was a person of interest in the 2014 disappearance of a Spartanburg woman has been charged with murder.

Deputies confirm Jerald Jermaine Howard, 36, was arrested on Monday on a warrant issued by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office. The warrant stems from an investigation worked jointly with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office.

According to deputies, Howard was connected with the disappearance of missing Spartanburg woman Nicole Goodlett.

Goodlett, 28, was first reported missing in March 2014. Later that year, investigators announced they thought she was the victim of foul play. In 2015, deputies say they discovered her partially-burned skull behind Cainhoy Elementary and Middle School in Berkeley County.

Investigators said Goodlett and Howard were in a relationship while he was separated from his estranged wife.

According to an affidavit, when a search warrant was executed at the victim's home in 2014, deputies found signs of a struggle including gouges in the wall, pieces of sheet rock on the floor, and visible blood on the back of the bedroom door and vanity.

During a forensic examination of Howard's phone in 2014, authorities said they found searches for "Can you identify a burned body," "How authorities identify a burned body," and "Burned body cases solvable challenge for investigators."

The affidavit states that Goodlett was killed between Feb. 17 and Feb. 23, 2014.

Witnesses told authorities that on Feb. 22, Howard dropped off the twins he fathered with Goodlett at his parents' house without warning. He was driving a rental car at the time, deputies said.

The school where her skull was found is the school Howard attended as a child and is located less than two miles from his parents' house, investigators said.

On Feb. 23, Goodlett's cell phone was pinged at the Verizon tower near mile marker 212 at Interstate 26.

In the days after her disappearance, investigators said Howard tried to use Goodlett's debit card at a gas station on Blackstock Road in Spartanburg County, but the card was declined.

Investigators had previously named Howard as a person of interest in Goodlett's disappearance. Deputies said he was asked to appear for an interview in 2016 at the Sheriff's Office but he skipped it and deputies were searching for him.

Four years after Goodlett's disappearance, deputies said they located Howard and arrested him in connection with her death.

Officials say they located Howard driving a pickup truck on Crowfield Boulevard in Goose Creek on Monday. He was taken into custody without issue and booked into the Hill Finklea Detention Center.

Howard will attend a bond hearing on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Lt. Kevin Bobo with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office said the agency is thankful they've been able to give Goodlett's family the beginning of some closure. Bobo said her family has been nothing but cooperative with investigators, who have admired their resilience and patience.

Goodlett's family released the following statement on the arrest in the case:

We are pleased that charges have been filed, and an arrest has been made concerning Nicole’s case. We would like to thank the hard work of law enforcement including: Spartanburg and Berkeley County Sherriff Offices, and all other assisting agencies. We are grateful for the dedication and hard work in the investigation building this case. This is a big step forward! This was a senseless crime, and there are no words for the pain we share. We will continue to seek justice for Nicole during the long road that lies ahead.

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