The 17-year-old daughter of former Columbia County News-Times sports editor Mike Howell, 50, is being held in the Richmond County jail, awaiting extradition to Nortn Carolina to face charges in her father’s slaying.
Crystal Brooke Howell, of Maggie Valley, N.C., was being held Monday at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center for North Carolina authorities, according to Richmond County jail records. She will remain in jail pending extradition proceedings. A hearing is set for Wednesday at 2 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Stephen Shepard, court officials said.
In a news release on Monday, the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office announced that it has charged Howell with first-degree murder. She was arrested Sunday on an initial warrant charging her with concealing the death of her father, according to the statement. Richmond County sheriff’s capt. Calvin Chew said Howell was taken into custody at the Motel 6 on Boy Scout Road.
North Carolina authorities began their investigation after her father, was found dead at his rental property where his daughter lived, in the Sheepback Mountain community near Maggie Valley on Saturday
Preliminary autopsy results show that he died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
The sheriff’s offices in Richmond and Columbia counties assisted the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, the Waynesville Police Department, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Maggie Valley Fire Department on the case.
Mike Howell covered sports for the News-Times from March 1997 to April 2004 and was the recipient of several sportswriting awards.
Barry Paschal, the former News-Times publisher, remembered Howell as a "gifted, if mercurial, writer" who was devoted to covering prep sports.
"He was highly respected for fairness tempered with an understanding that the athletes he wrote about were still young and needed not only coverage but also encouragement," Paschal said. "For that reason, he started the very popular Athlete Spotlight weekly feature to highlight some of Columbia County's participants in a variety of sports."
Paschal also noted that Howell faced some tough times in his personal life, including the deaths of his grandparents and his mother within a short time period, followed by a difficult divorce.
"I had hoped he'd found a more peaceful life in North Carolina, and I'm very sad to hear that his life has instead ended so tragically," he said.
Funeral arrangements for Howell were not complete on Tuesday.