Son killed mother in ‘fit of anger, in­san­ity’

Howard found guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in 2007 beat­ing death

Ottawa Citizen - - City - BY TONY LO­FARO

An Ottawa man was found guilty yes­ter­day of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der for the bru­tal slay­ing of his mother in their west­side home.

Aaron Howard was orig­i­nally charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the June 2007 death of Deb­o­rah Frankel-Howard, his adop­tive mother. The Crown was not able to prove the killing was pre­med­i­tated and Jus­tice Lynn Ra­tushny found the man, who was 19 years old at the time of the in­ci­dent, guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.

The young man sat ex­pres­sion­less in the court­room and barely re­acted when the ver­dict was read.

On June 15, 2007, Ms. FrankelHow­ard, a 61-year-old who had worked for many years for Health Canada, was found dead inside her Gage Cres­cent home af­ter fam­ily and neigh­bours re­al­ized they had not seen her in sev­eral days.

The court had heard that Mr. Howard had ar­gued with his mother of­ten. Then, in a rage one day, he blud­geoned her re­peat­edly with a lead gas pipe.

Mr. Howard re­vealed in his diary, which was part of a state­ment of facts sub­mit­ted to the court, that “some­thing in my head snapped and I lost all con­trol” and that “in a fit of anger and in­san­ity I bru­tally mur­dered my mother.”

He ad­mit­ted that he had thought about killing her “for awhile,” but never be­lieved he could ac­tu­ally go ahead with it.

He then car­ried her body to a cold stor­age room in the base­ment and left her there for a week with the air-con­di­tion­ing run­ning in the house. When his girl­friend, Lau­rie Vi­dler, came over, she no­ticed stains on the car­pet lead­ing to the base­ment, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment she gave po­lice. Mr. Howard told her the fam­ily dog had killed an an­i­mal and had dragged it into the base­ment.

Also dur­ing this time, Mr. Howard be­gan what he de­scribed in his diary as “an orgy of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.”

Mr. Howard fled Ottawa af­ter the killing, al­though he found time to up­date his Face­book profile — chang­ing his sta­tus from “sin­gle” to “in a re­la­tion­ship” — and to buy a pel­let-gun replica of a Walther semi-au­to­matic pis­tol.

When Ottawa po­lice en­tered the fam­ily home in the Bel-Air Heights neigh­bour­hood, north of Base­line Road, they found Ms. Frankel-Howard’s body on the floor be­tween a freezer and a shelv­ing unit.

A Canada-wide ar­rest war­rant was is­sued by Ottawa po­lice and the RCMP.

How­ever, the search was slowed when po­lice re­leased a sur­veil­lance-cam­era im­age sup­pos­edly of Mr. Howard and an uniden­ti­fied wo­man in the Ottawa bus sta­tion. As it turned out, that while the man in the im­age had dread­locks and dark skin like Mr. Howard’s, po­lice later said that nei­ther per­son in the grainy cam­era photo had any­thing to do with the case.

Mr. Howard even­tu­ally turned him­self in at the RCMP de­tach­ment in Crys­tal City, Man., and was es­corted back to Ottawa.

In his diary, he wrote of his girl­friend: “I was hop­ing we could be like Bon­nie and Clyde, but she wouldn’t have un­der­stood. I’m fly­ing away from her too.

“If all had gone to plan, (sic) I would have dis­creetly driven out of the city in a car bought with cash. But as they say, no plan sur­vives …”

Mr. Howard, who is orig­i­nally from Wash­ing­ton. D.C., was adopted when he was three months old by Ms. FrankelHow­ard and Paul Howard. The cou­ple sep­a­rated in 1996. Be­fore mov­ing to the Bel-Air Heights neigh­bour­hood, the fam­ily lived in Cen­tre­town and the young Mr. Howard was de­scribed as a “tal­ented base­ball player” by of­fi­cials from the Glebe Lit­tle League.

He usu­ally played sec­ond base, or in the out­field. Ms. Frankel-Howard re­port­edly at­tended al­most all of his games.

A sen­tenc­ing hear­ing is sched­uled for May 2.

JEAN LEVAC, THE OTTAWA CIT­I­ZEN

Aaron Howard, shown in a file photo, sat ex­pres­sion­less in court yes­ter­day, barely re­act­ing when the guilty ver­dict was read.

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