Son killed mother in ‘fit of anger, insanity’
Howard found guilty of second-degree murder in 2007 beating death
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.
Aaron Howard, shown in a file photo, sat expressionless in court yesterday, barely reacting when the guilty verdict was read.