Brandon Howell charged with 3 counts of first-degree murder

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Kansas City, MO (KCTV) – A man previously accused in a double murder faces three counts of first-degree murder in connection with a deadly south Kansas City crime spree that left three dead and two injured.

Brandon B. Howell, 34, also faces two counts of first-degree assault and other charges. Charges are expected to come in Platte County after three guests at a Motel 6 were assaulted.

Howell, a convicted felon, used a shotgun he purchased more than five years ago.

Howell was arrested late Tuesday walking along Interstate 29 after a massive manhunt.

Howell is suspected of assaulting three Motel 6 guests after ditching an SUV stolen from the scene where three residents were fatally shot and two others were critically injured after they were nearly beaten to death.

The suspect has an extensive criminal record including first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, assault and animal abuse charges in both Kansas and Missouri. He beheaded a cat during a home invasion robbery in Johnson County. However, he has not been convicted of all of those accused crimes. He had numerous disciplinary infractions including fighting while serving prison time in Kansas.

On March 9, 2009, a Jackson County jury found Howell not guilty of those first-degree murder charges.

When he was 25 years old, Howell was charged with two counts of first-degree murder stemming from the deaths of Nicholas Travis, 19, of Lenexa, KS, and Tabitha Brewer, 16, of Shawnee, KS. The couple were last seen with Howell leaving her home on April 27, 1998.

Travis’ body was found in the backyard of a Kansas City, MO, duplex on Aug. 12, 1998. Howell’s father owned the duplex and Howell and Travis had both worked there, according to a detective’s probable cause statement. Brewer’s body has never been found.

Three witnesses told authorities that Howell had confessed to killing the couple or had discussed a plan to kill them, according to the statement. The motive may have been a $40,000 settlement that Brewer had received after a car accident, although she was unable to access the money because it was in a trust fund, the statement said.

Then Jackson County Prosecutor Michael Sanders said the charges were made possible by “good, old-fashioned police work,” rather than DNA matching.

Howell was incarcerated at the time at the Lansing Correctional Facility on robbery and assault charges. He was later acquitted by a Jackson County jury.

The shooting spree in south Kansas City began about 1 p.m. Tuesday in a neighborhood on Woodbridge Lane just east of Wornall Road near the Blue Hills Country Club.

The suspect was attempting to steal a Jaguar from the Hurst residence but was having difficulty fleeing in it. One of the victims was shot after confronting the suspect.

The five were found either inside or outside three separate residences. Responding officers and residents were warned the suspect was armed with a shotgun.

The three shooting victims died at the scene. Two other victims were taken to area hospitals with life-threatening injuries. The three dead included one man and two women, police said.

Lorene Hurst was killed along with her son, Darrel, who was making one of his frequent visits to his mother when the tragic events unfolded. Also killed was Susan Choucroun, 69.

Howell was arrested shortly before midnight Tuesday as he walked along Interstate 29 near 72nd Street in the Northland. He was armed with a gun at the time of his arrest, police said.

His arrest occurred about two miles from a Motel 6, 8230 NW Prairie View Rd., where three people had been assaulted about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. No weapon was used, police said, and the victims were not seriously injured.

Investigators later linked Howell to the deadly shooting spree in south Kansas City.

An SUV taken from the homicide scene was found within four blocks of the motel where the assaults occurred, police said.

When officers arrived, they located Howell in dark clothing. He was later identified as the suspect from the earlier assaults at a nearby motel.

By DeAnn Smith

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