Teen confesses to shooting her father
Search warrants reveal that 17-year-old Crystal Howell confessed to murdering her father, 50-year-old Michael Howell, about a month ago at their home in the Sheepback Mountain community in Maggie Valley.
His body was discovered by two of Crystal Howell's friends, stuffed in a blue plastic tub in a storage building adjacent to the home on March 22.
According to the warrants, one of Howell's friends told her mother that Michael Howell had given his daughter the keys to his car and his credit cards and informed her that she needed to "find somewhere to stay for a few months because he needed to go out of town."
The friend's mother told police that Howell spent several nights at her home and on Jan. 14, she said Howell received a phone call from someone telling her that her father committed suicide.
Crystal Howell and two friends decided to stay in the eight-bedroom log cabin owned by Michael Howell and rent out rooms to pay for utilities, according to the warrant.
While friends helped to sort through some of her belongings, Crystal Howell would not allow anyone inside the storage shed adjacent to the house.
Crystal Howell went to Georgia on March 21 in her father's SUV, telling her friends that she intended to go stay with her mother until she turned 18. She asked her friends to stay at the cabin to continue paying the bills.
Friends returned to the house to continue sorting through the belongings on March 22. According to warrants, when two of Crystal Howell's male friends moved a pinball machine into the storage shed, they made a gruesome discovery. Underneath a sleeping bag was a blue storage tote containing the remains of her father.
As detectives began their investigation, they found no public record of Michael Howell's death or any indication that there had been a funeral, which raised suspicion.
Howell was located and arrested at a Motel 6 in Richmond County, Georgia on March 23 and confessed to shooting her father in the head with a shotgun during an interview with detectives that day. According to warrants, she told detectives she threw the fired shotgun shell away and left the clothing she was wearing at the house. Warrants do not reveal a motive in the murder.
According to Howell's Facebook page, she threw a party at her home just two weeks after the murder. On March 5, she posted that she was in search of more roommates to rent the remaining rooms in the house.
Howell is currently in custody in Richmond County, Georgia, where she is awaiting extradition proceedings.