A woman has pleaded guilty of first degree murder in the gruesome killing of her own father two years ago and has been sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
Crystal Brook Howell, now 20 years old, admitted that she shot her father in the head while he was napping, then hid his body in a storage shed for a month, while she allowed friends to move into the house for drug parties and spent her father’s money.
Crystal’s parents had divorced five years earlier, and she had been living with her dad in his large 8-bedroom cabin in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Her father, Michael Howell, 50, was a sports editor. Her mother, Kristina Rester, said the reason Crystal wasn’t living with her is because “she couldn’t follow the rules”, had behavioral difficulties and bucked authority.
On February 24, 2014, while out with her father, Crystal, who was 17 at the time, was caught shoplifting. After the two returned home, she started plotting to kill him, and shot him once in the head as he lay napping.
Then she managed to get her father’s body into a plastic storage container inside a storage shed and covered it with a sleeping bag.
Then she proceeded to live it up, driving his car, spending his money, and installing a stripper pole in the kitchen, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones. Crystal allowed some of her friends to move in with her, and they had drug parties in the house. She told them her father had moved to Georgia and killed himself.
But on March 22, two young men staying at the house discovered her secret. Crystal was gone at the time. Her mother said her daughter had shown up at her home in Augusta, Georgia with Howell’s Land Rover and a U-Haul trailer, saying he had released her from custody and she wanted to live with her mom.
Back at her father’s house, the two men went into the storage shed to do some cleaning and move a pinball machine. They looked inside the plastic storage bin, and there was the body.
“I never want to see anything like that ever again in my life,” Anthony Talley testified. “It has ruined me.”
Crystal’s aunt, Brenda Ellis, blamed her niece’s crime on mental illness, claiming she’s really not a heinous monster.
“I can tell you there is a lot more wrong with Crystal than has come out. There have been so many issues but they have compounded by all that she has been through over the years. She’s not a heinous monster. It is a heart breaking tragedy, that’s all I know. People need to understand mental illness is serious and it can be pushed to the limit and I think this is what has happened.”
Monday, the judge sentenced Crystal to 25 years in prison before she will be eligible for parole, and added an extra five to seven years for hiding her father’s body.
She will be imprisoned at the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections, according to the Daily Mail.
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