Daughter sentenced after murdering father, spending his money, hosting house parties

Published: Oct. 12, 2016 at 2:33 PM EDT
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Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A woman has been sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison for the murder of her father back in 2014.

On Feb. 24, 2014, Crystal Brooke Howell of Maggie Valley, North Carolina murdered her father Michael Howell. After shooting him in the head with a shotgun while he napped, she hid his body for a month inside a plastic container in the family's storage shed, according to North Carolina's District Attorney's Office.

About a month later, authorities were called to the home after guests found his body. A day later, on March 23, Crystal Howell was arrested in Richmond County with her father's Land Rover and a U-Haul trailer full of items.

According to an autopsy report, Howell died from a single shotgun wound to the head. He was a sports editor for the Columbia County News-Times when he lived in the area.

Crystal Howell had previously told her friends that her father had killed himself, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones.

She had her friends move in, had a drug-fueled party, and even had a stripper pole installed in the kitchen, Jones said.

Crystal Howell, now 20, pleaded guilty to first degree murder and concealing a death/failing to report a death not from natural causes on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. She received 60 to 84 months in prison for the second charge, followed by a minimum of 25 additional years for the murder charge before she can apply for a parole hearing, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Howell's attorney, Bridgett Aguirre, said Howell had a mental health history. However, the State countered that Howell was able to plan her crime and then cover it up for over a month.

Howell will be transferred to the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections to begin her sentence.