PD: Man killed grandmother over curfew, rent

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Goodyear man accused of killing his grandmother reportedly did so because he was upset about his curfew and the amount of money his grandmother was charging him for rent.

According to police, 40-year-old Jason Howell told them that he decided to kill 78-year-old Helen Jean Lee because her curfew rules were too strict and she was asking too much for rent.

Howell also admitted that he was mad because Lee had broken the garage door.

Police documents state that officers responded to their home near Litchfield Road and McDowell on Oct. 30 after an individual said that they were concerned about the welfare of their elderly mother.

When officers arrived they discovered that the garage door was broken, noting that it appeared as if someone had driven a car through the door.

No one was home when officers responded, and Lee’s van was missing.

Later in the day, police said they were informed that Howell had told a family member that he was mad at Lee for breaking the garage door, and had smashed her head and cut her throat.

Police were unable to contact Howell or Lee, but they were able to ping Howell’s cell phone to a location just west of Gila Bend.

Investigators served a search warrant at their home on Oct. 31 and found blood inside the residence. Police said it also looked as if someone had tried to clean the home in an effort to conceal a crime.

Investigators conducted a criminal history check and discovered that Howell had been arrested on Oct. 30 by Chandler police for kidnapping, aggravated assault, possession of a stolen vehicle, and aggravated DUI.

Goodyear police discovered that Howell had stolen a vehicle that was parked outside of a Chandler elementary school and contained a 12-year-old girl.

The girl was able to escape by jumping from the vehicle. Howell was eventually arrested after a chase that included Howell ramming into several police cars.

After being arrested, Chandler police said Howell made a spontaneous statement about killing his grandmother.

While being interviewed by investigators, police said Howell again admitted to killing his grandmother.

Howell reportedly stated that he killed Lee by hitting her in the back of the head with a shovel two or three times and then cutting her throat.

Howell then disposed of Lee’s body in the desert near Gila Bend.

Howell led police to the area, where they found Lee’s decomposed body.

Police said since being arrested Howell has threatened suicide and escape multiple times.

He has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder, hindering prosecution and concealing or abandoning of a body.