Wednesday, August 29, 2012
After shooting in Carrollton, husband in custody for allegedly hiring hit man
The shooting was not included in police reports, curiously.
CARROLLTON The mysterious shooting that occurred in Carrollton at 7:52 p.m. August 18 on Bluebonnet Way didn't appear in police reports. When residents of the city began reaching out to local news media, the only information that was given by police was that a woman in her 50s was shot in the face and taken to an area hospital.
But now, as the Carrollton Police Department continues its investigation of the shooting, it has announced that John Franklin Howard has been taken into custody and charged with criminal solicitation. Jon Stovall, public information officer for the Carrollton Police Department, said the charge could indicate that John Howard hired a hit man to kill the woman who was shot in the incident, later revealed to be his wife, Nancy Howard.
According to the arrest warrant, police were dispatched to the residence on Bluebonnet Way in regard to a shooting. Upon arrival, officers found Nancy Howard, who had suffered a gunshot wound to the face. Nancy Howard told police that she was confronted in the garage by an unknown white male in his early 20s when she arrived home on the night of the incident. The suspect was wearing a black baseball hat, black rimmed glasses, and put a silver handgun to Nancy Howard's head, the warrant states.
Nancy told police she followed the suspect's orders and gave him her purse. She was then shot in the face and was injured seriously as a result of the gunshot wound, which included the loss of her eye. The suspect fled the scene immediately after the shooting.
"[The bullet] traveled down through her head, neck and into her lungs," Stovall said. "She was immediately taken to the hospital for serious trauma."
A vehicle was pulled over in the 3500 block of Standridge Drive in Carrollton on July 13. The driver of the vehicle was Van, Texas, resident Dustin Hiroms and the passenger of the vehicle was Jason Rendine. Hiroms told officers he was in the area to collect money from his uncle who lives on Bluebonnet Way.
After being questioned by officers, however, Hiroms said the man they were seeing was not actually his uncle but an investor who Hiroms said left money for him at the fifth house on the north side of the street. According to the affidavit, just prior to Hiroms's arrest, he admitted that he was working for a man named John as a hit man.
Detective Michael Wall, who arrested Hiroms, noted that the fifth house on the street was Howards' residence.
Carrollton officers received a tip from the Van Police Department, that Rendine was talking about a "hit" that was to take place in Carrollton. According to a Van police officer, Hiroms was hired to "get rid of" the wife of an unknown man who lives in Carrollton.
On August 22, Rendine and his wife, Stephanie Delacerda, were arrested in Louisiana for unrelated drug charges, and it was found that Delacerda was in possession of $14,900. Detectives said Delacerda admitted to having a business relationship with John Howard and that Howard had paid Delacerda approximately $35,000 for a business transaction. Delacerda later told detectives that the $35,000 was not a result of a business transaction but was compensation for "sexual contacts" with John Howard.
When news reports first surfaced of the shooting, Carrollton police were contacted by Billie Johnson, Hiroms's stepfather, who was incarcerated at the Denton County Jail at the time of Hiroms's arrest. Johnson told officers he had information regarding the shooting of Nancy Howard.
"Approximately three years ago," the affidavit stated, "Johnson was contacted by John Frank [sic] Howard who wanted to pay him to have his wife killed ... Johnson advised that over the past three years he has had numerous contacts and conversations with Howard regarding the contract killing of his wife."
On August 24, Wall received a report from the FBI that Hiroms's mother, Stacey Serenko, informed police that John Howard had contacted Billie Johnson to kill his wife. Howard stressed that the murder had to look like an accident.
Serenko said that Howard first made contact with both Johnson and Serenko in March 2009, paying them approximately $85,000, Howard also provided photos of his wife as well as her schedule. He set up a telephone account that was used as their main means of communication and, Serenko said in the affidavit, they would usually meet at the Whataburger at Old Denton Road and George Bush on a monthly basis.
According to the affidavit, ideas on how to kill Nancy Howard were discussed at these meetings. Serenko advised Howard to send the money to her mother, Barbara Hiroms. The money would then be wired to a bail bondsman.
Wall obtained an arrest warrant for Hiroms on August 24, for aggravated assault of Nancy Howard. He was shown a photograph of John Howard and confirmed that he had been contacted by John Howard to kill his wife. He also told police that he had met with John Howard on several occasions and was given approximately $80,000.
Hiroms told police that John Howard wanted him to kill Nancy while she was staying at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. John Howard told Hiroms that a gunshot would draw too much attention and that he would prefer Hiroms make it look like an accident by killing her with a knife or a bat. Hiroms received an additional $41,500.
The Carrollton Police Department is also in possession of a cell phone picture of John Howard during one of the conversations with the suspected hit man.
According to the affidavit, Wall believes John Franklin Howard requested Billie Johnson and Dustin Hiroms "engage in specific conduct that under the circumstances would constitute criminal solicitation of capital murder, making him party to that offense" according to Texas law.
Stovall said the department isn't trying to hide anything from the public or media by not listing the shooting on police reports or by declining to provide any other information.
"Think of what we are doing; our priority has to be the case," he said. "We have to prosecute this case, arrest those that need to be arrested, gather the evidence we need to gather and if information gets out that could harm the case -- or worse -- it could put our people in jeopardy, too."
More information will be released when the department releases new details, which Stovall said could be the end of the week.
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