Thursday, August 30, 2012
Alleged hit man in Carrollton shooting arrested
Other people could be involved, police said.
CARROLLTON Dustin Taylor Hiroms, the person who was allegedly paid by John Franklin Howard to murder his wife, Nancy Howard, was booked into the Denton County jail Thursday on a charge of criminal solicitation.
According to the arrest warrant, police were dispatched to the Howard residence on Bluebonnet Way in regard to a shooting at 7:52 p.m. on August 18. Upon arrival, officers found Nancy Howard, who had suffered a gunshot wound to the face. Nancy Howard told police she was confronted in the garage by an unknown white male in his early 20s when she arrived home. The suspect was wearing a black baseball hat, black-rimmed glasses and put a silver handgun to Nancy Howard's head, the warrant states.
Hiroms, 19, is being held on a $1 million bond for his alleged involvement in a failed murder-for-hire scheme.
A spokesman for the Carrollton Police Department said Hiroms is not being charged with the actual shooting of Nancy Howard, but detectives said he had been involved in some type of conversation, agreement, and exchange of money with John Howard regarding the murder of Nancy Howard.
Hiroms, accompanied by Jason Rendine, was pulled over for traffic violations in Carrollton on July 14 and was arrested for possession of methamphetamines. Before his arrest, Hiroms told Carrollton police officers he was in the city to collect money from his uncle who lives on Bluebonnet Way. After being questioned by officers, however, Hiroms confessed the two were seeing an investor named John who hired Hiroms as a hit man. He was released from the Denton County jail July 16.
Jon Stovall, public information officer for the Carrollton Police Department, said the department is still investigating the shooting and will continue to do so for some time. He did not say whether the man who actually pulled the trigger was Hiroms, but said other individuals could be involved.
"Until all of the financial transactions are reviewed, it would be mere speculation to suggest the amount of money that changed hands," Stovall said. "Again, it would be speculation to suggest a motive at this time, but the arrest affidavit alludes to a possible motive."
The affidavit stated that John Howard may have a girlfriend in California, but makes no other claims about a possible motive.
Questions are surfacing surrounding whether Carrollton PD had enough information regarding the possible "hit" on Nancy Howard before the shooting. Stovall noted that is not the case.
"Prior to the shooting, the Carrollton Police Department did not have any specific information about a particular offense or victim," he said. "We had received some general, unvetted information that we were attempting to follow up on. We did have investigators that were looking into the veracity of the statements at the time of this offense."
Within hours of the shooting, the department was developing information that implicated Howard's possible involvement in the offense, Stovall said.
"We are investigating to determine if more persons were involved," he added.
Stovall said he is not aware of Nancy Howard's current status but does not believe she has been released from the hospital.
According to the affidavit, multiple people were part of the murder-for-hire scheme including Hiroms's mother, Stacy Serenko, who informed authorities of her involvement while incarcerated in the Wood County jail for jumping bail and six counts of possession of a controlled substance. Hiroms's stepfather, Billie Johnson, who was incarcerated in the Denton County jail at the time of the murder, also told authorities of Hiroms's involvement.
Johnson was convicted on several charges, including driving without a license, possession of a controlled substance (more than 4 grams but less than 400 grams of methamphetamine with intent to deliver), bail jumping, and failure to appear.
On July 15, Carrollton police received information from the Van Police Department that Jason Rendine had been talking about a "hit" that Hiroms was involved in. According to the affidavit, Hiroms was hired to "get rid of" Nancy Howard, the wife of an unknown businessman. The Van Police Department also told Carrollton PD that Hiroms had recently received $30,000 from the John Howard.
Detective Michael Wall confirmed that Rendine and his wife Stephanie Delacerda were living in Bossier City, La., and on August 22 were arrested for unrelated drug charges. Delacerda was in possession of $14,900 in cash. Upon further search of the residence and vehicle, officers seized a Wells Fargo checkbook and a Samsung cell phone.
Wall confirmed that Delacerda was listed on a Wells Fargo bank account that was opened in July 2012. On July 26, a wire transfer of funds in the amount of $20,000 was deposited into Delacerda's account from Genschu Management Company. John Howard is currently the registered agent, director, and president of Genschu Management Company.
Upon questioning, Delacerda told police the money was for a business transaction but later changed her story saying that it was for "sexual contacts" with Howard.
Both Serenko and Johnson told authorities they had been contacted by John Howard, who wanted to pay to have his wife killed, according to the affidavit. The pair also said John Howard insisted the murder look like an accident.
Serenko said Howard first made contact with herself and Johnson in March 2009, paying them approximately $85,000. Howard also provided photos of his wife as well as her schedule, according to the affidavit. In addition, he set up a telephone account that was used as their main means of communication.
The affidavit states Serenko said the group would usually meet at the Whataburger at the intersection of Old Denton Road and President George Bush Turnpike on a monthly basis where they would discuss ideas on how to kill Nancy Howard. They would also occasionally meet at the Shell station on Coit Road just off I-635, she said.
The three also discussed means of payment, according to the affidavit. Serenko advised John Howard to wire the money into one of three bank accounts: Serenko's mother, Barbara Hiroms; Jimmy and Christy Pickens, bail bondsmen who Johnson and Serenko had previously used after being arrested; and Kurt Johnson, Billie Johnson's son.
During her initial questioning, Serenko told officers that Dustin Hiroms, her oldest son, was currently in communication with and receiving money from John Howard.
On August 24, Wall obtained an arrest warrant for Dustin Hiroms for the aggravated robbery of Nancy Howard. During the interview, Dustin Hiroms denied being involved in the robbery but admitted that he was contacted by John Howard. Dustin Hiroms was shown a photograph of John Howard and confirmed his identity, and told police that John Howard met Dustin Hiroms on several occasions and that Howard wanted him to kill his wife, Nancy Howard.
Dustin Hiroms told police that he received approximately $80,000 from Howard in cash payments and that wire transfers that had been sent to his grandmother, Barbara Hiroms.
On July 4, John Howard and Dustin Hiroms met at the Walmart on Trinity Mills where Dustin Hirom was driven by Howard to the Howards residence, Dustin Hiroms told police. During the drive, Dustin Hiroms said John Howard told him he wanted him to kill his wife and paid him $24,000. On August 4, Dustin Hiroms requested Howard drive to Van where Howard paid Dustin Hiroms an additional $5,000.
Dustin Hiroms told police that he received wire transfers from John Howard for $2,500 and $5,000. The two met at Sheplers clothing store in Mesquite, where Dustin Hiroms received a final payment of $10,000.
Wall interviewed Barbara Hiroms, who gave officers a photo of John Howard from her cell phone. The photo was sent by Serenko, and Dustin Hiroms stated that the photo was taken by Serenko in 2010.
According to the affidavit, "Detective [Michael] 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."
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
- Firefighters battle paper fire in 100-degree weather
- Theater review: Accompany a father on a journey between religion and culture in Fiddler on the Roof
- Police seek information about July 6 fatality on I-35E in Carrollton
- Photos: Volkswagens compete for "best display of rust" and "best survivor"
- Odd man out: Tales of getting turned down during The Real World audition in Dallas