A young woman who admitted killing her sports editor father with a bullet to the head when she was 17 was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
Crystal Brooke Howell, 20, of Maggie Valley, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in Haywood County Court on Monday. She was sentenced on first degree murder charges in the death of her father, Michael Howell, 50, for the 2014 crime.
Crystal, who was 17 at the time of the murder, killed her father with one shot to the head while he napped in their Sheepback Mountain home and then hid her father’s body in a shed for a month, according to WYFF4.
She then set about spending her father’s money and moving friends into the house for drug parties, according to authorities.
‘She then started to drive his car and spend his money. She had her friends move in, had a drug-fueled party, and even had a stripper pole installed in the kitchen,’ said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones said in a Haywood County DA news release, according to the Huffington Post.
Crystal had been living with her dad after her parents divorced five years earlier.
On February 24, cops say Crystal was caught shoplifting while out with her father, and the two returned home. It was there she began to plot to kill him, according to the Columbia County News-Times.
She was able to get her father’s body into a plastic storage container and covered it with a sleeping bag, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
She told friends that her father had moved to Georgia and killed himself, then moved several pals into the house.
But it all fell apart on March 22 when two of the men who were staying at the house went into the storage shed and, while cleaning up, moved a pinball machine.
One of the men, Anthony Talley, spotted the plastic storage bin and looked inside, finding Michael’s body.
Crystal’s aunt, Brenda Ellis, says her niece is mentally ill.
‘I can tell you there is a lot more wrong with Crystal than has come out,’ Ennis told the Columbia County News-Times. ‘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.’
On Monday, Crystal was sentenced to 25 years in prison before she can apply for parole, with an extra five to seven for hiding her father’s body.
She will serve her sentence at the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.