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Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

Manhunt ends in Viola

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Herbert "Chuck" Howell, 39, of Viola was arrested and charged with first degree terroristic threatening Nov. 2 after leading Fulton County and state authorities on an all-day manhunt in Viola on Oct. 28.

Howell's Oct. 28 offenses were preceded by charges filed against him and his mother, Ramona Howell, 58, also of Viola on Oct. 27.

The Friday before Howell's arrest, he was charged with illegal possession of firearms, and both he and his mother were charged with theft of property for alleged crimes committed Sept. 21.

According to the Fulton County Sheriff's Department, these first charges set the stage for Howell's actions the following Saturday.

The Sept. 21 allegations stem from the incident at Steven Rainbolt's residence in Gepp Sept. 21. During this incident, Rainbolt was arrested and charged with numerous offenses after he made several threats, ran from authorities, set fire to his home and threw some of his family's belongings into their front yard, according to authorities.

When Rainbolt was apprehended, both he and his wife, Valerie, gave consistent statements in separate interviews saying that he had thrown approximately $6,000 in cash along with an unknown amount of valuable gold and silver coins into the front yard of their residence.

After the state police conducted an investigation of the incident, Valerie Rainbolt received a disposition of evidence report. She then contacted authorities to ask about the whereabouts of the money because it was not accounted for in the report.

On Oct. 20 the Fulton County Sheriff's Department received information regarding the whereabouts of the money from Howell's ex-girlfriend, Tina Heier.

Heier, who was working off fines at the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, confided in Fulton County Deputy Jason Martin that she thought Howell had the missing coins from the Rainbolt incident. Heier told Martin that Howell had said he and his mother had been traveling towards Viola from Mt. Home on Sept. 21 and had stopped at a residence because it appeared to be on fire. Heier said Howell told her that they found money on the ground and in a shoe box containing large sums of cash and coins.

Heier also confided to Salem Mayor Gary Clayton that Howell had told her the coins were buried in his back yard but only Howell and his mother knew the specific location.

Some time between Oct. 9 and 13, Howell contacted Fulton Sheriff Walter Dillinger.

Howell told Dillinger that Heier told him she had been flirting with deputies. Howell pleaded with Dillinger to mend his and Heier's relationship, according to Dillinger.

In their conversation Howell also said that he had found a large sum of money in a ditch that he had used to pay bills and buy things for Heier.

On Oct. 25 a search warrant was executed at Howell's two residences. Authorities located numerous items Heier said Howell had purchased with the stolen money, as well as commemorative coins and recent receipts for items paid in full with cash.

According to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, after the charges were filed against Howell on Oct. 27 he was upset because he thought Heier was trying to cause trouble and had "stabbed him in the back."

The following day at approximately 12:45 p.m. Fulton County officials were informed that Howell was driving around Viola, highly intoxicated, threatening to kill Dillinger.

Fulton County Deputies Jason Martin and Ronnie Stewart then drove to Dillinger's residence. Dillinger said Howell had just left his house and confirmed that Howell was extremely intoxicated.

According to police reports, Dillinger told the deputies that Howell had threatened to kill him. Dillinger later denied this.

"He never said he was going to kill me. He just said he was going to kill somebody, and I told him, 'No you're not'," Dillinger said.

Dillinger said Howell had again pleaded with him to save the relationship between him and Heier.

Martin and Stewart then left Dillinger's residence, separated and spent several hours traveling throughout Viola searching for Howell. It was not until approximately 6 p.m. that authorities received information regarding Howell's whereabouts.

Fulton County authorities were told that Howell was hiding inside Jerry's Flea Market. Howell had asked the business's owner to hide him because he was being chased, the owner of the business said.

The owner complied, locked Howell inside and then contacted the sheriff's department, according to Fulton County Chief Deputy Terry Walker.

Howell was found in the overhead attic crawl space. After several demands to show himself, Howell finally surrendered to authorities and was taken into custody.

Ramona Howell would not comment on the charges brought against her or her son except to say, "Just let people know that I am innocent."

Howell is being held in the Fulton County Jail without bond awaiting his Nov. 9 court date.



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