For nearly five years no one outside of Naoma Ware’s family knew she was dead.
Ware was left buried in her own yard until a woman tried to inform Ware of her daughter’s death.
Harley Howell, Ware’s grandson, was arrested Thursday after he admitted to beating Ware in October 2014, finding her dead the next day, burying her in the yard of their home southeast of Shelley and keeping her death a secret. Ware was about 78 years old at the time of her death.
A Bingham County Sheriff’s Office detective began investigating Ware’s disappearance in December. In January, the detective learned she was still receiving Social Security benefits. He requested a search warrant for her bank account. Records showed her account had been regularly used from March 2015 until November 2018.
Ware’s account had been used for internet bills and groceries, among other expenditures. The detective contacted Howell, 25, on May 1 to ask him about the expenditures and Ware’s disappearance.
Howell told the detective Ware was dead. He said he got into an argument with his grandmother in October 2014. He said Ware insulted him, and he responded by shoving her down on the floor and kicking her. He said Ware was moaning, and he left her in the bedroom.
The next day Howell and his mother, Danielle Howell, found Ware on the floor in the fetal position, dead.
Danielle Howell, Ware’s daughter who died in November, was afraid to report the death, according to Harley. Ware was malnourished when she died, Harley said.
According to the probable cause statement, Harley put Ware’s body in a closet in her home on East 1100 North and left it there for two months. Her body began to smell, so Harley took it to a shed in the backyard. After two weeks Harley and Danielle decided to move her again because of the smell, and because Harley’s father would be using the shed. moved her into a crawl space in the house for another two weeks.
Three months after her death, Harley and Danielle Howell took Ware’s body to a duck pen, dug a hole and buried her in it.
“Harley said in one part of the interview, ‘I killed her,’” the detective wrote in his report.
Harley also described an incident from August 2014 in which his father, Douglas Howell, got in a fight with Ware over the number of cats in the house. Harley said he saw Douglas kick Ware in the hip and leave her on the floor in pain.
Douglas, 49, admitted to the abuse when interviewed by law enforcement.
Douglas and Harley Howell were both charged with abuse and/or neglect of a vulnerable adult, punishable with up to 10 years in prison. Harley Howell also was charged with failure to report a death, also punishable with up to 10 years in prison. The detective had recommended manslaughter.
Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers was not available Friday to comment on the charges. Harley was released Friday after posting $1,000 for his bond.
Bingham County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jeff Gardner said the IRS is investigating Harley and Douglas for the money that was spent after Ware’s death.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for both cases at 8:30 a.m. June 27 in Bingham County Courthouse.