The murder of Barbara Howe by Daniel French is featured in the latest episode of Murder in the Heartlands on Investigation Discovery.
On November 1, 2012, Middletown Police Lt. Scott Reeve found Howe’s nude body in the trunk of her vehicle, a red Cadillac, which was parked outside of Woodridge Park East Apartments in Middletown, Ohio, just days after she was reported missing.
An investigation revealed that French pretended to be a maintenance worker to get inside the Mount Pleasant Retirement Community, where the 87-year-old victim lived. He told staff that Howe’s medical alert system wasn’t working, and they let him inside. That’s when French went to her home and used a Taser and choked her to death before stealing her money ($18), jewelry, and her purse.
French then put her body in the trunk of her car and cut off her hair to remove his DNA. He drove to a dollar store to purchase peroxide and drain cleaner to pour on her body. Afterward, he parked her vehicle in a parking lot and fled on foot to a nearby Walmart and called a Taxi.
Police arrested French at his sister’s home in Flat Gap Road Road. He was seemingly contemplating suicide as he had a gun and a suicide note with him.
While in police custody, he confessed to killing Howe. He was charged with aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and robbery, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
In 2015, a jury deliberated for an hour and 20 minutes before finding French guilty of aggravated murder. He was spared the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Murder in the Heartlands — If The Walls Could Talk, airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.