A preliminary hearing date has been set for July 28 for a Springfield man that prosecutor say killed his wife 17 years ago then stuffed her body in septic tank 17 years ago in Pike County.
Douglas Howery Sr. was arrested on May 7th at his Hillcrest Avenue home and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Betty Ann Howery, who was 44 when she disappeared from the couple’s rural Annada farm in February 1992. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Human bones were discovered in a septic tank during an excavation at the Annada farm on Oct. 12, 2008. Howery quit cooperating with investigators at that point. The bones were identified by DNA testing conducted by the FBI as belonging to Betty Ann Howery.
The probable cause statement written by Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. David C. Bauer says Betty Ann Howery was upset that her husband allegedly took “all the money” from their bank account on Feb. 20, 1992. The couple had received a settlement of over $214,000 after a fire destroyed their home in November of 1991.
|Betty Ann Howery|
That same day, the Howery's and business partner, Melvin Kinnaird, signed papers to buy a St. Louis auto lot.
At some point that night, Kinnaird claimed he called Douglas Howery and said Betty Ann had asked him about a woman named Donna Tullock....“Kinnaird told Douglas Howery to either get rid of his girlfriend (Tullock) or get a divorce,” according to Bauer’s report.
In March of 2000, Howery filed for divorce from Betty Ann....the court granted the petition on May 30, 2000. Douglas Howery has since married Tullock and records show they have lived in Springfield for about 10 years.
According to court documents, shortly after 7 p.m. on February 20, 1992, Betty Ann Howery called her father from a telephone in the shed of the Annada farm. The father was told the couple would no longer need a $13,000 loan he had offered them.“From the time Betty Howery handed the telephone to Douglas Howery Sr. to speak to (her father) on Thursday, Feb. 20, 1992, no one besides Douglas Howery Sr. has reportedly seen or heard from Betty Ann Howery again,” Bauer wrote.
The next day, Howery called his wife's employer and told them that she needed to take a vacation day.
Bauer wrote that a .38 caliber Derringer handgun was found in the septic tank with the bones and that the gun had been sold to Betty Ann in 1982 or 1983.
Betty Ann Howery's son, Matthew Higginbotham of O'Fallon, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his stepfather on June 1st, he is seeking $50,000 in damages.
Authorities found a handgun in the septic tank where Betty Ann’s body was discovered, however, her son says authorities told him his mother died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Pike County prosecutors have not indicated whether or not the will seek the death penalty in the case. The range of punishment on a first degree murder conviction if life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Douglas Howery is being held in the Pike County jail on a one million dollar cash only bond.
After years of delays, a jury found Howery guilty. He was sentenced to life without parole.
09PI-CR00154 - ST V DOUGLAS JAMES HOWERY
31100DR1194 - DOUGLAS J HOWERY SR V BETTY A HOWERY
Wrongful Death Lawsuit:
09PI-CC00042 - MATHEW L HIGGINBOTHAM V DOUGLAS J HOWERY SR