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Ex-trooper charged with murder after wife found naked in bathtub was previously accused of terrorizing her lover

Daniel Charles Howard. (Mugshot: The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office)

Daniel Charles Howard. (Mugshot: The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office)

A former Idaho state trooper once sentenced for an array of crimes — including the violent way he lashed out at his wife’s lover — is now charged with murdering his spouse.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office announced that Daniel Charles Howard, 57, turned himself in to the local jail Friday shortly before 7 p.m. They claim he killed wife Kendy Howard back on Feb. 2, 2021.

The defendant is also charged with domestic battery.

Authorities did not immediately release information on how he allegedly killed his wife.

Their daughter, Brooke Wilkins, said in an Oct. 1, 2021 post to Facebook that her mother was found shot to death and naked in a bathtub.

“He called it in as a suicide,” she wrote, referring to her father. “There are multiple reasons why this doesn’t make sense but I don’t want to interfere with the ongoing investigation.”

She noted that her mother never touched guns.

Wilkins said that her father had long subjected her mother to physical and emotional abuse.

“The marriage was always bad,” she wrote at the time. “But it became terrible the last couple years. She was coming to work with bruises. She would do anything not to be home when he was. He would threaten to kill himself if she wanted to leave. Last December she started talking seriously about divorce. She was getting financials together. Had met with attorneys. Was looking at houses in her hometown.”

Wilkins said that law enforcement was called a week before her mother’s death to escort Kendy out of the home.

From the Facebook post:

She woke up with him standing above her wearing all black and gloves. While talking to him she was able to get her phone and make a call. She didn’t want to talk to law enforcement just wanted out. They both left for the weekend. When she came back she was still pretty shaken up but was convinced he has accepted it and everything was moving forward. No one wanted her at home. Multiple people begged her to stay with them. But she was convinced he would never do anything beyond pushing or hitting her. He came home February 2nd and she didn’t make it to February 3rd.

Daniel Howard resigned from his job as an Idaho state trooper on Nov. 14, 2014, amid a criminal case against him alleging a variety of offenses ranging from using a fake name to apply for the title to a motorcycle to terrorizing his wife’s lover, according to the Spokesman-Review.

On Saturday, Wilkins welcomed news of her father’s arrest.

“The last two years have felt like a lifetime,” she wrote on Facebook. “Full of doubts and unanswered questions. The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind. This is only the beginning but my heart hurts a little less today. I am so thankful and appreciative to everyone who has worked towards this and has kept my mom’s memory alive. It means more than I can ever put into words.”

In the case of the affair, Kendy reportedly had told her husband in 2013 about having been romantically involved with his friend, Matthew Wood. Prosecutors said Howard poured syrup in the man’s vehicles, left him vulgar messages, fired a shotgun at his home, and threatened to kill him, according to the newspaper.

“Damaging Wood’s property with corn syrup, stealing his guns, stealing his mail, placing the anonymous letter in Wood’s mailbox, placing the graffiti on his lawn, following him in a patrol car, pointing a rifle at him and even shooting his roof with a shotgun were done in a way to cause the most emotional damage to Wood but limit any physical evidence the perpetrator was Daniel Howard,” a detective wrote in an affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast.

Howard did not admit to all of those acts, but he did agree to give Wood restitution, according to the Spokesman-Review. His plea deal included a guilty plea for the motorcycle charge and also for possessing a white-tailed deer without a tag after he shot the animal. Howard also agreed to Alford pleas — which allow a defendant to submit a guilty plea while maintaining their innocence — for felony malicious injury to property and petty theft.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Art Verharen reportedly sought a five-year prison term during the January 2015 sentencing, reasoning that Howard betrayed the public trust as an officer and that he had put a lot of thought and preparation into committing the wrongdoing over the course of nine months.

Ultimately, First District Court Judge Benjamin Simpson sentenced Howard to 120 days in jail, a three-year suspended prison sentence, probation, and 600 hours of community service. He said that he believed Howard lived under immense stress after fatally shooting a woman in 2011. In that incident, a fugitive had backed a Jeep into Howard, who mistakenly shot the woman, according to the outlet. An outside agency determined he was justified in opening fire, and he returned to work after nine months of leave.

Some who spoke on Howard’s behalf in court said he was not the same as before. Friends said the shooting, as well as the affair, was too much for him to handle.

“He was just in a really dark place,” said Joseph Sullivan, a former ISP trooper who moved on to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane.

Kendy Howard, who had since reconciled with her husband, was among the five people who came  to court to talk on his behalf at his 2015 sentencing hearing, according to the Spokesman-Review. At that hearing, defendant Howard had also expressed remorse.

“I screwed up and I stand here utterly ashamed,” he said, adding that he “will forever endeavor to correct these wrongs.”

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