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Jason Howell Accused of Murdering Grandmother With a Shovel

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A Goodyear man admitted to murdering his grandmother by bashing her head with a shovel and cutting her throat, police say.

Jason Howell, 40, said he killed his 78-year-old grandmother, Helen Jean Lee, because she imposed curfew rules on him, charged him too much for rent, and broke the garage door at their home, according to court documents obtained by New Times.

Police started looking for Lee last week, after another family member couldn't find her.

Goodyear police officers, who've had several run-ins with Howell for "hallucinations, erratic behavior and violent tendencies" in the past, heard from one family member that Howell was upset his grandmother broke the garage door.

"Jason told the family member he smashed Helen's head and cut her throat," court documents state.

On Wednesday, investigators tracked Howell's phone to an area nearly 20 miles west of Gila Bend.

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Goodyear police obtained a search warrant for the home the next day, and by the time they found signs of a potential murder scene -- including blood spatter -- Howell had already made it back to the Valley, and been arrested.

Howell had made his way to Chandler Wednesday afternoon. While drunk and high on meth, Howell jumped into a Range Rover that was running in a parking lot of an elementary school, and took off, according to the documents.

There was a 12-year-old girl in that car, and that girl ended up jumping out of the moving vehicle before Howell was eventually chased down and arrested by Chandler police.

Howell spontaneously admitted to Chandler PD that he'd killed his grandmother, according to court documents. Goodyear police interviewed him about this, and Howell gave them the details.

Howell said he killed her by hitting her in the back of the head two or three times with a shovel.

After that, Howell said he held her from behind and cut her throat, according to the documents.

Howell admitted to cleaning the crime scene, and waiting two days before disposing of his grandmother's decomposing body west of Gila Bend.

Howell led investigators to his grandmother's body in a remote desert area. The fracture to her skull was "the size of a baseball," and her throat had been cut ear to ear, "nearly decapitating her," court documents state.

Howell was booked into jail again on charges of murder, attempted murder, hindering prosecution, and concealing a dead body. His bond in this case was set at $1 million.

He's still facing charges for the Chandler incident, including aggravated assault, kidnapping, theft, unlawful flight from law enforcement, and three different aggravated DUI charges.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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