Convicted sex offender charged with Naomi Jones' murder


The Escambia County Sheriff's Office (ECSO) arrested and charged a Brewton, Alabama, man with the kidnapping and murder of Naomi Jones.

During a news conference Thursday Sheriff David Morgan said that Robert Letroy Howard, 38, is also charged with failing to register as a sex offender in Florida.

Howard was convicted in 1999 for two counts of sexual assault and rape in Alabama. He served 15 years in prison.

The ECSO said the first time they made contact with Howard was during a neighborhood canvass of the Aspen Village Apartments in Pensacola, where Naomi lived.

Sheriff Morgan said investigators determined that Howard frequently visited his girlfriend's apartment, which was very close to Naomi's residence.

Morgan said Howard did not have a viable alibi of his whereabouts during Naomi's disappearance. Investigators then began to consider Howard a person of interest and conducted more background investigating.

After Naomi's body was recovered on Monday, investigators said they learned Howard was in the area during Naomi's disappearance, but gave false information to investigators, saying he was in Alabama.

"Without going into much details, his story, his timeframes were a little off. He was cooperative, but so we noted that and bascially, we were like, we can't just leave him alone. We have to book and maybe do a little bit more digging,"said Sheriff Morgan.

Video surveillance from citizens provided an accurate vehicle description on Ashland Avenue at the time of the disposal of Naomi's body.

Investigators said they knew Howard's vehicle matched the vehicle caught on surveillance.

At that time, search warrants of his known locations were executed. Howard was located and questioned resulting in the obtaining of warrants for kidnapping, killing and disposing of Naomi's body.

Sheriff Morgan said further search warrants will follow.

The ECSO believes Howard acted alone.

Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said Howard's first appearance in court will be Friday.

"Our office will ask that he be held on no bond pending the outcome of this case," Marcille said Thursday. "Because it is a first-degree murder charge our office will present it to the grand jury and the case will then move forward and we will seek an indictment for a charge of first-degree murder as well as the initial charges."

Marcille said because of the serious amount of the charges and the "vast amount of facts involved" convicting Howard will be a long process. He explained what happens next in the case.

"Approximately within 24 hours of arrest there will be a first appearance hearing. At that point the judge will do two things. We'll review probable cause to determine that there are sufficient facts for the arrest to have been made and, secondly, we'll address bond. Because he is charged with first degree murder, by law he is not entitled to a bond. So we will ask that the court tomorrow will set a no bond, uh, pending the outcome of this case," Marcille said.

According to jail records, Howard was booked into the Escambia County Jail early Thursday morning.

Tim Cook with the Parole and Probation Office in Brewton told Channel 3 News Howard is not on parole and not on probation.

Authorities say Naomi likely died by asphyxiation 24 to 36 hours after disappearing,

Naomi went missing on Wednesday, May 31. Her body was found in 8 Mile Creek near Detroit Boulevard and Ashland Avenue on Monday, June 8.

A candlelight vigil is planned for Naomi at 7 p.m. Thursday at Olive Baptist Church in the rear parking lot.

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