A Washington man accused of murdering his girlfriend and then mutilating her body reportedly died on Friday following an altercation with a corrections officer while in custody.
Sean M. Howell, 28, was arrested after local authorities received a 911 call on the afternoon of May 8 reporting an unconscious woman at a private residence, the Bremerton Police Department said in a news release. Upon their arrival, first responders and law enforcement officials found a 23-year-old woman who they pronounced dead at the scene. There was blood in the home, and that, coupled with the condition of the woman’s body, led authorities to suspect foul play, the release states.
After collecting evidence at the home and interviewing witnesses — including Howell, who was found at the residence with the victim — authorities arrested Howell for first-degree murder, police said. They did not elaborate on the circumstances of the murder, but did refer to “many disturbing details” in the release, which they chose not to publish out of respect for the victim’s loved ones.
The victim has since been identified as Sabrina A. Olson-Smith, a Port Orchard resident, according to the Kitsap Sun. Olson-Smith was Howell’s girlfriend, the outlet reports. It was reportedly Howell’s father who called 911 to report that Olson-Smith wasn't breathing, and when officers arrived, they found the young woman lying on the floor, having apparently been stabbed multiple times; her hands had been mutilated, she’d suffered blunt force trauma to the head, and broken glass and coffee beans were on her body, according to court documents obtained by the outlet.
While speaking to investigators, Howell allegedly admitted to the killing, telling detectives, “I’m just sad I killed my girlfriend.”
Howell allegedly told authorities that he and Olson-Smith had been smoking marijuana together the previous night, but that it hadn’t tasted “right,” leading him to wonder if it was laced with something stronger, according to the Kitsap Sun. He claimed that he woke up in the night to find Olson-Smith sitting on top of him and threatening to kill him, which prompted him to fight back, using a sword, a butcher knife, and a wrench to kill Olson-Smith, who he reportedly also believed was a demon. He claimed that he mutilated her body because, at one point, he believed that she had come back to life.
Following his arrest, Howell, who allegedly had a history of domestic violence and harassment, was booked at the Kitsap County Jail and assigned a “crisis cell,” which is a padded room for inmates who may present a danger to themselves or others, according to the Kitsap Sun.
The following morning, an incident occurred that led to Howell’s hospitalization, according to a release issued by Washington State Patrol. Howell was allegedly attempting to disturb the sprinkler system on the ceiling, prompting corrections officers to intervene and try to restrain him, police said. When Howell grew “combative,” a physical fight occurred, leaving both Howell and an unnamed corrections officer injured.
While the officer has since been treated and released from the hospital, Howell was not as lucky; he died on Friday morning, according to the Seattle Times.
Washington State Patrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Oxygen.com. The Kitsap Critical Incident Response Team is currently investigating the altercation that led to Howell’s death, according to authorities.
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