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Extradition not needed in murder case
Jason Morris Howard1
Jason Morris Howard - photo by Macon Police photo
Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden said a formal extradition process will not be necessary for a man wanted for allegedly murdering his mother and stepfather in Gum Branch five years ago.
Jason Howard, 39, had been on the lam since 2004. He was arrested in Macon Friday morning.
Howard’s mother Mildred and her husband Jewel Cleveland were last seen in March 2004. The couple was known to travel frequently and at first folks thought the couple had gone to their vacation home or where traveling.
But on May 5 of that year, teacher Wanda Parnell received a letter from an anonymous source saying she should go to the Cleveland home and bring a sheriff’s deputy with her. According to news accounts and TV show America’s Most Wanted, Parnell and Deputy James Caines went to the house within hours of receiving the letter.
Caines entered the house, but no one was found inside. Authorities realized something was amiss as the family pets were there, along with an envelope containing $400 and instructions to use the money to take care of the dog. The couple also appeared to have left behind a purse, prescription medications and Jewel Cleveland’s abandoned wheelchair, which he relied on.
On June 15, with the aid of cadaver dogs, authorities found the bodies of the couple reportedly wrapped in tarps and buried in a shed in their yard. An autopsy later confirmed that both had been shot in the head and that Mildred Cleveland had been beaten first.
Howard, described as socially withdrawn, was allegedly a disturbed man who had been committed to a mental institution for schizophrenia following his arrest for robbing a bank. His mother allowed him to stay at their home, telling family she thought he could be rehabilitated.
According to America’s Most Wanted, which profiled Howard’s case several times, police suspected that after killing and burying the couple he continued to live in the house. They suspect he paid bills and cared for the family pets before leaving the area.
According to the program’s case file, Howard wrote a note in November 1994 saying, “Let it be known that I, Jason M. Howard, can be extremely paranoid, therefore as a fugitive I will not only be carrying firearms but explosives as well...I’m not dangerous until I am crossed or cornered, so stay away. Keep away and don’t blame me for a dead tactical team. Only yourselves to blame.”
On Friday, Macon Police Sgt. Mike Kenirey saw a man breaking into vehicles inside the fence of Enterprise Rental at 2135 Riverside Drive, according to MPD public information officer Sgt. Melanie Hofmann. The man was caught inside a vehicle and identified himself as Kevin Wayne Lewis. He said he was living in a Salvation Army home on the 1900 block of Broadway in Macon.
Fingerprints later identified the man as Howard.
Durden said Howard is still being processed through Bibb County courts, facing two counts of entering an auto, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of burglary tools. Howard is being held in jail in Macon.
According to Durden a formal extradition process is not necessary because Howard was apprehended in Georgia.
The DA said he will meet with authorities in Macon and should know within a week whether Howard would be brought to Liberty County to face murder charges first or whether he will face the charges in Macon, and then be brought to Liberty County.
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