ELKHART — The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Monday that the death of 45-year-old Debbie McDowell is linked to an apparent suicide in Elkhart city on Saturday morning.
The series of events unfolded Saturday when sheriff’s officials received a call about a body in the old American Countryside parking lot off of C.R. 26, just west of S.R. 19, around 10:50 a.m. Saturday.
According to the sheriff’s department’s initial investigation, Ervin K. Howard, 63, called 911 and claimed to have shot McDowell. He gave specific details of the incident, which were confirmed by their investigation this weekend.
Howard’s body was found in a parking lot at 2210 Franklin St. in Elkhart, about an eight-minute drive from where McDowell’s body was found.
According to the press release, Howard and McDowell “were known to each other,” though the extent of their relationship is unknown at this time.
Howard and McDowell lived close to each other, within a three-minute drive around a block in Dunlap.
The sheriff’s department is still working on the investigation, and will release more details when appropriate, according to the press release.
McDowell’s death is the eighth homicide case in Elkhart County this year, the third in a span of two weeks. The state’s definition for murder is the act of knowingly or intentionally killing another person, or the act of killing another person while committing or attempting to commit a felony.
Six of the year’s homicides have taken place in the second half of the year. In addition to McDowell’s killing:
John Staub, 26, of Goshen, was found dead of a gunshot wound in a truck March 22. After stopping a vehicle the same night of the murder, Goshen police arrested four suspects: Daniel Heflin, 21; William Terry, 24; Elisa Horton, 22; and Dustin Saylor, 22. Heflin was charged with murder, and after pleading guilty he was sentenced to 90 years in prison. Terry, Horton and Saylor were also sentenced for their roles in the crime.
Jesse Bowen, 21, of Baugo Township, was found dead in his residence April 16, of one gunshot wound to his chest. Not much information has been provided since, but the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that the case remains under investigation.
James Grant, also known as Tyrannosaurus Rex Mullens, 60, of Elkhart was found dead in his residence on Morton Avenue. After an autopsy, it was determined Grant died of multiple sharp force injuries to the chest, head and neck. Police arrested 18-year-old Brandon Johnston Aug. 17, charging him with murder.
Kristyana Jackson, 7, was shot outside her Elkhart home Aug. 17 after her mom and her walked into their house after a football game and were rushed by unknown individuals. Kristyana died at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, a day and half after she was shot. The Elkhart Police Department continues to investigate the case, but no new information can be released at this time, said Capt. Mike Sigsbee.
Mark Miller, 44, went missing Sept. 7. According to his family, Miller was last seen at his tattoo shop in Dunlap. His body was found 13 days later inside a barrel that was floating in the St. Joseph River near the Six Span Bridge, off of S.R. 120. The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant at an Elkhart home a few weeks ago, but at this point could not share any new information, said Capt. Jim Bradberry.
Durwood Elliott III, was found running down an alley the night of Nov. 20, just before dying from a gunshot wound. Elliott III was seen running down the alley by neighbors, who said he collapsed on Franklin Avenue. The Elkhart Police Department continues to investigate the case.
Cordero Williams-El was shot outside Gemini’s Bar and Grill the early morning of Nov. 23. Williams-El died, and two women were injured in the confrontation. Because the sheriff’s department is looking for more clues on the case, not much information is available on it.
Anyone with information on these cases can call the Elkhart Police Department at 574-295-7070 or the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department at 574-533-4151.