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Murder victim died of two gunshot wounds

The victim of weekend's murder was shot twice, officials say.
Posted on Dec. 5, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 5, 2012 at 5:33 a.m.

ELKHART — Though more details have come out about 45-year-old Debbie McDowell’s death, police have not closed the case and they continue to look for more information on what happened before the victim’s body was found Saturday morning at the old American Countryside parking lot.

“We can’t close the case until we complete all aspects of it and there’s just little things that we need to make sure that we cover,” said undersheriff Sean Holmes.

What has been determined is that McDowell died of two gunshot wounds to the upper chest and back area. Elkhart County Coroner John White confirmed McDowell’s autopsy took place Monday.

Deputies from the sheriff’s department were called to the American Countryside parking lot on C.R. 26 around 10:50 a.m. Saturday. Holmes said the person who called was a witness who discovered McDowell’s body.

While police were en route to find her body, dispatch received a call from Ervin K. Howard, 63, who said he was responsible for McDowell’s death. Details of the conversation with Howard at the time of the call are not available because of the ongoing investigation, but Holmes said the suspect was not the initial person who called 911 with information about McDowell.

Howard died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His body was found in a parking lot at 2210 W. Franklin St.

According to a Monday press release from the sheriff’s department, McDowell and Howard knew each other, but the extent of their relationship is still under investigation. Holmes said the sheriff’s department wanted to release the fact that the two deaths were linked so that the public did not feel in danger.

“We can confirm we they knew each other, but our goal is to know exactly what occurred and to know exactly how this happened,” he said. “There’s family who are important to keep in mind, and they deserve to have an answer and we’re going to do our best to get all the facts and get them straight.”


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