Man who killed spouse in veritable cat house to be sentenced

A man who asphyxiated his wife in an unexplained attack at their Lake Elsinore home is slated to be sentenced tomorrow to 25 years in prison.

Jurors deliberated one day last month before finding Ted Preston Howard, 60, guilty of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of 66-year-old Jeannette Howard. The motive for the deadly attack still remains unclear, as Howard never told investigators what transpired on the afternoon of June 17, 2012.

During the defendant’s trial, a recording of the 18-minute 911 call he made to report his wife’s death was played for jurors. The dispatcher repeatedly asked Howard about the circumstances that led to his wife’s death, but only got flat, abbreviated responses.

“Can you tell me what happened until the deputies get there?” the dispatcher asked.

“No,” Howard replied.

“How did it happen?” the dispatcher asked.

“She’s dead,” Howard answered.

“Was your wife sick?” the dispatcher asked.

“I think it’s just me,” Howard said.

Sheriff’s Investigator Gary Bowen said that when he arrived at the single-story house at 32560 Payne St., he saw the victim face-down in a hallway, her hands and feet bound with electrical cords and a trash bag tied around her head “in a very tight knot.” The detective recalled being overwhelmed by a “malodorous feculence” from cat excrement all over the house. Jeannette Howard was known to adopt stray felines wherever she found them.

An autopsy showed that she suffocated as a result of the bag being wrapped around her head.

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