Crime

Murder suspect to have mental state evaluated

Accompanied by defense attorney Patrick O'Connor, Bernard Keith Howell, 26, of Tenino listens Monday as Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy sets his bail at $750,000. Howell was ordered held on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Accompanied by defense attorney Patrick O'Connor, Bernard Keith Howell, 26, of Tenino listens Monday as Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy sets his bail at $750,000. Howell was ordered held on suspicion of second-degree murder. The Olympian

OLYMPIA - A judge ordered a Tenino man charged with first-degree murder to undergo a mental-health evaluation at Western State Hospital to help determine whether he is competent to stand trial.

The suspect, Bernard Keith Howell, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the homicide of Vanda Boone, 60.

According to a police report:

A Thurston County sheriff’s deputy pulled Howell over Sunday night and found Boone’s body wrapped in a sleeping bag in the passenger seat. Howell told the deputy he had discovered Boone’s body and was going to bury her to save the family funeral expenses.

Howell denied that he had anything to do with her death. However, after Howell’s arrest, he told a detective that he had sex with Boone’s body after he found her Sunday afternoon on the Yelm-Tenino Trail.

Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Mealy has said detectives think Boone was walking or riding her bike on the trail when she was attacked and killed.

Boone died from having her throat slit, according to Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock.

Howell is charged with first-degree murder. He is not scheduled to be arraigned until after his mental-health evaluation. His initial evaluation is supposed to take 15 days.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465

jpawloski@theolympian.com

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