When a Thurston County deputy got flagged down on Sunday night, the man>"/>
UPDATE: The dead woman has now been identified. Details after the jump.
When a Thurston County deputy got flagged down on Sunday night, the man who pulled him over said he'd just experienced something strange: another man had stopped him on a popular trail and asked if he'd help him move a dead body. As the cop and the man were talking specifics, the man drove past in a pick-up truck.
When police pulled over the Nissan two-door, they found 26-year-old Bernard Howell behind the wheel. He didn't resist arrest. Nor try to stop the officers from unzipping the sleeping bag lying next to him in the passenger's seat. And when he was asked why he had the dead body of a 50-year-old woman with him in the car, he was similarly nonplussed.
Howell told deputies that he had simply found the body and was taking it to "save the family the funeral expenses." A wacky explanation that didn't pass the smell test. Especially after cops, seeing what they're describing only as "intentionally-inflicted wounds," determined that the woman had been murdered.
Bernard Howell's car where cops found a dead woman stuffed in a sleeping bag.
Howell was booked for second-degree murder and one count of theft, because deputies believe he also took the victim's car. But Howell wasn't done talking.
In court yesterday, Howell claimed that he found the woman after she was dead, had sex with her corpse and then went back to his house to get supplies, including zip ties, the sleeping bag and a 10-pound weight. His plan was to dump her body in a nearby swamp.
Police say they don't believe Howell knew the victim. But they've still yet to figure out how the two crossed paths.
KIRO says Howell has a history of mental problems and will undergo an evaluation. They also caught up with his father.
"He's a good kid. I'm extremely shocked and I'm trying to come to grips with it," Keith Howell told KIRO. "I would say he was a regular American boy who got involved with a circle of drug users and snapped."
UPDATE: The victim is Vanda Boone, a 60-year-old who had been stabbed multiple times.
KOMO Vonda Boone, seen here in an undated photo, was found stabbed to death in a sleeping bag.
Boone had recently moved from New York to Yelm, according to friends. She was staying with a friend and was working part-time as a massage therapist in Olympia.Investigators are also looking into whether Howell is connected to the disappearance of a mother of two last March.
Boone is said to be a follower of JZ Knight, the founder of the Yelm-based Ramtha's School of Enlightenment. On Tuesday, Knight released a written statement which said the school would take care of the funeral arrangements.