Son, 51, arrested after father’s decomposing body found in Montgomery Co. home

A Rockville man responsible for caring for his father has been charged in connection with the man’s death after police found the dad’s decomposing body under a file cabinet in the Maryland home the two shared.

Gary D. Howes, 51, was arrested on Sept. 9 and charged with neglect of a vulnerable adult, his father Gary W. Howes, that resulted in death and/or serious physical injury.

According to charging documents, officers found the elder Howes’ decomposing remains after Montgomery County police had been asked by his sister-in-law, Mary Howes, to perform a welfare check a few days earlier. The document stated the elder Howes hadn’t made contact with family members since October 2020.

Prior to the discovery of the elder Howes body, detectives had interviewed acquaintances of Gary W. Howes, as well as neighbors. They also interviewed the father’s doctors, who said he suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and needed his medications. The doctors also stated that the son, Gary D. Howes, had previously been solely responsible for his father’s medical appointments and prescriptions. Police said his last known contact with his father’s doctor or pharmacist was December 2020.

On Sept. 7, when officers first questioned Gary D. Howes about his father’s well-being, he told police his father was visiting a family friend named Michael Ottz in West Virginia. However, when officers investigated the statement, they discovered Michael Ottz had been deceased since 2016.

Police also stated Gary D. Howes spent time over the summer at an antiques store selling items from his father’s house, and had told employees that his father had recently died. They also reported that, prior to his disappearance, an acquaintance of the elder Howes said the father had asked him to buy his collection of guns in order to get them out of the house and away from the son.

After preliminary interviews with neighbors and acquaintances, police executed a search warrant on Sept. 9 at the home the two men shared on Bready Road. The younger Howes, upon answering the door, told officers that his father was still in West Virginia and they were “wasting valu[able] public resources searching for his father,” according to charging documents.

Upon entering the home, police “immediately smelled an odor of human decomposition,” the charging document said.

The back bedroom door, identified as belonging to Howes’ father, had a rug rolled up in an attempt to block the smell, according to documents.

When one of the detectives opened the door to the bedroom, he saw human remains under a file cabinet. Those remains were later confirmed to belong to the father Gary W. Howes.

Human feces and used adult diapers were also found in the bedroom, police said.

A District Court judge gave Gary D. Howes an unsecured $10,000 personal bond as well as specific release conditions that include verifying an address, participating in mental health treatment, having no contact with certain individuals, staying away from the scene of the crime, following a curfew and electronic monitoring.

Howes is still detained as of Wednesday, according to police.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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