Body Snatcher? Dead Woman Found in Pickup, Driver Says He's Helping Family with Burial

Bernard K. Howell (KVAL)
Bernard K. Howell (KVAL)

TENINO, Wash. (CBS/KVAL/AP) Police pulled over a suspicious pickup truck in Tenino, Wash., about 10 miles from Olympia, only to find a woman's dead body in the passenger seat. The driver, 26-year-old Bernard K. Howell, is charged with first degree murder.

Police were alerted Sunday night, Aug. 8 by a citizen who believed he saw a man load a dead body into a truck earlier that night, reports CBS affiliate KVAL.

When confronted, police say Howell told them he was helping the woman's family because they could not afford expensive burial costs.

The case turned into a homicide investigation when an autopsy revealed that 60-year-old victim, Vanda Boone, died after her throat was slashed. Authorities believe she was walking or biking on a trail when she was attacked. Boone was originally from Long Island, N.Y. and had recently moved to Washington.

Authorities told the CBS affiliate that there may be a connection linking Howell to the disappearance of 36-year-old mother Nancy Moyer who vanished last year.

A judge on Thursday ordered Howell to undergo a mental health evaluation to determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.