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High profile death raises questions in Turks and Caicos

revPROVIDENCIALES, TCI--The recent death of Rev. Conrad Howell near his home on Providenciales, the most populated island of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), has raised many questions locally as to the reasons and cause of death. Howell was a talk show host on a local radio show. He also hosted a local television show, which featured interviews from other prominent people.

Howell was reported missing on Friday night, September 11, by his wife who had retired before Howell and then awoke in the early hours of the next morning to find him missing. She found the front door of their residence unlocked and a glass of liquid on top of his vehicle in the yard.

The next day, Saturday, a massive search found Howell’s body in some bushes 200 yards from his home. Locals involved in the search report that Howell’s remains were “all messed up”. Many stories circulated this last week as to the reasons and means of Howell’s death. Statements from the police have added to the confusion.

Police spokespersons initially indicated the death might not be a homicide. A week later, the police reported that an autopsy indicated that Howell had repeatedly stabbed himself in two places of his abdomen. Rumours also had Howell taking poison, some of which was left in the glass on top of his vehicle. Police reports have not ruled this out, saying they are awaiting a toxicology report.

Howell, who has been a member and supporter of the ruling Progressive National Party (PNP), was once married to current Cabinet minister Porsha Stubbs Smith. Howell was also a former member of the Turks and Caicos Baptist Union.

Howell’s death brought tributes from current Premier Dr Rufus Ewing, who said Howell was a patriot that in recent weeks had been pushing for a vote on independence for the British Overseas Territory.

Howell was also credited by Ewing with authoring the Turks and Caicos National Song. “This Land of Ours”. However, Wikipedia gives Howell credit for only the TCI lyrics and credits Leila Ross-Shier (1886-1968), a Cayman Islander, for writing the melody for Howell’s song when writing the Cayman Islands National Song in 1930, long before Howell’s birth.

The TCI has been suffering a growing crime wave and has many unsolved homicides. Howell’s death was succeeded by a gunshot homicide in the Five Cays area of Providenciales, when a long term resident was the unwitting victim of a robbery.

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