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Bryan Nathan HOWER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Killed his wife because he feared she would leave, take children
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 11, 2010
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: April 10, 1977
Victim profile: Bonnie Lynn Hower, 33 (his wife)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Lakeland, Polk County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on August 30, 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lakeland Man Sentenced to Life for Strangling Wife

By Jason Geary - TheLedger.com

August 31, 2011

A jury rejected a Lakeland man's claim that he strangled his wife in self- defense and found him guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder.

Jurors spent more than three hours deliberating before reaching a decision in the trial of Bryan Hower.

Shortly after the verdict was announced, Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen sentenced Bryan Hower to life imprisonment for the killing of 33-year-old Bonnie Hower.

As a bailiff was fingerprinting Bryan Hower, he turned to his wife's family members and apologized.

Bryan Hower, 34, was arrested after his wife's remains were discovered June 11, 2010, within a wooded area behind the couple's home on Timberlake Road West.

Their 10-year-old daughter had been worried after her mother disappeared, and her father began acting strangely, according to investigative reports. The girl called her mother's uncle, who reported Bonnie Hower missing. A deputy searching the backyard found her body and purse dumped in a hole where the Hower family typically got rid of dead animals.

On Tuesday, Bryan Hower testified that he didn't mean to kill his wife, and he was trying to stop her from attacking him during an argument over who would have custody of their two children.

Hower testified that he disarmed his wife when she grabbed a knife, but she kept trying to get a wrench as they struggled on the floor of the garage.

During Wednesday's closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Paul Wallace insisted Bryan Hower made a conscious decision to kill his wife and had enough time to reflect on what he was doing.

Bryan Hower told detectives that he kept choking his wife because he wouldn't let her take away their children, and he never said he was afraid she would hurt him, Wallace said.

"There is only one thing on his mind: I've got to do what is necessary so Bonnie doesn't leave and take my children," said Wallace.

He urged jurors to consider why Bryan Hower hid his wife's body, and then lied about her whereabouts to family, friends and investigators if he was acting in self defense.

"It's entirely inconsistent," he said.

Assistant Public Defender Howardene Garrett said her client was trying to stop Bonnie Hower from attacking him.

"He simply tried to restrain her until she calmed down," said Garrett.

Prosecutors argued Bryan Hower spent minutes choking his wife until she died. Garrett suggested the choking might have lasted just a matter of seconds if pressure was applied to a nerve in Bonnie Hower's neck, and her heart stopped.

Bryan Hower hid her body because he panicked afterwards, she said.

"He couldn't cope," she said. "He didn't know what to do."

 
 

Bonnie Hower Murder: Mother Tells of Family's Abuse, Grief

Children have nothing but urn to turn to for comfort after mother's death

By John Chambliss - TheLedger.com

September 1, 2011

Every day, Hayle, 11, and Tyler, 8, touch their mother's urn to remember her.

Bonnie Hower, 33, was strangled by her husband Hayle and Tyler's father Bryan Hower, in 2010. Hower's trial ended Wednesday with a jury finding him guilty of first-degree murder.

And while Hower, 34, will likely serve the rest of his life in prison, his children also will serve a life sentence of sorts.

"Before the trial started, Hayle asked if she could look at the urn in her room before falling asleep," said Sheri Galvez, Bonnie Hower's mother. "All we have left is a beautiful urn."

Galvez, 55, talked Thursday near the wooded area behind the couple's home on Timberlake Road West where her daughter's remains were discovered June 11, 2010. She spoke about the children's ongoing grief and of years of abuse she said Bonnie Hower endured.

Hayle and Tyler have been staying with family friends in Winter Haven and did not know yet that their father had been sentenced. She said she planned to explain the sentencing later that day to the children.

She soon will return with the children to Lodi, Calif., where she lives. Galvez has custody of Hayle and Tyler.

Except for pink curtains in Hayle's old upstairs room, there were few indications the family of four had lived in the gray, two-story home for two years.

Galvez and her brother, Tim Ward, were cleaning the house and mowing the yard Thursday. It was Ward who reported Bonnie Hower missing after he received an early morning phone call from Hayle who was worried after her mother went missing, and her father began acting strangely, according to reports.

A deputy searching the backyard found her body and purse dumped in a hole where the Hower family typically got rid of dead animals. Detectives said Bonnie Hower was killed in the garage while the children were upstairs.

Hower testified that he didn't mean to kill his wife, and he was trying to stop her from attacking him during an argument over who would have custody of their two children.

Galvez said she received an apology from Hower after he was sentenced.

"I'm sorry, Sheri," Hower told Galvez as he left the courtroom. "I really am."

The children have had different reactions about their father.

Tyler, who goes by T, said he hates his dad and calls him a "stupid head," Galvez said.

Hayle has had a tougher time sorting her emotions.

"She was daddy's special princess," Galvez said. "Hayle is so conflicted."

Galvez, who often visited her daughter and the children, said she feels guilty about not confronting her daughter about her troubled marriage. She saw hints of Bryan Hower's temper when he struck Bonnie's arm in the car as she attempted to change the radio station.

He often called his wife a jerk and told her to shut up, Galvez said.

"It was always of the utmost importance to Bonnie to keep her family together," Galvez said. "She was a product of divorce and stayed with him all the time."

The couple met at a Sacramento, Calif., skating rink when they were both 14. They were friends for years and married at 19. They later moved to Reno.

Bryan Hower wanted to leave Reno for Florida about five years ago. In North Lakeland, Hower worked in real estate and had just started an excavation business.

Galvez, 55, said her grandchildren continue to remember their mom.

Whenever they eat chocolate ice cream, one of them always points out that it was Bonnie Hower's favorite flavor.

On Mother's Day, the children drew pictures of their mom. They used yellow yarn for their mother's blond hair.

"Falling asleep at night, they always say, I love you, Mama,'?" Galvez said.

 
 

Trial Begins for Man Accused of Killing Wife

Lakeland man said he acted in self-defense when he strangled Bonnie Hower

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

August 24, 2011

Testimony began Wednesday in the trial of a Lakeland man who says he strangled his wife last year in self-defense.

Bryan Hower, 34, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Bonnie Hower.

If convicted as charged, Bryan Hower faces life imprisonment. The trial continues today.

During Wednesday's opening statements, Assistant State Attorney Hope Pattey said Bryan and Bonnie Hower had been married for 14 years.

She said Bryan Hower wasn't acting in fear of his life when he strangled his wife.

Hower told detectives that he was upset his wife was going to leave with their two children, she said.

"He was not going to allow that to happen," she said.

The couple's 10-year-old daughter was worried because her mother was missing and her father was acting strangely, according to investigative reports.

The girl called her mother's uncle, who later reported Bonnie Hower missing.

A deputy found the body of the 33-year-old woman was found June 11, 2010, in a wooded area behind the couple's home on Timberlake Road West.

Blair Allen, one of Bryan Hower's two assistant public defenders, told jurors that her client was acting in self-defense and didn't intend to kill his wife.

Allen described Bonnie Hower as being capable of "explosive violence" and "surprising strength."

An argument took place in the garage of the couple's home and escalated into a deadly confrontation, she said.

Bryan Hower told his wife that the kids wanted to stay with him, she said.

Bonnie Hower was enraged and grabbed a knife, and Bryan Hower attempted to disarm and restrain her, Allen said.

Afterwards, Bryan Hower was filled with "shock and horror" that his wife died, and he didn't know how to tell people what happened, Allen said.

She said detectives didn't give Bryan Hower a fair opportunity to explain what took place, but they kept interrupting him and putting words into his mouth.

 
 

Police: Man Strangled Wife

Investigators say Bryan Hower of Lakeland killed Bonnie Hower because he feared she would leave, take children

By Jeremy Maready - TheLedger.com

June 12, 2010

A Lakeland man was charged Saturday with strangling his wife to death and discarding her body in a hole he dug in the couple's backyard in North Lakeland, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Bryan Hower, 33, told investigators he killed Bonnie Lynn Hower, 33, during a fight because he was afraid she would leave and take the couple's children, arrest reports said.

Bonnie Lynn Hower was reported missing about 5 p.m. Friday by her uncle, Timothy Ward, of Jacksonville. Ward said he had been called about 4 a.m. by Hower's daughter who said her mother was missing and her father was acting strange, reports said.

Ward left his Jacksonville home and drove to the couple's house at 4010 Timberlake Road W. north of Lakeland, according to investigators.

When he arrived, Bryan Hower told Ward that his wife was "gone," but told different stories about how she left, so Ward called the Sheriff's Office, the report said.

In one story, Hower told Ward she "left on foot," but then said he saw her get into someone's car and leave, the report said.

A deputy searched the area and found Bonnie Hower's body in a 4- to 5-foot deep hole in woods behind the house, according to the report.

Her purse was buried with her and a hand truck was found near the hole, reports said.

When questioned further, Bryan Hower then told investigators he strangled his wife about 3 p.m. Thursday after she came at him with a knife during an argument in the garage of their home, the report said.

Bryan Hower was arrested and charged with murder in his wife's death, the report said. He is being held without bail in the Polk County Jail. His first court appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. today.

Bryan Hower said the couple was arguing because Bonnie Hower said she was leaving him and taking the couple's children with her to the beach, the report said.

When she attacked with a knife, Bryan Hower told investigators, he blocked it and took her to the ground in a choke hold, where she tried to grab a wrench.

"He said he covered her mouth with his right hand so the children would not hear the struggle," the report said. "He said he kept squeezing her neck until she stopped moving. Hower stated after the decedent stopped moving, he placed her body in the hole.

"Hower stated multiple times he felt he needed to kill the decedent in order to prevent her from taking their children away from him."

News of Hower's death Saturday stunned neighbors, who said they didn't know the couple well.

Neighbor Hunter Foskey said the couple always seemed cordial, but he never really got to know them.

Foskey would see the couple riding their two horses through the neighborhood and would wave in passing, he said. There was never any indication that there was anything wrong.

"I don't know. These days, it doesn't seem there needs to be something wrong for things to be wrong," he said. "It's such a pointless death."

State records show the couple operated their own company, Red Rock Solutions, that advertised "land and tractor services," such as excavating, mowing and stump removal.

The children, 7 and 10 years old, were placed into the custody of a neighbor Friday night, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is handling the custody issues involving the couple's children.

Family members, who live out of state, have been contacted and are on their way to Lakeland, said DCF spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner. "Hopefully this is an interim temporary placement until the family gets here."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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