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Decomposing body found in Rockville home, son arrested

Charging documents say family members were concerned after the man had not been heard from since October 2020.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — A man has been arrested after the decomposing body of his elderly father was found in the bedroom of a home in Rockville, Maryland. 

According to probable cause documents released by Montgomery County Police, officers were called to a home on Bready Road in Rockville last week to check on the welfare of Gary W. Howes. His sister-in-law told police that Gary W. Howes was in extremely poor health and she had frequent phone calls with him until phone lines were disconnected. 

According to the sister-in-law, Gary W. Howes was living with his son, Gary D. Howes, at the house on Bready Road and they were the only two people living there. Family members told police the last time anyone had been in touch with him was in October 2020, and that Gary D. Howes would either not answer the door or refused to let them in the house when family members came to check on the elder Howes.

Gary W. Howes' sister-in-law told police that the younger Howes was responsible for taking his father to doctor appointments and picking up medication. 

Montgomery County Police detectives interviewed Gary W. Howes' doctors and learned they had also not heard from or seen him in several months, the documents say. 

When officers went to the Bready Road home to check on Gary W. Howes on Sept. 7, they found the home locked and the doors and windows covered. Officers spoke to Gary D. Howes, who refused to let the officers in the house. While speaking to him, an officer was able to see inside the home and noted cleaning supplies and plastic wrap inside the home, according to the documents. 

When asked about the welfare of his father, Gary D. Howes said he was in West Virginia visiting a friend named Michael Ottz. Investigators learned that Ottz had died in 2016, the documents say. 

Further investigation found that Gary D. Howes had spent a lot of time in May and August of this year at an antique mall in Olney, where the documents say he sold numerous items from the home for cash, telling an associate at an antique store that his father had died.

Detectives also interviewed several neighbors around the Bready Road home, who had also not seen Gary W. Howes for at least eight months, according to the charging documents. 

Based on the investigation, detectives applied for and received a search warrant for the home.

On Sept. 9, officers executed the search warrant. On that day, Gary D. Howes again told detectives that his father was fine and traveling in West Virginia.

The documents say detectives entered the home and immediately smelled "the odor of human decomposition." Detectives opened a bedroom door and found the decomposing body thought to be Gary W. Howes inside. 

For all of us, neighbors and family members of vulnerable adults, Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy says there's a very clear message. 

"If you're worried about a senior, and you haven't seen them, check on them," McCarthy said. "Don't take no for an answer."

The documents say that Gary D. Howes has been charged with neglect of a vulnerable adult that resulted in death and/or serious physical injury, If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison. 

On Monday in District Court, the State asked that Gary D. Howes be held without bond based on the factors described in the statement of charges. The judge gave Howes an unsecured personal bond of $10,000 with specific release conditions including 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. At last check, Howes was still detained.

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