Melissa Howard Murder Mystery Explained | Where is David Russell Holbrook Jr. Now?

This murder committed by a young, recently divorced mother went unsolved for over a decade until the discovery of new evidence from the biological side led police to the suspect. Investigation Discovery’s “Reasonable Doubt: Murder Without Motive’ explores the events that led to Melissa Howard’s death and the way police narrowed their focus on the perpetrator and convicted him. If you’re looking to know more about the case, this is what we know about.

How Did Melissa Howard Die?

Melissa Lynn was born in May 1972 to Janet Beal Gilsdorf. She was a mother to three children. I was an RN in the North Okaloosa Regional Medical Center in Florida. Melissa has been described as a strong, well-built, active woman who emphasizes caring for her kids. At the moment of the incident, she was divorced at the age of 33 from her husband, Brian Howard, and had been awarded custody over their infant son Taylor.

On January 6, 2006, Melissa’s daughter discovered her mother not breathing in the family’s home in Crestview, Florida. This 911 phone call came from Melissa’s former boyfriend, Chris Cadenhead. Melissa was discovered lying face down on the ground in the pool of blood. She was brutally beaten and repeatedly stabbed. There was a force trauma of blunt force on her head, and her throat was cut.

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Who Killed Melissa Howard?

There was no sign of forced entry to this location, and the robbery didn’t seem to be the cause Melissa’s purse and other belongings were in the residence. The investigation found out the fact that Chris was the only person to speak to Melissa via phone at 8:50 pm on January 6, 2006. The time was when Chris was already married as well as was engaged in being involved in a relationship in a relationship with Melissa. His wife, however, claimed that he had returned home between 9:15 pm and 9:00 midnight that night. The authorities found out that Melissa had divorced Brian for a period of about three years and was going through a long custody dispute with Taylor.

According to reports, she had been granted custody weeks before the murder. Based on the circumstances, police began to investigate Brian. However, he did not have an unbreakable alibi and was ruled out instantly. The police then investigated David Russell Holbrook Jr., A acquaintance of Brian’s, who knew Melissa. Jennifer Knudson, one of Melissa’s closest friends, told police that David suddenly dropped at Melissa’s house a few weeks before that murder.

At that time, Melissa had been on the line with Jennifer, and Jennifer was able to recall that incident, which made both of them feel uncomfortable. When David was quizzed on his phone, he said he was at an event on January 6. However, he claimed it was only briefly that he left to drop his children off at their mother’s house and then purchase medication at Walmart. Then he returned to the celebration. It was unfortunate that there was no physical evidence or indication of a motive back then, and the case was dismissed without any arrests.

In May of 2015, the authorities were able to look into the matter again. The sweatshirt Melissa was wearing was sent for analysis. DNA evidence from the sweatshirt was consistent with David, putting him on the scene. The surveillance cameras of Walmart caught him at about 9:35 pm, and it was apparent that he was acting strangely, possibly trying to clean the blood off his hands. Additionally, officials were skeptical of David’s shifting claims. He first said he’d never met Melissa for a long time before claiming that he had visited her house just two days before the murder. David was detained at the workplace where he worked in November of 2016.

Where is David Russell Holbrook Jr. Today?

The prosecution was primarily focused on DNA evidence, and Melissa’s lawyer testified. Melissa said they spoke on the phone for two days before Melissa’s death. The conversation occurred when Melissa spoke about David challenging her over custody of Taylor, and she believed Brian had brought him to demand she surrender custody. “You have to let this boy go to his father. Also, let it be,” David allegedly said.

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The defense claimed that the DNA was derived from David, who was visiting Melissa recently. They also attempted to blame Chris, who was Chris’s husband. However, in February of 2019, David was found guilty of murder in the first degree and then sentenced to life in prison. According to the court records, he is in the Gulf Correctional Institution in Wewahitchka, Florida.

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