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Attacker released from jail days before killing

Man was charged with punching his psychiatrist

Published: Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST
Theodore "Ted" Howard
Josephine "Jo" Howard

DIXON – Just 9 days before a 27-year-old killed his grandmother and then himself at their rural Dixon home, he was arrested for punching a KSB Hospital psychiatrist in the face, repeatedly, according to court documents.

Theodore “Ted” Howard was charged Aug. 24 with misdemeanor battery and released the next day on a $3,000 bond, paid for by his mother.

Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller wouldn’t disclose what had sparked a June 26 fight that led to the charge, but said Howard “wasn’t happy with something that [the psychiatrist] had told him.”

Howard was living in the home at 1612 Joliet Way with his grandmother, Josephine “Jo” Howard, and other family members, when she was killed Tuesday.

Wednesday would have been her 72nd birthday.

Her daughter, Shirley Bender, 51, said Wednesday that her son – who had a history of mental illness and was on a variety of medications – “just snapped.”

“The doctors keep changing his meds,” she said.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home in Woodland Shores about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a 911 call about a man in the front yard holding a knife.

When they arrived, Ted Howard was found covered in blood. Authorities took the knife from him before he was taken to KSB Hospital, where he died of self-inflicted stab wounds.

Deputies found the body of Jo Howard inside the home; she had been stabbed repeatedly.

They were the only two people at home at the time, State’s Attorney Sacco-Miller said.

Bender said that her mother had been sitting at the computer when she was attacked, and that there was no sign of a struggle.

Sacco-Miller disagreed. She said investigators think there was a fight because items in the home were broken.

Ted Howard was found guilty in Lee County of possession of drug paraphernalia in 2012 and of theft in 2006. According to his Facebook page, he went to high school in Sacramento, California, and was a fan of metal bands, wrestling, and TV shows like “South Park” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

His grandmother ran a business called Jo’s Sea Blooms; she made home decor items, such as floral wall decor and sailors valentines, out of seashells. The last post to the business’s Facebook page is from June 2013, but just before then, she wrote about her love for the art.

“I grew up on the west coast [and] spent a lot of time on the beaches of Oregon,” she wrote. “Couldn’t get enough sea shells. Spent a lot of time daydreaming of owning those pretty shells I saw in gifts shops. In 1971, I got my chance, my husband was sent to Okinawa. With five kids and husband in tow we spent every spare moment looking for shells. I have a nice collection and I add to it for my kids. Beside identifying and classifying, I wanted to do more with them.”

That’s when she started using the shells to make floral designs.

Her and her grandson’s deaths are being investigated by the sheriff’s department and Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigators.

Woodland Shores is 6 miles west of Dixon off Rock Island Road.

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