Naomi Jones, 12, had been missing for five days until her body was discovered in a stream near her Pensacola home on Monday. Robert Letroy Howard, 38, with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and failing to register as a sex offender.
When Naomi Jones went missing from her home in Escambia County, Florida, authorities hoped to find her and return her securely. However, the storey took a sad turn a few days later when her death was discovered by fishermen about five miles from her home.
‘True Conviction: The Loss of Innocence,’ a documentary on Investigation Discovery, explores Naomi’s murder and how the subsequent investigation was able to bring the criminal to justice. Let’s take a closer look at this intriguing case and try to figure out where Naomi’s killer is right now.
What Caused Naomi Jones’ Death?
Naomi Jones was just twelve years old when she was murdered, and she was the joy of her family’s life. Her friends and family cherished her and described her as a fun-loving, free-spirited young lady who always greeted strangers with a grin.
She was also an excellent student with a number of lofty ambitions that she couldn’t wait to realise. Naomi’s tragic death stunned the community, and she is still sadly missed today.
Naomi was last seen in the Aspen Village Apartments in Escambia County, Florida, where she and her family lived. On May 31, 2017, her family reported her missing, triggering a huge search-and-rescue mission.
In their search for the missing girl, law enforcement officers and local residents combed a large three-mile radius. Authorities also followed up on a number of tips and conducted multiple interviews.
Local fishermen were hunting for a good fishing area along Eight Mile Creek, roughly five miles from the victim’s home, on June 5, 2017, when they discovered Naomi’s body and promptly contacted authorities.
The cops spotted bruising along her right elbow and right leg at first inspection, as well as a piece of duct tape and a plastic material stuck to her hair. Although an autopsy could not pinpoint the cause of death, a closer medical check later discovered the presence of ethanol in her system.
Her death, however, could have been caused by asphyxiation, according to a search warrant application from the Escambia County sheriff’s office.
Who Killed Naomi Jones and Why?
The initial inquiry hit a few snags since no one could figure out why someone would target a twelve-year-old. Even after multiple interviews with Naomi’s acquaintances, the police struggled to come up with a suspect list because there were no eyewitness testimonies or proper leads.
Officers investigating the crime scene discovered, however, that CCTV cameras from nearby businesses covered the section of the creek where the victim’s body was discovered. So law enforcement authorities watched through hours of film from the night of Naomi’s disappearance, seeking to spot anything unusual, after obtaining a warrant for the tape.
— ActionNewsJax (@ActionNewsJax) June 8, 2017
Officers eventually saw a certain automobile in the neighbourhood, and their patience paid off. The automobile was tracked back to Robert Letroy Howard, and the cops discovered that he resided near Naomi’s apartment building.
Authorities grabbed Howard and began questioning him about Naomi’s murder, believing he was complicit in the crime. However, Howard admitted to killing the twelve-year-old when being interrogated, claiming that he strangled Naomi before throwing her from the bridge.
Authorities were finally able to charge Robert with Naomi’s murder after receiving a confession.
What Happened to Robert Letroy Howard and Where Is He Now?
Despite Robert’s defence attempts to have his confession thrown out, the judge hearing the case found that police officers had obtained it legally. Even still, once in court, Howard maintained his innocence and entered a not guilty plea.
— ActionNewsJax (@ActionNewsJax) June 8, 2017
The jury, however, refused to toe his line and instead found him guilty of first-degree murder. As a result, Howard was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2021, based on his conviction.
As a result, Robert remains confined in the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution Annex in Santa Rosa County, Florida, with no chance of parole in sight.
Rest in peace Naomi Jones. 12 years old. Big sister. Daughter. Words are hard to find when I think of your end. You were vibrant, kind and oh, so loved! Your mom Shantara and your family keep your memory burning bright with their words, love & strength. 💔❤️ #TrueConviction pic.twitter.com/L5UfBGVRxD
— Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi (@AnnaSiggaNico) March 30, 2022