Man charged with first-degree murder in triple homicide in Kansas City; faces other charges

  • Article by: BILL DRAPER , Associated Press
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 3:05 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A 34-year-old Missouri man with a long criminal history was charged Wednesday with killing three people and critically injuring two others during an attempt to steal a car in south Kansas City.

Brandon Howell was armed when he was arrested shortly before midnight Tuesday by officers investigating an assault on three people at a motel on the city's north side, police said. An SUV that went missing from the scene of the killings was found near the motel.

The shooting victims were identified Wednesday as Alice Hurst, 88; her son, Darrel Hurst, 63; and Susan Choucroun, 69. Darrel Hurst had been visiting his mother on the quiet street.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Howell also faces charges of first-degree assault, burglary, car theft and felon in possession of a firearm for critically injuring two others in the neighborhood. Police also said Howell assaulted three people at a north-side motel.

Howell is being held in the Jackson County jail. Kansas court records show he was paroled in 2011 after a conviction for a home invasion in Johnson County, Kansas.

Howell, of Kansas City, was acquitted in 2009 in the killings of two Kansas teenagers. One victim's body was later found buried outside a Kansas City home being renovated by Howell's father; the other body has never been found.

Howell was also convicted of an October 1999 home invasion robbery in Johnson County, Kansas, in which one victim was cut on the hand and a cat was killed.

Peters Baker said Howell had a shotgun on him at the time of his arrest, which was the same one he bought in January 2000, eight months before pleading guilty to several charges and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

According to a probable cause statement, officers were called at 12:50 p.m. Tuesday to a home where they found Suzanne Choucroun in a driveway, dead of a gunshot. A man and woman were found in the home's basement, severely beaten.

Police then went house-to-house and found Darryl and Alice Hurst shot to death in the yard of Alice Hurst's nearby home.

The other two victims, George and Anna Taylor, remained hospitalized Wednesday and were fighting for their lives, Peters Baker said.

"They went to bed last night with a nightmare, and they woke up to their very worst nightmare," Peters Baker said of the families who lost loved ones. "Three families are struck with an unimaginable grief at the hands of a single individual."

The Hurst family said in a statement that Darrel was visiting his mother.

"While we are unsure of all the events that transpired that day, but we are comforted knowing they are together," the statement said. "Our prayers go out to the other families and victims in the neighborhood as they are struggling to deal with their grief as well. Our hearts are broken and we ask for privacy during this difficult time."

Choucroun's husband, Charles, owns the Leawood Beauty Salon. A message at the business Wednesday said it would be closed until Sept. 10 "due to the recent tragic shooting resulting in the death of Charles' wife, Susan."

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