KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A man concealed the bodies of his two young daughters in a plastic container in the back seat of his car before killing himself, authorities said Friday.
Richard Howard, 32, apparently shot himself Thursday after a Tennessee Valley Authority police officer approached him as he sat in his car at the Bull Run fossil plant near Oak Ridge.
The officer checked Howard's license tag and found he was wanted on rape charges. When the officer returned he found him slumped over the steering wheel.
A handwritten suicide note found in Howard's car helped officers later discover the girls' bodies in a storage box covered with blankets.
Authorities said Howard indicated in the note that he had killed the girls, though other details were not released.
"The note that he left is somewhat self-explanatory as to why he committed these crimes," said Bob Denney, an agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Preliminary examinations did not indicate how Brionna, 3, and Markayla, 2, died, TVA spokesman John Moulton said. Autopsies were planned.
The 6-foot-8, 335-pound Howard played football for three years at the University of Tennessee after redshirting in 1992. He transferred to Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City for his senior season.
He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent for rookie mini-camp in April 1997 but was released by June.
Howard had lived until last year in Clarksville, where he had worked as a bodyguard and a bounty hunter, he told a newspaper for a February article. He then moved back to Oak Ridge with his daughters.
His estranged wife and mother of his daughters, Amanda Walters, remained in Clarksville, authorities said. A phone listing for Walters could not be found and she could not be reached for comment.
Howard was indicted in November on rape charges stemming from an incident in July with a 15-year-old girl who was a baby sitter, Clarksville police Detective Vincent Lewis said. He was not arrested because he had already left Clarksville.