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Document: Scott County man burned mother's body, two dogs in car

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Neil Howland Jr.
BENTON, Mo. -- Authorities accuse a Scott City man of strangling his mother, then burning her two dogs alive along with her body to cover up the crime.

Murder charges were filed Monday and announced by the sheriff's department Tuesday against Neil Howland Jr. after his mother's body was found in a burning car off Scott County Road 323 on Aug. 7.

Howland is charged with first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, knowingly burning a vehicle and abandonment of a corpse, according to a probable-cause affidavit signed by Lt. Jerry Bledsoe of the Scott County Sheriff's Department. He is in the Scott County Jail without bond. The murder charge carries a life sentence if he is convicted.

Howland is charged with killing his mother, Cynthia Canoy of Scott City, on Aug. 7 by strangling her with a dog leash. Howland transported her body and two of Canoy's dogs to a field near the county road and set the vehicle on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence, according to the affidavit.

On Aug. 7, crews responding to a car fire off County Road 323 discovered a body in the car and called the sheriff's department. Sheriff Rick Walter activated the SEMO Major Case Squad for an investigation. Because of the condition of the body, authorities did not release the victim's identity until Aug. 14 because they awaited confirmation through DNA tests. An autopsy showed Canoy died before the fire.

Howland was questioned Aug. 10 as a person of interest while he already was in jail on another charge of threatening his mother and her husband.

During questioning, Howland admitted he killed his mother at their home at 919 Oak St. in Scott City after he sent his girlfriend and son out for gas, the probable-cause statement said. Authorities say Howland strangled his mother and left her in an upstairs room until his girlfriend left for work, then put her lifeless body into the back of her SUV with her two pets and drove to a corn field, setting the vehicle ablaze after dousing the exterior and interior with gasoline. He walked back to his house, the probable-cause statement said.

Howland was arrested Aug. 9 on charges of third-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon stemming from a May 18 incident in which Canoy and her husband, Jerry Canoy, told police Howland had threatened them with a machete and firearms, and they feared for their lives.

Cynthia and Jerry Canoy did not immediately pursue charges after the May incident for fear of retaliation, according to a probable-cause statement filed by Scott City police officer Amber Saupe. Jerry Canoy contacted Saupe on Aug. 1 and said he wanted to pursue charges, but the charges were not filed against Howland until Aug. 9 -- two days after Cynthia Canoy's body was found.

On June 30, Jerry Canoy was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault in connection with an altercation with Howland at 919 Oak St. The victim's name was redacted from the report, but was identified as Cynthia Canoy's son.

A Scott City police report shows Howland was arrested Aug. 5, two days before Cynthia Canoy's death, on a Jackson warrant. Lt. Casey Dodd of the Scott City Police Department said there were no additional outstanding warrants for Howland's arrest at the time, so he was in custody for about one hour.

Sheriff Rick Walter said once the burned vehicle found Aug. 7 was identified, investigators began piecing together the case.

"The car was so badly burned, there were no license plates left or VIN numbers to go by, but evidence taken from the vehicle led us to addresses for questioning," Walter said.

Documents inside the vehicle also led investigators to believe it belonged to Cynthia Canoy, Bledsoe wrote in his probable-cause document.

Howland is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment at 9 a.m. today. Court records show public defender Amy Commean is representing Howland for his assault charges, but the Southeast Missourian was unable to verify whether she would represent him for the new charges as of Tuesday afternoon. Commean was out of the office Tuesday afternoon.

Walter said investigators continue to pursue other leads in the case and asked that anyone with information call the Scott County Sheriff's Department at 573-545-3525.



Pertinent address:

County Road 323, Kelso, MO

Benton, MO

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This isn't even a human thing to do. What a monster. Evil.... Tell me why any girl in her right mind would find this man worthy of procreating with?

-- Posted by Bahama on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 12:23 PM

It is quite concerning the suspect was not arrested after "charges [were] filed on Aug. 1, less than a week before Cynthia Canoy's body was found".

-- Posted by survivalist on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 12:57 PM

He was in jail on August 5th and released on bond after an hour.

-- Posted by TEX97 on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 4:37 PM

Tex, That was on a Jackson warrant, not on the Scott city/county assault charges. As reported, it appears Scott city/county dropped the ball.

-- Posted by persnickety on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 5:08 PM

This Scum bag needs the needle and not life. He

has lost the right to live.


-- Posted by Chochise on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 5:25 PM

Bet the husband wishes they had pressed charges now. And why is this just a life sentence and not death penalty?

-- Posted by mo55 on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 6:39 PM

To MO55. The husband did try to press charges multiple times. Scott city wanted us to sign a release of liability. So now they are liable for what has happened and if they would have done something she wouldn't be dead.

-- Posted by TheAdvocate on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 8:13 PM

Typical idiots, blame everyone but the criminal.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 9:50 PM

anyone know where he works/worked? he looks familiar

-- Posted by wuzthinking on Tue, Aug 20, 2013, at 9:58 PM

I'm like Cochise. Why is this just a life sentence. Shouldn't it be a death sentence. He obviously did planned this!

-- Posted by Spinning on Wed, Aug 21, 2013, at 8:30 AM

Spinning and mo55:

The death penalty can be asked for in this case, but prosecutors have to make a decision to seek it.

-- Posted by Matt Sanders on Wed, Aug 21, 2013, at 11:00 AM

They need to seek it. This was awful.

-- Posted by mo55 on Wed, Aug 21, 2013, at 2:28 PM

He doesn't deserve a defense paid for by the taxpayers. Anyone that can kill their own mother and then burn her up has no conscience and does not deserve to live in prison on tax payers dollars. Death penalty all the way, society doesn't need him to kill again in or out of prison he is a dangerous threat to everyone.

-- Posted by Ramfan#1 on Wed, Aug 21, 2013, at 2:54 PM


what is so VERY concerning is my brother tried from JUNE 30th to have a complaint filed against this man

made numerous, documented phone calls explaining that he WANTED a complaint filed he was denied this until her body was found

way late to help Cindy!

Freedom we do hold the accused/admitted guilty one responsible, we also know had action been taken in a TIMELY manner this situation would have a very different outcome

-- Posted by DaffyD on Sat, Aug 24, 2013, at 11:45 AM

I definitely do blame the criminal by all means. Just because we know that we could've had a little protection from the police does not make anybody an idiot. How rude. Like DaffyD said there could've been a different outcome in this horrible situation.

-- Posted by TheAdvocate on Sun, Aug 25, 2013, at 3:30 PM

BTW all the "charges" against (Bub) Jerry Canoy where later dismissed (spelling) noile prosqui

-- Posted by DaffyD on Fri, Nov 8, 2013, at 2:11 PM

Sis I love you! Saw a lady who looked like Cindy from the side today and started crying because I know that we will never see her again! Thanks for helping Bub. Does Cindy's grave have a tombstone on it?

Mo 55 you don't know what all Neil did do if you knew it would shock you to death! He is not really a man he is a pscho!He should have already been in custody for beating up bub so if you don't mind get your facts straight before you open your venus fly trap!

-- Posted by bef on Tue, Mar 11, 2014, at 9:47 PM

How far is Scott County Road 323 from 919 oak street ? Why is his girlfriend not being charged as a accessory after-the-fact ? What did she think she was getting gas for? How could she not know something had happened when getting back from getting the gas, you murder your mother by choking her, it takes several minuted to kill someone in this manner, not like on tv, where they die a fast death, Also, why has social services not been brought in due to the living conditions of the house at the time, from what I understand there was dog feces and cat feces all over the house for the young child to be crawling in, playing in etc... because Cindy was the only provider ,they had run of the house because she was gone a lot driving a rig (someone had to pay the bills) also why was there not charges of animal cruelty.. Cruelty to a corpse, lying to investigators, torture ? Premeditation ? Why are they not trying to rack every charge they can against this punk ?? I think the girlfriend knew a lot more than they are saying, how did his lazy *** take her upstairs ( again, I think he had help from his girlfriend) they should nail her to the wall also..

-- Posted by Bubba69 on Fri, Jan 16, 2015, at 10:59 PM

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