Pierce County sheriff’s detectives are investigating the death of a 38-year-old Orting man.
Michael S. Howard was hit on the head early on March 9 in his Orting-area home. He died from his injuries Saturday at St. Joseph Medical Center, the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office reported today.
Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said deputies responded to the scene the morning Howard was injured. Detectives later followed up with search warrants.
Howard’s death is being investigated as a homicide. No arrests have been reported.
We’ll update this blog post when more details become available.
UPDATE: Pierce County sheriff’s investigators were initially called to Howard’s home in the 17700 block of 147th Avenue East about 4:30 a.m. March 9. Howard’s girlfriend called 911 after he’d been hit by an unknown attacker.
Howard was conscious when deputies arrived. They interviewed him about what happened, Troyer said.
Howard heard something suspicious outside, armed himself with a can of bear spray and went to investigate. Howard confronted someone outside and was hit in the head with an object.
Howard could not provide a description to deputies. He told investigators he was a medical marijuana patient but when they asked him about about that, he declined to answer any further questions, Troyer said.
The girlfriend reportedly told deputies there had been other attempted robberies at the home. Some were not reported previously.
Howard was taken to the hospital for treatment. His condition worsened.
Meanwhile, his step-father called deputies after finding a crowbar on Howard’s property. The crowbar was collected as evidence Wednesday but Troyer said investigators are unsure if he was used in the attack on Howard.
Detectives served a search warrant on Howard’s property and found 150 marijuana grow plants. They also found booby traps around the home.
Howard died on Saturday from his injuries.
Investigators from the homicide team, special investigations and intelligence were working on the case.
“We are looking at other robberies there and other incidents this guy has been involved in,” Troyer said.
Howard was convicted of third-degree assault Feb. 23 after he pepper-sprayed a man who’d come to shut off his power, according to court documents. The incident occurred Nov. 17. Howard was in Pierce County Jail from Jan. 5 until Feb. 24, Troyer said.
“This is extraordinary circumstances,” Troyer said. “It’s very complicated.”
“We’ve been working on the case and it just continues to get more complicated due to nobody telling the truth, half-truths or possibly being involved or suspects,” Troyer said.