Colorado man arrested, accused of making death threats to Benton County judge and probation officer

Theodore Howell
Theodore Howell

BENTONVILLE -- A Denver man was arrested Monday and accused of threatening to kill Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren and a probation officer.

Theodore Howell, 29, was arrested on charges of threatening a judicial officer and terroristic threatening.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green presided over Monday's bond hearing for Howell.

Green found probable cause to hold Howell on the felony charges. She ordered Howell to be held without bond in a probation revocation case and $500,000 cash only in the latest arrest.

Nathan Jeffrey, a probation officer, reported to the Benton County sheriff's office he received a text message threatening to kill him from Howell, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Jeffrey said he knew the phone belonged to Howell because it was the same phone number Howell had down for being on probation and Jeffrey had communicated with Howell in the past using that number, according to the affidavit.

The sheriff's office has a website where there's a contact form request option which can be submitted by anyone, according to the affidavit.

There were three contact request forms that had threats directed at Karren and one form with threats directed at Jeffrey, according to court documents.

The threats made in the requests were connected to Howell, according to the affidavit.

Howell said in the first form he planned to kill Karren when he's walking to court and Karren would never expect it, according to the affidavit. Howell said he planned to kill Jeffrey at the probation office, the affidavit says.

Howell described Karren as transphobic in the second request form, according to court documents. Howell said he planned to kill Karren with a knife while he was walking to court, according to the affidavit.

"I've been arrested for threats before so this time I will act on it," a message on the form states.

Howell said he planned to kill Karren because Arkansas was mean to trans people and the jail was "super" mean to him the last time he was held there, according to the affidavit.

"I will literally hit him with a hammer [then] run away and no will expect me because y'all are too stupid to find me," the affidavit quotes Howell as saying.

Michael Braswell, a detective with the sheriff's office, interviewed Howell, who first claimed he had been hacked and someone else made the threats, according to the affidavit.

Howell later admitted texting Jeffrey and making the threats to Karren, the affidavit says. It says Howell said he was never going to follow through with the threats and didn't know why he did it.

He was arrested in November 2021 after attempting to enter secured areas of the Bentonville Police Department. He was dressed as a woman and armed with a knife, according to court documents.

He pleaded guilty in November and was placed on six years of state-supervised probation. He was also ordered to seek mental health treatment.

Prosecutors filed a motion Friday to revoke Howell's bond. He turned himself in, and he was booked at 11:28 p.m. Friday into the Benton County jail.

Howell told the judge at Monday's hearing he's unemployed and had been living in Colorado.

Green appointed the Benton County public defender's office to represent Howell. Howell's arraignment is scheduled for 8 a.m. April 17.

Threats of violence against Karren have been reported in the past and in at least one case led to a conviction.

In December 2019, a Springdale woman was sentenced to 40 years in prison for trying to hire a man to kill Karren and another man. Dorris Jenkins, then 38 years old, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder.

  photo  Theodore Howell

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