DPS officer accused of child molestation commits suicide
A veteran Department of Public Safety officer committed suicide Wednesday near Yuma after being informed that he was under investigation for sexual abuse and child molestation.
Deputies responded Wednesday evening to a 911 call about a dead person found at Adair Park Shooting Range northeast of Yuma, according to Capt. Eben Bratcher, spokesman for the Yuma County Sheriff's Office. Bratcher said deputies arrived on scene and found the body of James Howard, who had died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Howard had served as a DPS officer assigned to the Roll area.
Bratcher that said on Wednesday morning, investigators from the sheriff's office had served a search warrant at Howard's residence, located in the 38100 Block of Kumquat Dr. Drive in Roll, in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation.
“We met with him and informed him of the allegations and the pending search warrant,” Bratcher said.
Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents were also on scene assisting YCSO.
The investigation, according to Bratcher, began in early August after an adult female reported that she had been molested and continuously sexually abused as a child by Howard 20-25 years ago.
Bratcher said Howard was not taken into custody and was released after meeting with the investigators.
Bart Graves, media relations coordinator for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said Howard had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
Graves said Howard had been with DPS since 1985 and had spent his entire career in the Yuma area.
The case remains under investigation.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.