A Kitchener man is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Elmira’s Erin Howlett.
Michael John William Ball, 22, appeared in bail court on Thursday after being held in custody overnight after police made the arrest Wednesday. He was arraigned on a total of 36 charges including committing an indignity to a human body, in connection to the murder.
The arrest came a week after police confirmed the 28-year-old Elmira woman was a victim of homicide. Investigators say Howlett and Ball were acquaintances. Waterloo Regional Police are not anticipating any more arrests in the case, said spokesperson Olaf Heinzel.
“We believe the person who was arrested is solely responsible for her death unless new information comes about, but at this point that appears to be the case. We just wanted to make the community aware of an important development in the case.”
Other charges against Ball include and more than 20 weapons- and drug-related charges unconnected to the murder case.
Family and friends of the victim were in court Thursday to hear the charges. Howlett’s brother Dane Howlett did not expect the case to come to a head this soon.
“It was difficult for me and my family to see the accused in court face to face. A lot of emotions are experienced when that happens.
“I’m putting my faith in our justice system and I’m hoping if this person is responsible he does get punished to the full extent of the law.”
Ball was remanded in custody after the day-long proceedings and ordered to have no contact with several potential witnesses and people close to the victim. His next court appearance is scheduled for November 26.
Police confirmed Howlett died as a result of foul play on November 15.
Due to evidence collected on scene where she was found in Kitchener and help from the public, detectives were able to confirm their suspicions that the 28-year-old met with foul play in July.
Police recovered Howlett’ s body July 5 from the Grand River near Riverbend Drive in Kitchener after a group of teenagers made the discovery. Since then, police have explored a number of leads and reached out to the public.
Ball posted a message on his Facebook page on July 7 which read: “Rest In Peace Erin, you will be truly missed and never forgotten. My heart goes out to your family.”
Howlett, who worked at Elmira’s Sip ‘N Bite Restaurant was reported missing when she failed to contact her family after heading to Toronto for a short trip over the long weekend. She was last seen alive on June 27.
The accused lived in a basement apartment of a Chestnut Street home where two search warrants executed earlier in the investigation, police confirmed.
Alos during the investigation, images of two potential witnesses, a man and a woman were released by the WRPS earlier in the year, but the individuals were found to have no connection to the case. Police and a Gravenhurst underwater unit also searched Trillium Natural Area in Kitchener in connection to Howlett on October 2. Police also asked the public’s help to locate Howlett’s green Coach bag, an item likely with her prior to her death and a possible clue.
Investigators reviewed the results of the post-mortem and forensic analysis, but did not release any details. The cause of death is known to police, but that information will not be released at this time to preserve the integrity of upcoming judicial proceedings. Tips and the sharing of other case-pertinent information is still being welcomed and members of the community can contact homicide detectives at 519-650-8500, ext. 8767 or leave a tip anonymously with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.