Local News

Warrant details why slain insurance examiner was auditing agency

Posted May 29, 2008

— The state examiner apparently killed while auditing a Charlotte insurance agency was reviewing its business practices after a carrier withdrew its agreement with the agency, according to a search warrant.

GMAC Insurance notified the state Department of Insurance in April that it terminated its contract with Dilworth Insurance Agency because of rejected electronic fund transfers and concerns about late customer payments being remitted in a different amount than Dilworth had received.

Sallie Rohrbach traveled to Charlotte on Monday, May 12 to conduct a target investigation of the Dilworth's records, an affidavit in the May 27 warrant for the agency's records, said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police found her body nine days later in a wooded area in Fort Mill, S.C., 25 miles from the insurance agency.

The agency's owner, Michael Arthur Howell, 40, is charged with first-degree murder in her death.

The search warrant, released Thursday, further states Rohrbach sent an e-mail to her supervisor, Roy Foster, on Tuesday, May 13, saying she was reviewing bank records in the agency showing unremitted premiums to GMAC.

"It appears from Rohrbach's email [sic] communications that Dillworth Insurance Agency had multiple issues concerning Insurance Premiums paid by innocent consumers," the affidavit stated.

Rohrbach also told her supervisor in the e-mail that Howell kept the agency's records off premises and that he would bring them to the agency the following day.

The warrant does not say whether there was any further communication between Rohrbach and Foster.

Rohrbach was reported missing on Friday, May 16 after she failed to keep appointments with friends and coworkers.

In a May 19 search warrant released Tuesday, investigators found traces of blood on carpet and a computer cord inside Howell's agency. Investigators have said evidence in her car and Howell's vehicle connected him to the homicide.

They have not released further details about the case, but sources within the police department have told CBS affiliate WBTV that Rohrbach died from blunt force trauma and that the slaying occurred inside Howell's office.

Howell is being held in a Charlotte jail without bond.


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  • devilwabluedresson Jun 3, 2008

    Not just state employees work in harms way. I work for county govt-DSS and it can be dangerous too.

  • MizzZeta Jun 3, 2008

    I know there's no accounting for logic in the criminal mind, but this just makes no sense! So, now, instead being investigated for fraudulent activity he'll be on trial for murder. Not to mention, a woman has lost her life and a family has lost a wife, daughter, friend, etc. This is just crazy!

  • teacher-mom May 29, 2008

    Why doesn't he save us the money and his family the grief and admit what he did?

  • The Fox May 29, 2008

    A lot of State employees work in harms way everyday.

  • carolina2 May 29, 2008

    did you see this?

    Public defender appointed for suspect in Rohrbach case

    Posted: Today at 5:17 p.m.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A public defender was appointed for a man charged with killing a state insurance investigator who was auditing his Charlotte business.

    A District Court judge had initially denied 40-year-old Michael Howell of Indian Trail a public defender, saying he could afford his own attorney. But attorneys asked the court to reconsider, arguing Thursday that Howell was in debt. They said his income was $6,000 a month, but his debts totaled more than $7,000.

    Judge Todd Owens says he granted the state-funded defense because it became clear Howell didn't have the money to defend himself in a capital murder case.

    This is ridiculous. Where is all the money now?

  • shine May 29, 2008

    Don't like to wish bad luck, but it would better for this guy to get put into a general cell block - rather than solitary. The jail internet runs quick and I bet you somebody would
    re work the floor with him.

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ May 29, 2008

    Sad for the family of the lost love one. It would be interesting to read the suspect's security background check ... he may have had some past criminal history that we just do not know about.

  • simracer68 May 29, 2008

    "That sounds like a crime to me, so why didn't they go ahead and send their investigators instead of an auditor?"

    Probably for similar reasons to that of legal investigations by the police, et al. There is a protocol that has to be followed or else anything they find could be considered tainted or otherwise thrown out for lack of following said protocol or procedure. Sure, it sounds like a crime "now", but "then" it was just a matter for an auditor (simply a complaint by a national carrier). Unfortunately, hindsight is always 20/20.

  • rwbe May 29, 2008

    Lady Justice you are missing nothing. It is very correct to assume he had and was committing crimes. I worked for an insurance company (not the State Insurance Department) as a fraud and arson invetsigator for several years. Independent agents such as in this case collect premium payments from insured clients and then instead of sending in the money to the carrier they convert it to there own personal use. These amounts can run into the thousands of dollars. The largest amount I can remember invetsigating totaled just over $250,000.00. What we did was simple, we as the carrier investigated the agent then sent it to the insurance department for the criminal investigators. Some states have laws that require a compny have so many inside per the number of policies they have written. The last year I remember the figures for insurance fraud was over 19 billion dollars and those figures were not correct that is just what they could track and knew about.

  • baileysmom3 May 29, 2008

    who would do this? it makes no sense.