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Warrant details why slain insurance examiner was auditing agency

Sallie Rohrbach was auditing Michael Howell's agency after a national carrier expressed concerns of late payments and rejected transfers.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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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