Local News

Man charged in Goldsboro motel workers' deaths

Posted March 16, 2010 8:35 a.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2010 2:26 p.m. EDT

— Police on Tuesday charged a Goldsboro man in the December shooting deaths of a couple who worked at a Goldsboro motel.

James Carnell Howard, 28, was charged with two counts each of murder and possession of a firearm by felon and one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon in the Dec. 14 slayings of Suryakant Patel, 65, and his wife, Bhavanaben Patel, 61.

The Patels' bodies were found in a room of America's Best Value Inn, 701 U.S. Highway 70 Bypass. They worked at the motel as housekeepers and lived in the room where they were found slain, police said.

Autopsies determined that Bhavanaben Patel was shot once in the forehead and that her husband was shot several times.

A motel employee said Howard also lived at the motel for about two months and moved out after the Patels were killed.

Police declined to say what evidence linked Howard to the crime, but they said they believe robbery was the motive.

Goldsboro police arrested Howard on Jan. 15 at the Irish Inn Motel in Goldsboro for outstanding warrants on an unrelated robbery. He has remained in custody since, police said, moving from the county jail to the nearby state prison, Neuse Correctional Institution, at the end of February after pleading guilty to driving while impaired.

Howard was being held without bond Tuesday in the Wayne County Jail while awaiting his first court appearance on the murder charges.