Identifying Youngstown murder victim found in SUV proving difficult

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It has been two days since firefighters and police recovered a body from the burned-out remains of an SUV on the east side.

Youngstown. Investigators know the vehicle is registered to Zachary Howell, but they still haven’t positively identified the murder victim found inside the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe.

Youngstown Police Detective Doug Bobovnyik said that Howell has a residence on the East Side. He also confirmed that Howell has been missing since Sunday.

Zachary Howell, owner of the car found burning in Youngstown with a body inside.
Zachary Howell was identified as the registered owner of the vehicle, but police haven’t determined whether the body in the car was Howell’s.

“At this point, it is all speculation pending identification from the coroner’s office, Bobovnyik said.

The Mahoning County Coroner said the victim found in the SUV had been shot twice in the head and died before the fire was set. The body was so badly charred that investigators are forced to rely on dental records, but that is proving very difficult because up until now they haven’t found any.

Zachary Howell is known to police and had recently been taking to social media talking about plans to run for mayor of Youngstown.

“He had an arrest record between 1999 and 2012 for various charges,” Bobovnyik said.

Besides a number of convictions on drug and firearms charges, Howell was the owner of the old Jitso’s Lounge on McGuffey Road, which the city took over as a nuisance in 2012. The building was demolished.

“Jitso’s was notorious for a lot of criminal activity, and there has been a lot of homicides in the past associated with it,” Bobovnyik.

Investigators are asking anyone with access to Howell’s dental records to contact the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office.