Killer's brother may receive $5,000 reward in Barbara Howe death

Posted at 12:19 PM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 12:53:03-04

MONROE, Ohio -- The brother of a Daniel French, convicted killer of an elderly Monroe woman, may receive a $5,000 reward after providing critical information about the investigation that led to a conviction last year, according to the Journal-News.

Hamilton philanthropist Harry Wilks, a former classmate of Barbara Howe, contacted Monroe Police shortly after Howe’s murder at her Mount Pleasant Retirement Community home in October 2012, offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the 87-year-old’s death.

Wilks died in March 2014 and his daughters wanted to honor their father’s wishes and estate by issuing the reward to the city, with the intent that the funds be distributed to Kenneth French, Daniel’s brother, according to the agenda from Monroe City Council agenda.

BACKGROUND: Documents say Howe was stunned, choked

READ MORE: Detectives say Barbara Howe's death was an inside job

Monroe City Council had a first reading Tuesday night of a resolution “accepting a donation for a reward that lead to the arrest and conviction in the case of Barbara Howe."

Angela Wasson, clerk of council, said there was no discussion on the resolution. Council is scheduled to have a second reading and consider approval Aug. 26.

In December 2014, Daniel French, a former maintenance worker at the retirement community, was arrested in Berea, Ky., and charged with aggravated murder for Howe’s slaying.

In November of last year, Daniel French was convicted and is serving a life prison sentence.

MORE: “I seen Mrs. Howe’s ghost and I apologized to her,” killer says

A key witness at the two-week trial was Kenneth French, who took the stand for the prosecution and was also called by the defense in mitigation. In that testimony it was learned that Kenneth French contacted Monroe detectives after seeing his bother on Nov. 1, 2012 wearing a Mount Pleasant work shirt.

Kenneth French said during the trial that he wrestled with himself for weeks before calling detectives to tell them that his brother “Danny” might be involved in the death Howe.

“I struggled with it,” Kenneth French testified. “He’s my brother. I thought, what if he didn’t have anything to do with it?”

Kenneth French said he had a bad feeling when he met his brother, who he referred to as “Danny,” in the parking lot of a Kroger in Walton, Ky. on Nov. 1, 2012.

“When I get out of the truck, he gives me a big hug and tells me he loves me,” Kenneth French told prosecutors and the jury. He said that was odd behavior for his brother, who had called him the day before to ask if they could meet on his way from Monroe back to their sister’s house in Berea.

“I felt like he was telling me goodbye for the last time,” Kenneth French said, sobbing at times during his testimony.

He testified that “Danny” was dressed in a ball cap and a Mount Pleasant Retirement Community sweatshirt and asked if he could borrow some money. Kenneth French said he gave him $20 for gas, and they parted ways.

Kenneth French said his bad feeling turned into a “sick feeling” when he began reading news reports about Howe’s homicide and then his brother went missing for weeks.

“I saw the time line … I know the shirt he had on, I just knew in my gut,” Kenneth French said, adding he “struggled” with what to do for about three weeks before calling Monroe police with the tip.

The information targeted Daniel French as a suspect and after several sessions of questioning by police, eventually confessed to Howe’s murder.

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