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Suburban Phoenix man formally charged with murder of grandmother

PHOENIX -- A West Valley man charged with the murder of his grandmother has been indicted and will return to court in January for a pre-trial conference.

Howell, 50, was indicted for murder in the first degree in the death of Helen Jean Lee, 78, of Goodyear. She had been reported missing in late October. Her body was found in the desert area near Gila Bend later that week.

The same day Lee was reported missing, Howell was arrested at gunpoint by Chandler police in a carjacking.

Howell was also indicted for attempted first-degree murder, abandoning a dead body and hindering prosecution. He remains jailed.

The pre-trial conference is set for Jan. 7.

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