Dibon Toone, a North Carolina man accused of killing a woman and three children after their bodies were found Tuesday night, has been arrested, CBS News is reporting. Garlette Howard, 32 and three kids aged 6, 7, and 11 were found dead at their Greenville residence. Dibon Toone was the father to the two youngest children. He had battered them to death with a claw hammer.
The bodies of the victims were discovered 8 p.m. Tuesday after Howard’s co-workers requested a welfare check because Garlette had not shown up at work for two days. Toone’s relatives had also called police to tell them that the 39-year-old suspected killer had made unsettling comments about his family.
Police had visited the house Monday afternoon, but had no reason to force their way in because they needed a warrant. Apparently, Garlette Howard and the three children had already been killed by that time. Toone was arrested around midnight Tuesday, after police were alerted that the North Carolina man was driving the vehicle of his deceased girlfriend in Richmond, Virginia.
Law enforcement officers were able to stop the engine of the SUV using OnStar technology and coordinated radio traffic. Toone had been told to get down on the ground, but he refused, and so police had to send in a K-9 unit to take him down. An employee at the store that Dibon was arrested was shocked that he was talking to quadruple murder suspect before police moved in to arrest him.
The 39-year-old had tried to kill himself just weeks before and was unwillingly committed by police officers to a psychiatric assessment at a local hospital. Greenville Police Chief, Mark Holtzman also revealed neighbors had witnessed an altercation days ago between the couple, but police were not called in about it. Holtzman believes the deaths were a tragic case of domestic violence.
“As little girls, you should be able to trust your father – to look to him for advice, and know he will always be there to protect you. Dibon Toone betrayed that trust, and as a result, these little girls and their mother paid the ultimate price.”
In a press conference Wednesday, Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas pleaded with citizens to contact law enforcement if they suspected anyone was involved in domestic violence.
“If you could have gone back three days ago and you could have saved three young children’s lives, would you have done it? That’s a question you have to ask yourselves as a member of this community…that’s the message we need to take from this today.”
Holtzman reinforced the mayor’s message.
“This type of event can really shake a community. But it can also bring us together around a common cause-care-for one another to do our part.”
Holtzman said that even though there was no documented history of violence between Howard and Toone, there would have been signs.
“I don’t think people suffer through domestic violence by themselves. If you share that information with your friends and family, I think it’s our job to recognize the danger for them.”
The police chief said that a program called the Lethality Assessment Program (L.A.P.) in his area of jurisdiction allowed a police officer to enter a home where domestic violence was a possibility even if the victim did not ask for help. He said it was crucial to always address the cycle of abuse before it was too late.
In 2009, Toone was arrested on larceny charges and the unauthorized use of vehicles. Detectives are confident that the 39-year-old man was responsible for the murders and acted alone. Dibon Toone will be extradited back to North Carolina and arraigned before a court, Thursday.
[Photo by Richmond Police Department Public Affairs/AP Images]