GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The suspect of the quadruple murder from 2016 pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder Friday morning.
Dibon Toone, 43, pleaded guilty to the brutal killing of Garlette Howard, 32; Bryana Carr, 11; Ayona Toone,7; and Mayona Toone, 5, who were found August 16, 2016.
Toone was the father of the youngest two. The children and Howard were found dead in their unit at West Pointe Townhomes.
The Medical Examiner’s Office determined all four victims died from “traumatic head injury by assault.”
The report indicates that the weapon believed to have been used in the assaults was a hammer.
Howard was a decorated Army veteran and worked for LabCorp at the time of her death.
This proceeding was before the Honorable Resident Superior Court Judge Marvin K. Blount III.
Toone was represented by Assistant Public Defender Ann Kirby and Attorney Richard T. McNeill.
The State of North Carolina was represented by Assistant District Attorneys Valerie Pearce and Jamie Askins.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Accused quadruple murderer 39-year-old Dibon Toone appeared in court Thursday morning.
He now faces a total of four murder charges.
Last week, three girls, ages 6, 7 and 11, were found with their mother, 32-year-old Garlette Howard, beaten to death inside their Greenville townhome. Toone is the father of the youngest two. He was officially charged with the murder of the three girls on Wednesday.
His next court date is September 7.
Toone made his first appearance in a Pitt County court on Monday on the charge of murdering Howard. In that appearance, he received a court-appointed attorney and was issued no bond.
Officers picked Toone up from Virginia Friday afternoon and booked him into the Pitt County Detention Center.
“You are waiving extradition,” a judge presiding over an extradition hearing explained to Toone on Thursday. “The right to extradition, to go back to North Carolina to answer to your charges.” Toone appeared in the Richmond Manchester General District Courtroom that morning and waived extradition back to the state.
Late Thursday evening, police in Greenville confirmed reports about the cause of death for Howard and her three daughters.
The Greenville Police Department issued the following statement, “Unfortunately, information regarding the deaths of Ms. Garlette Howard and her three children was circulated in the Richmond area prior to the completion of their autopsies. The Greenville Police Department has waited to release any details about the manner of death up until this point out of respect for the family. It’s important to us that they be properly notified by our detectives before having to find out through the news. As of late this evening, the autopsies have been completed and our detectives have been able to make contact with next of kin to appropriately inform them of these details. For this reason, we can now confirm that the Medical Examiner’s Office has determined all four victims died from “traumatic head injury by assault.” The report will indicate that the weapon believed to have been used in the assaults was a hammer.”
Howard and her three young daughters, ages 6, 7, and 11, were found dead inside a home in the West Pointe Townhomes community Tuesday evening.
Toone is accused of killing Howard, and her three young daughters, Bryana, Myona, and Ayona. He was taken into custody late Tuesday night at the intersection of Lost Avenue and Hopkins Road in Richmond, Virginia by authorities, including members of the U.S. Marshals Service Task Force and Richmond Police. Toone was driving a silver Chevy Equinox with the license plate EVH7587 with “LabCorp” on both doors.
Investigators said the car was Howard’s work-issued vehicle and when they found Toone, he was working on the car. Police said Toone refused to get on the ground so they had a K9 officer take him down.
Police used On-Star technology to track down the suspect.
“Luckily that night, we had numerous patrol officers that stepped in to assist, and the K9 officer,” explained Det. Sandy Ledbetter, Richmond Police Dept. “Everyone did not hesitate, came together as a team and took him down safely and no one got hurt. It’s always adrenaline when you call, reference a murder suspect or a rape suspect or a robbery suspect. I think that adrenaline is what keeps us safe.”
In a news conference Wednesday morning, Chief Mark Holtzman opened with a statement on domestic violence, “It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the deaths of 32-year-old Garlette Howard and her three young children. These four innocent victims were senselessly murdered at the hands of someone they loved. 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.
Domestic Violence has no boundaries. It affects people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Domestic Violence is known to occur as a cycle of violence that continues to escalate if not reported. In this case, it ended in tragedy. As we review the facts of this case, we should be reminded of the important role that we all play to report incidents of domestic violence within our community. One phone call may be all it takes to break the cycle.”
Holtzman then offered background on the unfolding events which led to Tuesday night’s discovery of Howard and her children and the subsequent arrest of Toone.
It all started Tuesday after Greenville Police received multiple calls from Toone’s out-of-state family members. They communicated to police that Toone had made concerning comments about the welfare of his children and Howard; he’s the father of Howard’s two youngest, Myona and Ayona. Officers were dispatched to the scene at 1101 Grovemont Drive, Unit A2 for a welfare check between 7 – 7:30 p.m.
By 8 p.m. Tuesday, after multiple attempts to make contact with the residents in the home, officers entered and found Howard and her three female children deceased. Detectives are looking into the possibility that the victims may have been killed several days prior to when police found their bodies.
“It could have happened up to a day or more ago, all of those facts are really volatile,” Holtzman said on Tuesday night as police were just beginning to gather information. “Pinpointing a time of death is very difficult in a homicide investigation, especially one that didn’t occur as we were arriving.”
Police said after Howard’s coworkers contacted the department on Monday about her not showing up to work at LabCorp, officers attempted to check on her welfare then, but weren’t able to make contact. As her work-issued car wasn’t at the residence at the time, there was no indication, at that point, that Howard was in danger.
LabCorp issued the following statement Wednesday about their employee’s death, “We have learned that one of our valued Greenville employees, Garlette R. Howard, and her three children were killed. Police are conducting a homicide investigation, and we will provide authorities whatever assistance they need. This is a very sad day for LabCorp, and we are providing grief support for our employees. Our hearts go out to Garlette’s family.”
Around 11 p.m. Tuesday, Greenville Police, with the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Marshal’s Service, obtained information that Toone was in the Richmond, Virginia area. That’s when the Greenville Police Department alerted local authorities in Richmond. Toone was taken into custody about an hour later.
Overnight, into the early morning hours Wednesday, the Greenville Police Department’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit processed the scene into the early morning hours Wednesday morning.
Tuesday night, at the scene of the crime, Holtzman made the following comment about the incident, “We’ve had a very tragic homicide take place in our community. I know the community is going to have a lot of questions. How did this take place? What was the method? All of those details will eventually be released, but, at this point, they are all part of the homicide investigation that we’re conducting.”
Police said at the time the murders weren’t random and investigators were working to find out more about a potential motive. That’s still unknown. Police, however, did confirm the crime was domestic in nature.
“The relationship has not yet been established but I can tell you that our suspect did stay at this location and may have been involved in a relationship with the adult female,” Holtzman said Tuesday night. By the time he addressed the media Wednesday, Holtzman confirmed that Toone was involved in a romantic relationship with Howard and is the father of the two youngest victims.
People who live in the neighborhood were stunned by the discovery.
“We, all the neighbors, are in shock because stuff like this never happens, so when we find out about news like this, it’s just very disturbing to all of us,” one man who lives in the West Pointe Townhomes development said Tuesday night.
In the wake of the murders, Greenville mayor Allen Thomas made a plea to the community to get to know the people in your neighborhood and not to be afraid to speak up if you see something that doesn’t look right.
“The real key in this as neighbors,” Thomas said during Wednesday’s news conference. “As a community, when we see something, we have to start a process, let people know. Sometimes, it may seem like a big indication, but that allows us, puts us in a position to respond.”
Toone is being held on one count of murder for Howard’s death. Detectives will be obtaining additional murder charges for the three children with the assistance of the District Attorney’s office.
It’s not the first time, police in Greenville have encountered Toone. His criminal history consists of unauthorized use of vehicles and larceny charges. Greenville Police also cited other incidents in a prepared release Wednesday afternoon:
- July 22, 2016: Officers were called to 1101 Grovemont Drive, Unit A2, after Toone attempted to commit suicide. Officers sought and obtained involuntary commitment papers and Toone was transported to Vidant Medical Center where he was admitted for a psychiatric evaluation. There was no indication during the July 22 incident that he intended to harm anyone but himself.
- May of 2009: Howard reported Toone to the Greenville Police Department after he used her vehicle without her permission. He was charged accordingly.
- Despite information neighbors provided to the media regarding a physical altercation outside the house between Howard and Toone in the days prior to the murders, The Greenville Police Department received no calls for service regarding any type of disturbance and has no documented domestic violence history or other calls for service involving Toone and Howard.
The Greenville Police Department issued the following statement about the events, “This was undoubtedly an extremely tragic night for the family of these victims, for the Greenville community, and all first responders. We appreciate the assistance and coordination from all the agencies involved and the patience from the media and community as the situation was unfolding last night. This type of an event can shake a community, but it can also bring us together around a common cause to end domestic violence and to look out for one another. If you or someone you love has been the victim of domestic violence, you are encouraged to call the Greenville Police Department (252) 329-4315.”
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