Less than 24 hours later, Howie was dead by the side of a road near Munford. Two days later, Surles was arrested in Tennessee.
The body of 19-year-old Anniston resident Howie was discovered Friday morning near Kentuck Mountain Road. Howie apparently had died of multiple gunshot wounds. Surles, 22, of Oxford, who was in custody Monday in Columbia, Tenn., is the main suspect in the shooting, said Oxford police Lt. L.G. Owens.
A man told Oxford police he was robbed by a masked gunman at a BB&T Bank on U.S. 78 around 6 a.m. Thursday after making a transaction with his debit card at the bank, Owens said. The suspect, who police believe is Surles, left the scene on foot.
Owens said he couldn’t reveal what Howie’s connection to the robbery might have been, but to the best of his knowledge, the teenager had never been arrested before.
Surles was another story. Court records show in recent years he had pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and faced charges of robbery and reckless endangerment that were eventually dropped.
Owens said Monday it was unclear if Surles had been arrested in Columbia on a warrant from Oxford or the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office or for another crime in Tennessee. Attempts Monday to reach Columbia’s police department were unsuccessful.
The Talladega County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the homicide. Capt. Bill Kennedy declined to comment on the case Monday, saying it was an open investigation.
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.