Contractor was early suspect in woman's killing

Contractor was early suspect in woman's killing

Court documents reveal new details in the killing of a Fairhaven woman Oct. 14.

Joshua Silva of New Bedford was in court Wednesday, charged with murder and armed robbery, more than two weeks after prosecutors say he killed 69-year-old Joyce Howland in her home.

The police report obtained by NBC 10 shows investigators were on to him almost from the start. They say Silva was in Howland's home a three days before the killing, as a contractor with Fairhaven Lumber to insulate her attic.

Investigators said Silva went back to the home to steal Howland's jewelry and cut her throat to the point where she was nearly decapitated.

According to the court documents, the co-worker who was with Silva at the job at Howland's house told investigators that Silva was a heroin junkie, often looking for money and would always scope out items of value at people's houses where they were working.

The co-worker told police he got the impression that Silva did steal from people. He said Silva took notice of some nice jewelry in Howland's bedroom.

The co-worker told police that Silva said to him, "I should go back there and take that stuff. The only way to do it is to beat that lady upside the head and steal her (expletive)."

The co-worker said Silva showed up to work the next day without his knife and appeared to be high.

According to the police report, Silva told investigators he went back to Howland's home the day of the murder to get his tape measure. He denied attacking or robbing her.

But police said Silva gave the stolen jewelry to others to pawn. They also claim a blood spot on his pants matched Howland's DNA.

Police said Silva has a previous burglary conviction in Florida.

The owner of Fairhaven Lumber, James Kalife, told NBC 10 that Silva was a temporary hire and had only been working for them for about a week. He said they did not do a background check.

"I'm at a loss right now. It's certainly a heartbreak. It touches all of us. My prayers are with her and her family," Kalife said.

The Rev. Bette McClure of First Congregational Church was Howland's neighbor and pastor.

"A lot of anger that somebody who didn't do anything wrong would end up killed in such a horrible way. And just deep sadness," McClure said.

McClure said with such horrible circumstances, it's important to remember the victim.

"Joyce was a very vibrant person, very lively, full of life. She enjoyed life. She enjoyed having fun," McClure said. "Just an all-around good person."

Silva is being held without bail.