Although Chad Entzel had sadly lost his life in the early hours of December 31, 2019, it wasn’t until the evening of January 2, 2020, that his body was found in his flaming North Dakota home. After all, as profiled in ABC’s ’20/20: The Last Strike,’ his wife Nikki Sue Entzel and her new boyfriend Earl Roy Howard had killed him to start afresh together before returning to burn the evidence. Yet for now, if you simply wish to learn more about the latter — his background, his affair with the missus, as well as his hand in this complex matter — we’ve got every necessary detail for you.
Who is Earl Howard?
It was reportedly around November 2019 when Ontario, Canada native Earl first came across North Dakota resident Nikki by pure chance, just for them to quickly fall into a whirlwind romance. They were actually so invested they’d already planned to move to Texas together by the time late December rolled around, which is when they decided to get rid of her husband Chad for good. The truth is this illicit couple had entered the Bismarck home the latter shared with his wife on December 30, only to end up shooting him twice prior to staging the scene to look like a suicide.
Earl and Nikki had then also attempted to start a fire using the torch kit the former had locally purchased the same day, just for it to fail and nudge them to return three days later to finish the job. They did so, but once evidence of foul play was placed right in front of the widow a few days later, she told detectives the dual US-Canadian citizen was the one directly involved in it all. She essentially claimed that even though she was relieved Chad was gone owing to his alleged alcohol-driven abuse, her boyfriend had put forth the idea of sparking the blaze upon pulling the trigger.
However, there was even a financial angle, most of which obviously directly benefited Nikki alone since she was the only one with legit relations to Chad and hence his trusted beneficiary. In fact, apart from cashing in on his life insurance policy worth over $60,000, she fully planned on obtaining her recently applied renter’s insurance payout valued at up to $31,000 as well. The latter actually went into effect on December 27, 2019, a day before which the girlfriend had gone as far as to contact the claim company to verify the required details and documents.
Where is Earl Howard Now?
Earl was seemingly rushing back to his homeland following Chad’s killing when federal US officials arrested him on the Blue Water Bridge connecting Michigan to Ontario on January 10, 2020. He was then charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to tamper with evidence, with intentional homicide being added on January 13. Yet the DA’s office formally dismissed the latter count for good in May 2021 because it could not be positively determined whether he really pulled the trigger on his then-girlfriend’s spouse or not.
Therefore, on October 22, 2021, Earl pleaded guilty to all the remaining indictments against him in exchange for his testimony and 50 years behind bars, out of which 25 are suspended. He was thus the prosecutors’ primary witness during Nikki’s fall 2022 jury trial, through which he practically painted her as the murder’s orchestrator and ensured her life sentence. So today, at the age of 44, the first-time convicted felon is incarcerated at the medium-security James River Correctional Center in Jamestown, where he’s expected to remain until his estimated release date of November 30, 2040.