By Natalie T. Hull

Killeen Daily Herald

Authorities on Tuesday identified a woman's body found almost six weeks ago in a remote area on Fort Hood.

The severely decomposed body of Barbara Suzann Howell, 43, of Killeen, was found on Sept. 5. On Tuesday, authorities asked the public for information to assist with the ongoing investigation.

"We are pursuing some leads, but would like the public's help in any information (particularly about) Ms. Howell's whereabouts or companions prior to her death," said Erik Vasys, FBI spokesman in San Antonio.

Bell County Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke pronounced Howell, then unidentified, dead at 12:05 p.m. Sept. 5 and ordered an autopsy at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas. Preliminary results indicated her death was the result of a homicide.

Vasys said the initial investigation revealed the death occurred in mid-August.

"The body had been out there at least three weeks," Vasys said.

Cooke said the body was found near Radar Hill Road, in a remote part of West Fort Hood. The body was discovered at 11:45 a.m. in a "lightly wooded area," according to a news release issued Sept. 5 by Fort Hood public affairs director Col. Diane Battaglia.

"I describe it as 'off the beaten path,' because you'd have to make a conscious choice to travel along this route where the body was found," Vasys said.

The Department of Public Safety assisted the FBI in identifying Howell by using her fingerprints, Vasys said.

Carroll Smith, Killeen Police Department spokeswoman, said Howell's family members reported her missing on Sept. 28, more than three weeks after her body had been discovered.

Smith said it is not uncommon for someone Howell's age to be reported missing after so long because "at that age you don't normally live around family."

The FBI, KPD, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and Texas Rangers have been working on the investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Waco FBI office at (254) 772-1627 or KPD at (254) 501-8830.

Contact Natalie T. Hull at or (254) 501-7442.

Staff writers Amanda Kim Stairrett and Mason W. Canales contributed to this report.

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