UPDATE: Jeanette Scholten was living at the Chatt Inn on East 23rd Street, when her body was found in March. Since then police have searched for her killer, only to learn he's already behind bars. Police have charged 52-year-old Mark Howard with Scholten’s murder.
Police used text messages and security video to charge Howard. They say he was the last to enter Scholten's room before she was found dead.
“It's a tragedy. My heart goes out to the family of the young lady,” said Trester Payne. Residents and employees at the Chatt Inn are relieved to hear an arrest has been made in 34 year old Jeanette Scholten's murder.
The man police say strangled her to death is no stranger to the property or investigators. “His name was involved in the investigation from very early on,” said Officer Mark Frazer with the Chattanooga Police Department.
Just 24 hours after Scholten's body was discovered, 52 year old Mark Eric Howard was arrested in connection to theft charges. He sat in jail as police worked to confirm his connection to the murder. “We've seen him here a couple times that’s it. The girl lived here, she was quiet and stayed to herself,” said Payne.
Phone records show Howard texted Scholten telling her to open the door. Howard was seen on security video entering the room, and leaving a day later. Two days later her body was found by a family member. “Our top notch homicide investigators were able to put together enough physical and testimonial evidence to take out warrants on the suspect,” said Frazer.
“We're going to feel safer here because it is a hotel and I am glad police are doing their work and we are feeling really good about it,” said resident of the hotel, Ilmira Heashon.
While residents are relieved to hear about the arrest, they can't help but remember their former neighbor. “Young girl with a lot of life left in her. He was a young man with a lot of talent. He got mixed up with the wrong crowd,” said Payne.
Court documents show Mark Howard has been in trouble with police since 1989, with dozens of arrests and charges of burglary, assault, forgery and drugs. He is currently serving a sentence at Silverdale Correctional Facility on a separate case. He is set to appear in court on these new charges on May 19th.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: Chattanooga police have arrested a man accused of strangling a woman to death at a local motel in March.
Police say 52-year-old Mark Eric Howard is charged with First Degree Murder for the death of Jeanette Scholten.
Scholten's body was found in a room at The Chatt Inn on East 23rd Street on March 24.
Records show Howard was arrested for Failure to Appear on March 25.
Police say he's currently serving another sentence at Silverdale Correctional Facility.
Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.
PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga police are searching for a killer after a woman was found strangled at a local motel Thursday.
Police say 34-year-old Jeanette Scholten's body was found at The Chatt Inn on East 23rd Street around noon.
After further investigation, police turned the body over to the Medical Examiner for autopsy to determine an exact cause of death.
Police say the M.E.'s preliminary report shows manual strangulation as the cause of death, ruling it a homicide.
Scholten was a line chef at a downtown restaurant. Her mother told Channel 3 her "beautiful daughter was always smiling" and that their family had "so much goodness taken away."
Her mother last spoke to Scholten Monday evening and after several days of not answering her phone, they went to the motel to check on her. Maintenance workers went to open her door when they found Scholten dead. Detectives say she was likely dead for more than a day.
"We're looking at if the suspect is possibly an acquaintance, a stranger, somebody staying at the hotel, we're looking at every option on this crime," said Lt. Glenn Scruggs with CPD. "We can't find anything just yet that looks like there was anything she could've done that would've brought this upon herself."
Police don't have any suspect information at this time but they're reviewing forensic evidence and surveillance from the motel.
This marks the 7th homicide this year in Chattanooga, with four of those happening in the month of March. There are still no arrests in any of this year's homicides.
If you have any information that can assist investigators, call the Chattanooga Police Department at 423-698-2525.
Wednesday, August 23 2017 11:49 PM EDT2017-08-24 03:49:44 GMT
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