Pell City woman missing since 2009 declared legally dead

Published: Aug. 22, 2014 at 1:44 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2014 at 8:09 PM CDT
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ST. CLAIR COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A Pell City woman missing since 2009 has been declared legally dead.

Kelley Henderson Howard was a dental hygienist at Family Dental Care in Riverside. She was 41 years old when she was last seen leaving the dentist's office where she worked around noon on June 2, 2009.

There have been several searches, but Howard's body has never been found.

Now that Howard has been declared dead, her family can open her estate and her property can be distributed.

Riverside Police Chief Rick Oliver, who is also the lead investigator in Howard's disappearance, said on Thursday that the case is still open. He added that police are following up on several leads.

Oliver also hopes that this will also put attention back on Howard's case.

Jonathan Brogdon represents Howard's husband, Boyd. Brogdon said Boyd Howard contacted him about six months ago asking how to move forward in filing a petition to legally declare his wife dead.

"It had been a long time and it was a very emotional decision to actually take this step. He was fearful that it might close some things investigation wise. Which it has not certainly. Which it won't," Brogdon said.

Brogdon said that in the state of Alabama, if a person is missing for more than five years the family can file paperwork that would legally declare them deceased.

On Wednesday, Boyd Howard, the couple's son, and other family members went before a St. Clair County probate judge to finalize that paperwork.

"Both of them [Howard's husband and son] were extremely emotional. I don't think it can be said all for closure for the family because she hasn't been found. Her remains haven't been found. But it was a legal step for closure," Brogdon said.

Brodgon says Boyd and his son were still too emotional to talk with FOX6 News but Wednesday's decision is a step in the right direction.

Brogdon added that Howard's son is planning a memorial for his mother.

Friends and family have posted about the search for Kelley Howard throughout the years on a Facebook page called Help Find Kelley Henderson Howard - MISSING.

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