Son charged with strangling and killing mother in Troy, IL

Norma Caraker, 60, was found dead in her Troy home early Wednesday under suspicious circumstances. She’s survived by two children and three stepchildren, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The son of a Troy woman who was found dead in her home early Wednesday under suspicious circumstances has been charged with her killing.

The office of State’s Attorney Tom Haine charged Neil A. Howard, 44, of Maryville, with two counts of first-degree murder late Thursday afternoon, according to Madison County Circuit Court records.

The victim, Norma Caraker, had been married to former Troy Mayor Charles “Tom” Caraker before his death in 2018.

“Defendant (Neil Howard), without lawful justification, and with the intent to kill Norma Caraker, strangled Norma Caraker, thereby causing the death of Norma Caraker,” the complaint states.

Howard’s bail was set at $3 million.

No further details were available. Troy Police Department hadn’t announced the charges on its Facebook page, where it has been posting updates on the case, as of early Thursday evening.

Norma Caraker, 60, was found dead about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday inside her home at 600 Lower Marine Road after police received a call for a welfare check, according to a news release from Troy police.

“We’re releasing her identity for now, and we should have some follow-up information, hopefully by this afternoon,” Troy Police Chief Chris Wasser told the BND Thursday morning.

Police had announced the death on Wednesday but didn’t name the victim. A news release stated that a female had been found unresponsive and not breathing with “obvious injuries not consistent with a natural death.” An autopsy was being conducted by the Madison County coroner’s office.

A search of property records showed the white frame house at 600 Lower Marine Road, just inside city limits, is owned by Charles T. Caraker Trust. Tom Caraker served as mayor from 1997 until 2013.

“As soon as we have additional information, we’re going to put it out,” Chief Wasser said Thursday morning of Norma Caraker’s death. “I want to be as transparent as I can without compromising the investigation.”

Tom Caraker served the city in various capacities for more than 30 years, beginning as a planning commission member in 1979 and later as an alderman. He also owned Flo-Systems, a water and wastewater treatment equipment design and sales service firm based in Troy.

Norma and Tom Caraker had a blended family with five children, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to an obituary and a BND story at the time of Tom Caraker’s death at 73.

Howard is one of Norma Caraker’s three children from a previous marriage, according to family members.

This story was originally published September 14, 2023, 7:35 PM.

Teri Maddox has been a reporter for 37 years, joining the Belleville News-Democrat in 1990. She also teaches journalism at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. She holds degrees from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Son charged with strangling and killing mother in Troy, IL

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