Details Emerge About Man Found Dead Behind Church's Chicken

The mysterious death of a man found upside down in a Jeep behind Church’s Chicken on Aug. 1 has been explained as an overdose of multiple hard drugs and alcohol, including both depressants and stimulants.

According to a toxicology report issued by NMS Labs out of Pennsylvania, 30-year-old Tyler Howe had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.125 at the time the exam was conducted, plus high quantities of methamphetamine, amphetamines and other stimulants and depressants, including high-powered pain medication and free morphine, which is commonly found as the result of heroin use. While the autopsy did note abrasions and contusions on his arms and legs, the cause of death has been listed as “acute combined drug and ethanol intoxication,” or drug and alcohol overdose.

Howe was located after 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, when a passerby noticed his feet upright in the driver seat of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude behind the eatery at 3006 Knickerbocker Road. Police were immediately called to the scene, and Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Eddie Howard declared him dead and ordered an autopsy.

Police have not stated whether their investigation has revealed why Howe was upside down at the time of his death, and the investigation is ongoing. The vehicle, however, was a rental car, but it wasn’t Howe’s first incident in a rental vehicle over the past year.

On Dec. 16, 2014, Howe and 19-year-old Megan Jensen were involved in a major rollover crash on Houston Harte that seriously injured the teenage girl and sent Howe and the driver of the other vehicle involved to the hospital for treatment. Howe and Jensen were in his blue Chevrolet Captiva at the time of the wreck, a car rented by Howe following another crash in Houston earlier that month.

According to the crash report from investigating officer Mike Gesch, the Captiva was traveling westbound on Houston Harte at a high rate of speed around 10 p.m. that Tuesday when it crashed into the rear of a silver Hyundai Tucson. Both drivers then lost control and the Tucson slid and crashed into a street sign, then continued sliding before coming to a stop on the right side of the road. The Captiva rolled and Jensen was ejected; it eventually stopped after hitting a concrete wall and cable barrier on the left side of the road.

Jensen sustained incapacitating injuries in the crash and was transported to Shannon. Howe and the driver of the Tucson sustained non-incapacitating injuries and were also taken to Shannon for treatment.

Following an investigation, Jensen was charged with driving while intoxicated and failure to control speed after Howe fingered her as the driver; however, after she got out of the hospital and began recovery from her injuries, Jensen told a different story. She engaged two attorneys—Gerald Ratliff and Mary Golder—to handle batting down the criminal charges and to file suit against her insurance company so they would pay her medical expenses. Her contention: She was not driving on the night of Dec. 16, 2014.

“We think the evidence is absolutely clear that she was not driving,” said attorney Guy Choate, an associate of Golder’s at Webb, Stokes and Sparks. “She’s always denied she was driving the vehicle, and it came about as a result of his claiming she was the driver, which was completely inconsistent with a very, very clear seatbelt mark across her chest and up around her neck, which made it abundantly clear that she was a passenger.”

Choate said Jensen was not in a state where she could relay her side of the story after the crash that night, so investigators were left to issue citations and write their reports based on the evidence at hand, and on Howe’s insistence that he had been a passenger. The two had come from Grinner’s Daiquiri Bar that night, where some allege Howe furnished the 19-year-old copious amounts of alcohol before the two left in his rental car. A TABC investigation was launched three days later.

“There are witnesses who saw them leave, and he was driving,” Choate said. “Her testimony has been that she was not driving, and of course, he, tragically, won’t be able to say one way or another at this point.”

[[{"fid":"16210","view_mode":"preview","type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"An Instagram collage Megan Jensen posted after her stay in the hospital earlier this year. The top left photo shows her seatbelt wounds, supporting her story that she was not the driver in a Dec. 2014 crash that injured here. (Facebook)","title":"An Instagram collage Megan Jensen posted after her stay in the hospital earlier this year. The top left photo shows her seatbelt wounds, supporting her story that she was not the driver in a Dec. 2014 crash that injured here. (Facebook)","height":"1200","width":"1200","class":"media-element file-preview imgbody"}}]]
Above: An Instagram collage Megan Jensen posted after her stay in the hospital earlier this year. The left photo shows her seatbelt wounds, supporting her story that she was not the driver in a December 2014 crash that injured her. (Facebook)

Jensen hired Golder approximately two months ago to begin the process of filing a claim against her insurance provider to assist in paying off her medical bills. At the time of the crash, Jensen carried underinsured motorists coverage, and the driver of the Tucson was not adequately insured. But since she had been named as the driver in a criminal transaction, Jensen’s insurance company was not liable for any of the medical expenses incurred in the crash. In order to get them to step up and assist, Jensen would have to prove that she was not the driver of the vehicle, which is still in progress via Golder at Webb, Stokes and Sparks.

“We’re very early in the process,” Choate said. “This is obviously a tragedy, and Megan feels terribly that this has happened to Mr. Howe, but she wasn’t driving when they had the earlier wreck. She’s going to have lifetime injuries to deal with, and hopefully, she can get some of her medical bills paid.”

Update Nov. 6, 11:18 p.m.

Jensen's attorney, Gerald Ratliff, has confirmed that both the driving while intoxicated and failure to control speed charges have been dropped by County Attorney Chris Taylor as a result of evidence presented that proves she was not the driver. 


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