TRAVERSE CITY — A woman suspected in a fatal shooting in Long Lake Township told authorities last year she received a beating from unknown assailants after she tried to set up a fake $30,000 drug deal, according to a newly released police report.
Nicole Rachell Mitchell, 27, drew a handgun that subsequently discharged and killed Roger Rex Howard, 29, of Traverse City on March 21 in her rented condominium. She told authorities she pulled the gun in self-defense and it discharged as Howard reached for the weapon.
Grand Traverse County sheriff’s Capt. Randy Fewless said investigators continue to try to ascertain Mitchell’s credibility because she’s the lone eyewitness to the fatal shooting. He said detectives are working to piece together Mitchell’s and Howard’s backgrounds, both of which are littered with run-ins with the law.
“We’re just completing interviews and waiting for a crime scene investigation to come back,” Fewless said. “At that point in time is where we’ll try to establish additional credibility.”
The Record-Eagle filed a Freedom of Information Act after Howard’s death for any Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department and Traverse City Police Department reports that mentioned Mitchell.
A November police report detailed Mitchell’s claim that two men tied her up, beat her and cut “snitch” in her forearm after she made a bogus offer of $30,000 to purchase heroin.
She told a Traverse City police officer she had friends detoxing off heroin and she wanted to set up and “burn” a dealer so he would not sell drugs to them.
But her planned meeting with the drug dealer late one November night near Hoosier Valley Road didn’t materialize. Instead, she said two unknown men showed up and demanded her money. Mitchell told them about her set-up plot and the men hit her over the head and knocked her unconscious, the police report states.