Fayette County

Lexington man pleads not guilty to killing mother, hiding her in Herbie

On Wednesday, investigators loaded the Herbie in which the badly decomposed body of Sharon Cave-Howard was found near Fortune Drive. Cave-Howard had not been seen by relatives since June and was reported missing in December.
On Wednesday, investigators loaded the Herbie in which the badly decomposed body of Sharon Cave-Howard was found near Fortune Drive. Cave-Howard had not been seen by relatives since June and was reported missing in December. Herald-Leader

The man accused of killing his mother and concealing her body in a Herbie container has a history of anger problems and run-ins with police, according to court files.

Two petitions for domestic violence orders filed by Krystal Landers, a former girlfriend, described Mark Adam Cave as having a bad temper and a tendency to get violent.

Those documents provide more details about Cave, and police reports filed early Friday provide more details about his most recent run-in with police.

Cave, 27, was charged Thursday with killing the woman later identified as his mother, Sharon Cave-Howard. Cave-Howard had been reported missing in December. Police said he admitted to killing his mother.

Cave-Howard's mummified corpse was found Wednesday in a trash bin. She died from blunt-force trauma to the head, according a news release from the coroner's office.

The coroner's office listed the location, time and date of Cave-Howard's death as unknown.

Police have said Cave-Howard's body could have been in the trash bin for about seven months. Her family apparently had not seen her since June. Relatives took the case to police on Dec. 28, police have said.

"This all started back late December as a missing-persons case investigation," Sgt. Ann Gutierrez said Thursday at a news conference.

Police have said leads and witness statements obtained during the missing-persons investigation led them to the intersection of Fortune Drive and Trade Center Drive Wednesday.

There, at the end of a short, dead-end street, police found the trash bin concealed in some brush.

The court documents, filed about 1:30 a.m. Friday, provided more details about the case. The documents also cleared up unanswered questions about who the woman was and her relationship to Cave.

Police said Cave was being held at the Fayette County Detention Center on unrelated charges when he admitted to police that he killed her.

"(Cave) advised that he had intentionally caused the death of the victim, who is a family member," the document said. "The subject then concealed and altered physical evidence of the crime with intent to impair the availability of evidence."

In a portion of the document that identifies the victim's relationship to the suspect, a police officer wrote "mother."

On Friday, Cave pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and tampering with evidence at an arraignment in Fayette District Court. His attorney, public defender Brad Clark, said he couldn't say much about the case.

"Obviously there's a lot going on. It's still really preliminary," he said. "What I can say is, ... when the facts and circumstances surrounding this case are unveiled to everyone, we are all going to be amazed by this story."

A relative of Cave-Howard said the family was in mourning and did not wish to speak with reporters.

Fayette County jail spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Taylor said Cave declined all media requests for interviews.

Cave and his mother both have lengthy criminal histories in Lexington, dating to 2006.

A narrative written by Landers says Cave elbowed her and put a pillow over her face one morning when she woke him up. He allegedly choked, punched and bit her because he was "angry because of an upcoming court date."

Cave's mother stepped between him and Landers during a dispute in 2010 when Cave tried to hit Landers with an iron, the document said.

"Then he began to verbally abuse his mother," the document said.

Cave-Howard was most recently in jail in November 2010, on fugitive charges out of Indiana, Taylor said.

Other charges, dating to 2006, include criminal trespass, loitering for prostitution purposes, driving under the influence, public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cave was being held on charges of theft and theft of identity for an alleged shoplifting case on Jan. 2 at the Wal-Mart store on Richmond Road. When police stopped him and asked him his name, Cave apparently gave them the name of his brother, Harold, according to court documents.

A felony charge of receiving stolen property was added the next day, when police discovered that the Mitsubishi Mirage that Cave was driving had been reported stolen, according to court documents.

Cave was indicted on those charges Thursday, and on a charge of flagrant non-support that was filed in November.

Most of the court documents list a general-delivery address for Cave, but the document charging him with flagrant non-support lists "New Circle Trailer Park" as his address. There is a trailer park on New Circle Road, called the Eastland Mobile Home Park, next to Trade Center Drive, less than half a mile from where Cave-Howard's body was found.

Cave was charged in April 2010 for violating an emergency protective order taken out against him by Landers. Cave repeatedly tried to contact Landers from jail despite a no-contact order by a judge, according to court documents.

Landers wrote in her 2010 domestic violence protection petition that Cave had called her from jail several times "and told me when he gets bonded out that he is coming to get me before he steals his mom's car and runs to Florida."

In 2008, Landers filed another domestic violence petition against Cave after he allegedly trashed their apartment and threatened her boss because he was angry "over a job interview."

"I was afraid because of his anger," she wrote. "He has had anger problems before."

A judge granted both of the emergency protective orders that Landers sought.

Cave appeared via video from the Fayette County Detention Center during his arraignment Friday on the murder charge. He said nothing, but he appeared to wipe tears from his eyes. His attorney, Clark, entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

Judge Joseph T. Bouvier set a preliminary hearing for Feb. 9.

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