Man accused in child-sex abuse kills himself

Staff report


A man whose wife caught him sexually assaulting a 3-year-old relative ended his life with a gun.

The standoff began at 9:43 a.m. Saturday.

The wife told authorities that the child had gone upstairs to get some clean clothes at a home on Steubenville Pike Road.

The woman, who was cooking, told the child she would be up soon to help her.

When the woman went upstairs a few minutes later, she told authorities she found her husband assaulting the child.

She told a sheriff’s deputy that she grabbed the child and the suitcase containing the child’s clothes and ran downstairs while telling her husband he was sick.

Her husband, Howard McNeal, 58, said that if she called authorities, he would kill himself.

She contacted a deputy from the Columbiana County sheriff’s office, who asked if her husband had any guns. She said he did.

The woman described what she had seen in detail.

The deputy told her to take the child immediately to a hospital for a rape test.

Another deputy arrived along with a trooper from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

A deputy looked through a window and saw the man talking on the phone with one hand while his other hand was behind his back.

The deputy asked the man to show his hands, and the grandfather produced a handgun and held it to his head.

The report said the man said he did not want to talk to authorities and that he wanted to kill himself.

The county’ Special Response Team was called out while John Gamble, the chief assistant prosecutor, filed a felony charge of gross sexual imposition against McNeal, a process that took several hours.

Law-enforcement officials tried to flush out McNeal with a smoke grenade. When the smoke cleared, law-enforcement officials found McNeal dead on the floor with a self- inflicted gunshot wound.

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