Here's What 'Innocent Man' Subject Jim Bob Howard Is Doing Now

by Jordan Lauf

Spoilers ahead for The Innocent Man Season 1. Over 30 years ago, Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot were convicted for the 1984 murder of Denice Haraway, and they have remained in prison ever since. Their convictions rest in part on the confessions they gave to police — confessions which they've since claimed were coerced. (Bustle reached out to the Ada Police Department for comment on these allegations, but did not receive a response by the time of publication). Netflix's The Innocent Man re-examines their case, featuring multiple subjects determined to help exonerate them. That includes putting forth other people some allege could be connected to the case, such as Jim Bob Howard, who based on the series still seems to live in Ada. (Howard could not be reached for comment, but he was never charged in the case and maintains in The Innocent Man that he had nothing to do with Haraway's murder.)

Howard is first mentioned in the fifth episode of The Innocent Man, when AC Shilton, a journalist investigating the Haraway case, and Mark Barrett, Ward's appeals attorney, begin theorizing about who else could have been involved in Haraway's murder. According to them, Ada, Oklahoma residents reportedly believed Howard resembled one of the men in a composite sketch, which was drawn after witnesses reported seeing Haraway being hustled into a gray pickup truck by two men from the convenience store where she worked.


In the episode, Shilton claims there's evidence that Howard once told someone he couldn't return to Ada to see his sick mother because he had allegedly killed a store clerk in a robbery gone wrong. Shilton says she believes that this alleged confession is referring to the murder of Haraway.

Shilton and Barrett also allege that Howard acted with a known friend of his named Billy Charley. (Charley could not be reached for comment, but he was never charged in the case and maintains in The Innocent Man that he had nothing to do with Haraway's murder). They believe that Charley resembles the second man in the composite photo, and allege he has a history of violent behavior. What's more, Charley confirms during a phone call featured in The Innocent Man that he owned a gray pickup truck at the time of Haroway's murder.


Wanting to speak with Howard herself, Shilton meets with Johnny Daniels, an old friend of Ward's and a longtime Ada resident who knows both Howard and Charley. Though Daniels says he hasn't seen Howard in years, he claims he's heard what his old acquaintance has been up to. "He's still just bummin' around doing nothing," he tells the cameras. "And when you're doing nothing, you're gonna get in trouble."

Shilton and Daniels manage to find Howard at the trailer where he's living, but when Daniels asks whether he'd like to speak about the Haraway case, Howard flatly refuses. "I don't know nothin' about it," he says. The pair don't have much more luck with Charley, who states over the phone that while yes, he did have a gray pickup truck at the time of the murder, he had nothing to do with Haraway's death.

Outside of The Innocent Man, there's very little public information available about Howard and what he might be up to these days. Instead, all viewers have is Shilton and Barrett's theory, which, as Shilton herself admits, is just that — a theory with no physical evidence to back it up.