Man files insanity plea in bizarre Troy roommate killing

Sean Higgins

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Sean Higgins

Police say Higgins was calculating, destroyed evidence; competency hearing is set for May 3

TROY – A not guilty by reason of insanity plea was filed Thursday in a Miami County court for a Troy man accused of murdering his roommate and cutting off the victim’s thumb to continue accessing his phone.

Troy police said Sean Higgins, 25, of Troy, was interviewed April 14 in the disappearance of Easton Ho, 25, and admitted to killing him.

Higgins is charged with aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, theft and receiving stolen property.

Ho’s body was later located in Randolph County, Ind., just north of Richmond, near where Higgins said he disposed of the body, Troy Police Chief Shawn McKinney said. The body later was positively identified as Ho.

Higgins pleaded not guilty April 15 in Miami County Municipal Court and is being held in the county jail on bail of more than $1.5 million.

A written “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea and a request for a competency evaluation were filed Thursday by Troy defense lawyer Jose Lopez.

A preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday before Judge Samuel Huffman was canceled. A competency hearing has been scheduled for May 3.

The charges filed against Higgins alleged he caused the death of Ho with prior calculation, altered or destroyed evidence, stole Ho’s car and had his credit card. The abuse of a corpse charge alleged the cutting off of “the dead victim’s thumb and keeping it to access and use the victim’s cell phone.”

Police said they received a report around 8:30 a.m. April 14 from roommates that Ho was missing from their apartment on Morning Glory Circle in Troy. Higgins was among those at the house when police talked with those living there about Ho.

Police said they were told the circumstances were suspicious, with Ho’s car, suitcase and a mattress missing, and his glasses and shoes left behind, according to the report. McKinney said police believe Ho was killed at the apartment.

A roommate told detectives she noticed the trash was missing from the trash can that morning and police said there was a smell of bleach in the garage, where bleach bottles were found in the recycling bin. They also reported seeing blood spatter on the garage floor.

“Roommates of … Ho reported that he had sent strange texts to them at 2:45 a.m. and failed to show up at work that morning in Miamisburg,” McKinney said. Police believe Higgins, not Ho, sent the strange text messages, he said.

Law enforcement officials in Kettering found Ho’s vehicle there around 6:30 p.m. April 14. Blood was visible in the back of the vehicle “in plain view from outside the vehicle,” according to the search warrant affidavit.

A copy of a request by Troy police to search the vehicle, a 2018 Ford Flex, and the inventory report of that search was obtained Thursday. The report stated blood and DNA swabs were taken from the car.

In the affidavit, a detective wrote that Higgins said he used Ho’s vehicle to transport his body and other evidence from the scene of the killing, disposing of the body and other evidence in the Indiana creek. He said he drove the vehicle to Kettering, removed the license plate and left it in a nearby dumpster before taking an Uber back to Troy.

The initial search warrant obtained by police to search the residence, as well as the inventory of that search, were sealed by the court and unavailable for review.

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