A man and woman charged in the brutal killing of 42-year-old Jeffrey Howe in a Woodland Hills hotel this month claim they were trying to get back items the victim stole from them when they were partying together, according to new details authorities released about the case
Anthony Phillip Ostroff, 70, and Calene Anne Frank, 52, were charged Monday with the first-degree murder of Howe, whose body was found bound and handcuffed March 10 on the floor of a Extended Stay America hotel on Ventura Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Ostroff, also known as Anthony Saviano, and Frank — who also goes by Calene Brudek — were arrested Friday afternoon in the 7100 block of Bothwell Road in Reseda, where the two were living together, according to court documents and the Los Angeles Police Department.
The suspects, victim and another person partied the night before Howe’s murder in the hotel, and drugs and alcohol were involved, said Steve Castro, a homicide detective with the LAPD’s Valley Bureau.
Castro said the suspects claim that Howe took items from them, including a wallet. Upset, they entered his room the following day to retrieve them, he said.
“There may be some truth to that,” he said, “But what they did in order to get it back is just completely over the top.”
Around 5:30 p.m., LAPD officers responded to reports of battery at a residence. Topanga-area patrol officers arrived to find Howe on the floor in a room at a hotel.
Officials said the man’s feet were tied together, and his hands were handcuffed behind his back. Strangulation marks were visible on his neck. Paramedics declared him dead at the scene.
Castro said the suspects took their reported belongings, but also made off with additional items.
The coroner’s case file does not list Howe’s cause of death, but Castro said it was strangulation.
Castro said Ostroff and Frank did not know Howe well, and they were not friends — despite hanging out that night.
The suspects’ relationship is not entirely clear, but they appeared to be living together, Castro said. They are both being held on $2-million bail, inmate records show.
An arraignment was scheduled for Monday afternoon in the Van Nuys courthouse. Ostroff and Frank are each facing one count of murder.