Howard Franklin Stewart
Howard Franklin Stewart
Background information
Born (1949-12-01)December 1, 1949
Springfield, Illinois, United States

September 22, 1987(1987-09-22) (aged 37)
Corsicana, Texas, United States

Cause of death Suicide
Parents Howard Stewart
Spouse(s) Brenda Kay Stouffe
Attack information
Date September 16/22, 1987
Location(s) Lebanon, Missouri & Corsicana, Texas, United States
Killed 6
Weapon(s) .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol
.38-caliber revolver

Howard Franklin Stewart (December 1, 1949 – September 22, 1987) was an American who killed six people in two separate shootings in Lebanon, Missouri and Corsicana, Texas, United States on September 16 and September 22, 1987 respectively, before committing suicide.


Stewart was born in Springfield, Illinois on December 1, 1949 as the son of Howard Stewart, sr., and together with his two sisters, Mary and Bonnie, grew up in Palmyra. At one time he served in the marines in South Carolina for two years, and later lived in Lebanon, Missouri for five years, before moving to Corsicana, Texas in 1985. There he found work at Hulcher Services, Incorporated, an emergency services firm specialising in train wrecks and derailmetns, but was fired by his supervisor, Dennis Wade, six months prior to murders.[1][2][3][4][5]

Stewart was married to Brenda Kay Stouffe with whom he had two sons, Benjamin and Brandon Walker. They lived together in a mobile home at the Shram Trailer Park on Park Row Road, however, in July of 1987 the couple separated and three weeks prior to the murders Brenda asked him to leave the family home.[1][2][3][5]

According to his acquaintances and neighbours Stewart was a strange and irascible loner who rarely smiled and showed affection only towards his two pibulls, a male and a female, which he trained daily and often bragged about their viciousness. They also stated that at one time he killed their puppies, because they had bad teeth and were weak. Furthermore, they related that he constantly wore camouflage clothing and combat boots, hunted rabbits in the vicinity of his home, drank heavily, and smoked marijuana. Stewart told his friends that he had fought in Vietnam, where he was seriously wounded, and had a metal plate in his head. In the summer of 1987 he shaved his head, walked through town with a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol with 50-round magazine strapped to his leg, and preferred to be called Rambo.[1][2][3][6]


Lebanon, MissouriEdit

On September 9, 1987 Stewart wanted to leave Corsicana, telling his family that he needed to get away and might hurt somebody. He was taken by his wife to the local bus station and boarded a bus to Lebanon, arriving there either on September 10 or September 11. He stayed at the summer home of his parents and spent the time building a car port onto the house and target practicing with his .22-caliber pistol.[1][2][3][7][8]

On the morning of September 16, after an argument with one of his relatives over his alcohol and drug problems, Stewart left the house dressed in camouflage fatigues and carrying a backpack and his pistol, stating that he would hitchhike back to Corsicana and also said that he wanted to collect money from people in the area. Stewart was eventually picked up by George and Carol Brewer, who were last seen alive between 3 and 4 p.m. while driving from their home in Niangua to Conway. According to police they were acquainted with Stewart's family for over a year and may have owed him money. Some time afterwards Stewart killed both of them by shooting each twice in the head with his gun. Their car was discovered the next morning around 9:30 a.m. by a deputy sheriff and a search of the area later that afternoon resulted in the finding of George Brewer's body in a forest half a mile north of his vehicle. The body of Carol Brewer, lying in a roadside ditch a mile and a half from her husband, was not found by the searchers until 1:30 p.m. on September 19.[1][2][3][8][9]

After killing the Brewers Stewart caught a ride with Steve Vestal, who was last seen alive by his family around 6 p.m. when he left his home to attend church in Phillipsburg. Stewart killed him as well, again with two shots to the head, and then drove to a parking lot not far from a retirement home near Gasconade Park in Lebanon, where he abandoned the vehicle with the body still slumped over on the passenger seat. Vestal was reported missing by his wife at 9:25 p.m. and he was discovered at about 5:15 p.m the following day. Meanwhile Stewart, who had taken the wallets of his victims and Carol Brewer's purse, returned to his relatives' house around midnight. According to their testimony he looked tense and depressed and reported that he had caught three rides during the day and that one driver had taken off with his backpack before he could get in the car. On the morning of September 18 Stewart boarded a bus to Corsicana where he arrived the following day.[1][2][3]

Police uttered the suspicion that Stewart may have killed another person during his stay in Missouri, as he used an identification card of a Missouri man while picking up merchandise in a Corsicana store. The whereabouts of this man, who was not identified by authorities, were unknown as of October 1987, however, police cautioned that the man travelled extensively and thus may have still been alive.[9]

Corsicana, TexasEdit

Back in Corsicana Stewart left a note for his wife, stating that he wanted to go to California, and spent the next two days with friends camping at Lake Halbert and shooting guns. On September 21 he told his friend, Mark Johnstone, that he had killed three people in Missouri and that he planned more murders, but Johnstone didn't believe him. He also related that he couldn't stand the thought of another man making love to his wife, saying: "If I can't have her, no one will."[1][2][3][10][6]

On September 22 Stewart shot dead his two bulldogs in his van at the Lake Halbert camping ground, but left their six puppies unharmed. Armed with his .22-cailber pistol and an old .38-caliber revolver, dressed in combat fatigue, and ammunition stuffed in his pockets, he then drove with his motorcycle to Hulcher Services Inc., where he arrived at about 1:30 p.m. and asked for the whereabouts of his former supervisor, Dennis Wade. Locating his intended target soon thereafter Stewart approached Wade with both guns in his hands, and without saying a word killed him with ten shots. Afterwards he left in a company pickup for the Western Sizzilin' Restaurant at West Seventh Avenue, where his wife worked as a waitress. There he called out for Brenda, fired three rounds into the ceiling, and demanded to see her, but when he was told by the assistant manager that she wasn't scheduled to report for work until three in the afternoon Stewart thanked her for the information, left the restaurant, colliding with another vehicle in the parking lot on his way out, and drove to his wife's home at the trailer park on Park Row Road.[1][2][3][5][6]

In the meantime the assistant manager called the police, as well as Brenda, telling her that her husband was armed, acting crazy and was on his way to her, but despite the warning she refused to leave her home, thinking she could handle him. When Stewart finally arrived at his destination he left the motor of his truck running, apparently with the intent to escape after killing his wife. Entering the trailer he shot ten times at Brenda's friend, Edward Persons, who was sitting partially clothed on her bed, and fatally hit him in the head, chest and legs. At the sight of Persons' murder Brenda locked herself in the bathroom, however, Stewart fired five rounds through door, kicked it open, and killed her as well. Afterwards he stepped out onto the front porch, and hearing police closing in on the crime scene he shot himself in the head with his revolver, thus ending his 30-minute rampage. He succumbed to his injury shortly thereafter and was buried at the Girard Cemetery in Girard, Illinois on September 26.[1][2][3][4][11]


Killed on September 16:

  • George Ray Brewer, 42
  • Carol Brewer, 36, George Brewer's wife
  • Steven J. Vestal, 38

Killed on September 22:

  • Brenda Kay Stewart, 34, Stewart's wife
  • Dennis James Wade, 30
  • Edward L. Persons, 29


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Haines, Max: Multiple Murderers II; Toronto Sun, 1995. (pp. 214 - 217) ISBN 9781895735161
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Benedict, Barry: Terror Spree of the Rampaging Rambo!, in Crockett, Art (ed.): Serial Murderers; Pinnacle Books, 1990. (pp. 112 - 124) ISBN 9781558174320
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Cox, Bill G.: Howard Frank Stewart - "Two-gun stalker on a murder mission!", in Crockett, Art (ed.): Spree Killers; Pinnacle Books, 1991. (pp. 406 - 426) ISBN 9781558174610
  4. 4.0 4.1 Howard Franklin "Frankie" Stewart at
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Gunman kills 3 and self, The Bryan Times (September 23, 1987) (p. 8)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Man called "Rambo" goes on fatal shooting spree, Spokane Chronicle (September 23, 1987) (p. A8)
  7. Possible Link in Texas, Missouri shootings, The Lakeland Ledger (September 24, 1987) (p. 4A)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Bloody boots identify Texas killer, The Nashua Telegraph (September 25, 1987) (p. 25)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Report says Stewart may have killed 7th person, The Southeast Missourian (October 26, 1987) (p. 2A)
  10. Rambo kills 3, himself, Galveston Daily News (September 23, 1987)
  11. Gunman kills 3, himself, Mohave Daily Miner (September 23, 1987)

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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