<
>

Triple jumper competed in '96, '00 Games

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Police said Monday they believe a
former Olympic athlete killed his neurosurgeon wife before jumping
to his death from a 10th-story dormitory window.

Investigators identified the man as Robert Howard, a University
of Arkansas medical student who competed in track and field in the
1996 and 2000 Olympics, said medical school police Capt. Bryan
Patterson.

"Nobody that I know of had any kind of a hint that there were
any kind of problems at all, let alone problems to that degree,"
said Dick Booth, an assistant coach at Arkansas who helped Howard
prepare for the Olympic trials last month.

Leslie Taylor, a spokeswoman for University of Arkansas for
Medical Sciences, said campus police received a call early Saturday
from someone concerned about a medical student.

Police arrived at the dormitory room and tried to talk to the
man, but he jumped out of the window about 20 minutes later,
Patterson said.

Later that morning, investigators went to a private residence
and found the student's wife, Dr. Robin Mitchell, stabbed to death.
Mitchell was chief resident in neurosurgery at the medical school.

"There is evidence that the student killed his wife," Little
Rock police said in a news release.

Howard finished eighth in the triple jump at the 1996 Olympics
in Atlanta and seventh at the 2000 Games in Sydney. The former
All-American and NCAA champion, who competed for the university
from 1994-98, took last year off from medical school in an
unsuccessful bid to make the Olympic team this year.

Howard graduated from Shea High School in Pawtucket, R.I., in
1994 where he was one of the state's all-time top high school track
performers.
"This is the last thing you would expect from somebody like
Rob, but you never know what's going on in people's lives," said
Thom Spann, Howard's high school coach.