Suspect in Tx. Cheerleader Slaying Said Couple Had Rough 'Make Up Sex' — But Investigators Say It Was Rape

The man accused of killing Trinity University cheerleader Cayley Mandadi initially told police that the injuries on her body when he brought her in from the hospital were caused by the “rough make up sex” the couple had.

But Texas investigators found Mandadi’s injuries were much more extensive, including “head to toe” red marks, bruises and scratches – injuries authorities said did not match suspect Mark Howerton’s descriptions, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.

In fact, the affidavit states, Mandadi’s injuries were consistent with “physical and violent sexual assault.”

Howerton, 22, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault charges in Mandadi’s October 30 death. Howerton, who had known Mandadi for eight months but had been dating her for about four weeks, was released after posting a $225,000 bond.

Mark Howerton
Mark Howerton

The case came to light October 29 when the 19-year-old cheerleader was brought unresponsive to a Luling hospital nude from the waist down with bruises on her neck and thigh area after she fell unconscious while in a car traveling to Houston with Howerton.

She was taken off life support and pronounced brain dead on Oct. 30.

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Howerton told police that the couple had spent the weekend partying at the Mala Luna music festival in San Antonio, where they consumed “Molly” and Crown Royal whiskey.

He allegedly said he brought the teenager to the hospital after she fell unconscious after “rough make up sex” the couple had after getting into an argument after seeing her ex-boyfriend at the festival.

After the argument, Howerton claimed Mandadi agreed to go to Houston with him. Howerton allegedly claimed she said the pair were “soul mate(s),” and that she planned to drop out of school for him. The make up sex, he claimed, occurred in the parking lot of a Valero gas station and included hair pulling, light choking and scratching.

However, police didn’t believe his claims, and neither did the doctors who immediately noticed bruising around Mandadi’s neck and thighs, which Howerton allegedly explained away as coming from the rough sex they’d had.

Doctors said the injuries were inconsistent with Howerton’s “rough sex” story, and noted it instead appeared Mandadi had endured a “physical and violent sexual assault.”

In the affidavits, friends of Mandadi’s described an alleged violent relationship between the couple that dated back to at least September, when he allegedly destroyed her dorm room.

Howerton allegedly blamed the incident on “roid rage,” from his alleged steroid use, according to the affidavit.

Cayley Mandadi
Cayley Mandadi

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A friend of Mandadi’s also alleged that Howerton not only used steroids but sold them. One of Howerton’s friends alleged he bought steroids from him. Another of Howerton’s friends alleged Howerton had sold steroids to several students at Trinity University.

The university allegedly barred Howerton from the school campus for a year after he damaged the dorm room.

Multiple friends also described hearing of an incident where Howerton allegedly slammed Mandadi’s head against a car window, waved a gun in her face and threatened to toss her off a balcony, the affidavit states.

One sorority friend told police that Mandadi was terrified of Howerton “but didn’t know what else to do, other than to give in to the defendant.”

Howerton’s attorney, John Hunter, said in a statement that the public shouldn’t rush to judgement, noting his client turned himself in Wednesday afternoon.

“Mr. Howerton maintains his innocence, and we ask the public to honor the presumption of his innocence,” the statement reads. “Mr. Howerton is ready and eager to vindicate himself in court. He’s innocent of the charges and he’s doing the right thing. If someone has a warrant out for his arrest, then he needs to turn himself in.”