Suspect in MSU student's death accused of fleeing to Thailand

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PONTIAC — A driver who struck and killed a Michigan State University student on New Year’s Day has been charged in a federal warrant with fleeing the country to avoid prosecution, Oakland County officials said in a release.

The warrant was signed in U.S. District Court on Monday, charging Tubtim Howson with interstate flight to avoid prosecution, a five-year felony.

Howson, 57, was charged by Oakland County prosecutors last week with failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in the death of Benjamin Kable, 22, of Shelby Township, which also is a five-year felony. Police have said it isn't clear whether Kale was walking or standing in the roadway when he was struck.

Benjamin Kable
Benjamin Kable

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard called on the Thai government to extradite Howson. Bouchard also said that the FBI is working with Oakland County to return Howson to the state.

“I am proud of the work our team did to identify this individual and learn that she had fled the country right after the accident,” he said in a statement. “We immediately engaged our partners at the FBI to keep them in the loop as we sought warrants so that they in turn could seek federal warrants for flight.”

James Tarasca, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, said that the agency is assisting in the effort to locate Howson.

“We value our strong partnership with Sheriff Bouchard and the men and women of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, and we will provide all necessary resources to return Tubtim Howson to Oakland County and bring her to justice,” he said.

The sheriff’s office said the crash happened just before 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 when Howson struck Kable on Rochester Road in Oakland Township. Kable, who was home on holiday break, was pronounced dead at the scene. According to deputies, it remains unknown if Kable was standing or walking in the roadway when he was hit.

Howson was on her way to work and fled the scene after the crash, authorities said. Investigators determined that Howson left Detroit on Jan. 3, traveling from Dallas to Finland to Bangkok, where she arrived on Jan. 5.

A criminal complaint filed Monday by FBI Special Agent Matthew Schuff said that Howson is a U.S. citizen but is originally from Thailand.

Schuff said that Howson allegedly told a close associate she thought she had killed someone in the crash and shared her plan to go back to Thailand. Schuff also said that Howson was allegedly encouraged to turn herself in to the authorities, to which she responded “no cops, no cops.”

Contact Sheldon Krause at Follow him on Twitter @sheldonjkrause.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Suspect in MSU student hit and run accused of fleeing to Thailand