Man pleads guilty to insurance agent's murder

RALEIGH Former insurance agent Michael Howell pleaded guilty Thursday to 25 counts of embezzlement. He also agreed to plead guilty to killing 44-year-old Sallie Rohrbach of Angier. The 41-year-old will be in prison for almost 30 years.

Rohrbach's family says they're glad the case is coming to a close.

Rohrbach, a Department of Insuance agent, was reported missing May 16, 2008.

According to e-mails discovered during the investigation of her murder, Rohrbach had uncovered Howell's possible embezzlement.

When she was reported missing, she was visiting Howell's agency in Charlotte, conducting an investigation that was supposed to last a week.

She e-mailed her boss saying, "He is floating money."

In fact, several e-mails were sent May 13 detailing inconsistencies she had discovered. It was the last day family and friends heard from Rohrbach.

Her body was found a few days later in a wooded area near Fort Mill, S.C., about 25 miles away from Howell's agency.

Howell was previously charged with first-degree murder in the death of Rohrbach. But in Febuary, he was also charged with 25 counts of embezzlement after eight months of investigation into the Dilworth Agency -- the agency he owned.

Each of the embezzlement charges represents a customer premium payment that Howell allegedly kept instead of forwarding it to an insurance company.

Those transactions took place between March 2004 and May 2008 and were to cover premiums owed to GMAC Insurance and Discovery Insurance companies.

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