Suspects partied with Woodland Hills victim, detectives say

A man and woman charged with the brutal murder of Jeffrey Howe, 42, at a Woodland Hills hotel this month, say they were trying to retrieve items the victim stole from them when they were partying together, according to new details released by authorities about the case

Anthony Phillip Ostroff, 70, and Calene Anne Frank, 52, were charged on Monday with the first-degree murder of Howe, whose body was found bound and handcuffed on March 10 on the floor of an Extended Stay America hotel on Ventura Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Ostroff, also known as Anthony Saviano, and Frank – who also goes by Calene Brudek – were arrested on Friday afternoon in the 7100 block of Bothwell Road in Reseda, where the two lived together, according to court documents and the Los Angeles Police Department.

The suspects, victim and another person partied the night before Howe’s murder at the hotel, and drugs and alcohol were involved, said Steve Castro, a homicide detective with LAPD’s Valley Bureau. .

Castro said the suspects claim Howe took items from them, including a wallet. Upset, they entered his room the next day to retrieve them, he said.

“There may be some truth to that,” he said, “but what they did to get him back is just overblown.”

Around 5:30 p.m., LAPD officers responded to reports of assault and battery at a residence. Patrol officers from the Topanga area arrived to find Howe on the floor in a hotel room.

Officials said the man’s feet were tied together and his hands were cuffed behind his back. Strangulation marks were visible on his neck. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Castro said the suspects took their personal belongings, but also took additional items.

The coroner’s file does not state the cause of Howe’s death, but Castro said it was strangulation.

Castro said Ostroff and Frank didn’t know Howe well and weren’t friends – despite dating that night.

The suspects’ relationship isn’t entirely clear, but they appeared to be living together, Castro said. They are both being held on $2 million bail, according to inmate records.

An arraignment was scheduled for Monday afternoon at the Van Nuys courthouse. Ostroff and Frank each face one count of murder.

Los Angeles Times

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