Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Supplied
Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Supplied

Rough sex claim doubted in cheerleader’s death

A FORMER acclaimed athlete has turned himself in over the death of his cheerleader girlfriend last year.

KSAT reports that Mark Howerton, 22, has been charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault and criminal mischief.

"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," said Howerton's lawyer, John Hunter.

Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Supplied
Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Supplied

Cayley Mandadi, 19, had been dating Howerton for just four weeks when they went to the Mala Luna music festival over Halloween last year.

Howerton told investigators he and Mandadi had partied over the weekend, drinking a lot of whiskey and taking the party drug molly.

On the second day of the festival, the couple reportedly had an argument over Mandadi's ex-boyfriend and left.

Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi.  Picture:  Facebook
Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Facebook

Authorities said the made up in the car and Mandadi agreed to go to Houston with Howerton.

Investigators said Mandadi told Howerton he was her soulmate and she was going to drop out of Trinity College to be with him.

Howerton told police they stopped at a petrol station just outside San Antonio to have rough make-up sex.

He said it included hair pulling, light choking and scratching.

Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Facebook
Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Facebook

Mandadi said she wasn't feeling well and fell asleep in the car as Howerton drove on to Houston but he says he soon noticed she wasn't breathing and tried CPR before driving to a nearby hospital.

The police affidavit says Mandadi was covered "from head to toe" with red marks, bruises and scratches, with both of her eyelids swollen and bruised.

"The only areas of [Mandadi] with no evidence of injury were her back and the back of her legs," the affidavit says.

Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Facebook
Mark Howerton has been arrested for the rape and murder of his cheerleader girlfriend Cayley Mandadi. Picture: Facebook

She was pronounced brain dead the next day on October 30 and taken off life support the day after.

An autopsy found that her injuries did not line up with Howerton's claim of 'rough sex,' but instead line up with 'physical and violent sexual assault'.

Her cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Authorities interviewed Mandadi's ex-boyfriend who said he saw Howerton grab Mandadi's arm in an aggressive manner as the couple was leaving the festival the day before. He said he didn't see any injuries on her at the time.

Howerton is a former baseball player who was once profiled and named Athlete of the Week.

Mandadi's family released a statement thanking police and hospital staff.

"We remain utterly devastated by the loss of Cayley. We ask people of faith to pray for her family, friends, and for justice in this case," they said.


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