Chicago police identified the man responsible for a series of anti-gay hate crimes because he is the only person in the area who bought a bumper sticker showing Donald Trump urinating on Joe Biden’s name, prosecutors said Thursday.
That unusual detail about CPD’s lengthy investigation was revealed during a bail hearing for Thomas Howard, 62, on Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve taken ownership of what I’ve done, and I’m not proud of it,” said Howard as he appeared before Judge Barbara Dawkins.
Between May and January, Howard repeatedly targeted a family’s home in the 5700 block of North Mason with anti-gay actions, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt said.
Howard went on the family’s porch twice last year, in May and again in July, to chop their pride flag in half, Dale-Schmidt said. In the latter incident, he “flipped off” the family’s security camera. A few months later, he sprayed their rainbow flag with stain from a Super Soaker.
Time after time, he left “right-wing political notes and stickers” on the family’s home as surveillance cameras recorded him, said Dale-Schmidt.
Even though Howard lived less than a block from the family’s home, nobody recognized him even after media reports spread news of the crimes last autumn.
After supporters helped the family paint over hateful messages he left on their garage last fall, Howard allegedly returned to paint “creeps,” “weirdos,” and “POS dems” on the property. To cap it off, he slapped a bumper sticker on the family’s garage that showed former President Donald Trump urinating on President Joe Biden’s last name, Dale-Schmidt said.
Investigators learned that the only place in the world to buy the Trump-Biden sticker was from an eBay seller. And, after getting a grand jury subpoena for eBay sales records, police determined that Thomas Howard was the only person in the area who bought one, said Dale-Schmidt.
After learning Howard’s name, Chicago police detectives determined that Howard had been involved in a traffic accident while driving a car with a People’s Gas logo on the side. And People’s Gas told cops that Howard had been given “multiple coachings” about having political discussions at work, according to Dale-Schimdt.
She said Howard’s job involved using high-visibility spray paint similar to the kind used in the crimes, which occurred when he was off work.
Calling the allegations “harmful and repugnant,” Judge Barbara Dawkins ordered Howard to pay an $8,000 bail deposit to be released from jail. He is charged with felony counts of hate crime, stalking, and criminal damage to property.