There was little Justin Howard couldn’t do. If in the chance he didn’t know how to accomplish something, he would research and watch YouTube videos until he figured it out.

Justin Howard is shown in an undated photo. Photo courtesy of Amanda Howard

He was a skilled artist who could draw or sketch most any scene or portrait he came across. Years ago he used to be a tattoo artist.

“He was such a smart man. Probably too smart if you ask me,” his partner, Amanda Howard, said in an email. “He battled addiction most of his life and made a lot of bad decisions as a result, but that didn’t define who he was. He would give the shirt off his back to the people he cared about.”

Amanda Howard’s account of Justin Howard came the days after his body was discovered May 22 in the Sebasticook River in Benton, and it’s the first explanation of his life since he was last seen entering the Sebasticook in Clinton on March 28.

Authorities during the time that the 36-year-old Howard was missing released little information about him, including what prompted him to enter the water. The State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed the cause of death as drowning.

Amanda Howard spoke by email last week of Justin’s talents and interests, and also the addiction and demons that dogged him in the time before his death. The two were divorced, although they had reconciled at the time of his death and were living together in Waterville.


Justin, or Jay as his friends called him, was a 2004 graduate of Lawrence High School. The pair had been married for seven years and have two sons together, Jaidyn, 10, and Deakyn, 7. Justin also has a 14-year-old daughter named Kierra, a 16-year-old stepdaughter named Skylar, and a son who is turning 2 named Kashious.

“He loved his kids more than anything, but his demons sometimes prevented him from being able to be a father, but that ate at him every single day,” she said.

Justin had bipolar disorder and wasn’t taking medications to treat it, she said.

“I feel he wouldn’t allow the drugs to take over like they did if he got his bipolar under control,” she said.

She said Justin wasn’t close to his family, despite how hard they tried to be there for him, mostly because his addiction caused him to push them away.

“He was the love of my life. He was my absolute best friend. Even when we were separated he always knew he could come to me if he needed anything,” Howard said.

“I think he believed that he didn’t deserve to be loved no matter how hard I tried to convince him otherwise,” she said. “He has a lot of people that love him, and it breaks my heart that he died believing nobody did.”

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