According to Deadline, Paramount+ picked up ‘Never Seen Again’ for a second season. The true crime series opens with a two-part tale of a high school senior, who never showed up for school.
On March 29, 2015, Diehl was visiting his mom in Nocona and borrowed a truck from family friend Ricky Howard. After Diehl left his mom’s house, he said he would return the next day for school, but the truck was found a few days later at Howard’s place but Diehl was nowhere to be found.
The case reopened in October 2017 when judge Kevin Benton, named Ricky Howard a person of interest. About a year and a half later, Diehl’s mom found a tape recorder and other items, including handwritten notes in Howard’s handwriting, and a manuscript on how to pass a polygraph test. The tape recorder revealed what appears to be Howard’s voice asking questions during a polygraph test.
As the investigation continued, clues lead back to Howard. The investigation later leads to evidence of Howard sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy more than 500 times over a four-year period. Howard posted bond after being arrested and charged with the crimes.
Benton said after investigators obtained a search warrant for one of Howard’s computers, hundreds of images were found of child pornography, including multiple pictures of Caleb.
Investigators continued their investigation, which lead them to Howard’s daughter’s house in Tennessee. There, they obtained a laptop that also continued multiple images of child pornography, including images of Howard committing sex acts with Caleb.
At this point, the case turned from a missing persons case to a child pornography investigation and then to a sex crimes investigation.
Benton said investigators have multiple call logs between Caleb and Howard on the day of and days leading up to Caleb’s disappearance. Benton said the last call between the two took place at a repair shop that Howard owned, then Caleb’s phone goes dead. Benton said Howard’s phone was tracked and found the signal heading to a ranch he owned, but the phone went dead.
“I’m going to say that Ricky Howard is certainly a suspect in the disappearance based on, all of the circumstances that surround it,” Montague County Judge Kevin Benton said. “You know, Ricky Howard back originally failed a polygraph on this issue. A truck showed up. There are just many things. You know, he claims that he finds a telephone that night in his shop, laying on the floor that’s broken and he throws it away.”
In October 2021, the former Nocona banker and rancher received the maximum sentence for charges of sexual exploitation of a child. Howard was sentenced to 30 years.
Not long after the mistrial was declared on July 20, 2021, he pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a child.
Howard was originally tried for sexual exploitation of a child, receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography. Multiple investigations led to this trial.
The two-part season premiere streams Tuesday, July 26.
If you have any information on Caleb’s disappearance, call the Montague County Crime Stoppers at (940) 894-2871, the Nocona Police Department at (940) 825-3281, or the Montague County District Attorney’s office at (940) 894-6211.