Federal hearing set March 11 for man connected to Caleb Diehl disappearance

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MONTAGUE COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — A former Bowie banker is now sitting in the Wichita County Jail awaiting his preliminary hearing in federal court to face charges of recording sexually explicit conduct with a minor, who went missing in Montague County in March 2015.

The hearing for 59-year-old Ricky Dale Howard is set for March 11 in the U.S. District court in Wichita Falls.

Howard was put in custody here following his release from state prison after serving a five-year sentence on 11 counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He had been convicted of federal bank fraud about 10 years earlier.

The gun sentence came a year after he was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in two separate cases, after two men came forward and said they had been assaulted multiple times in the 90’s while working for Howard.

One was 12-years-old and the other 13-years-old at the time.

The then 13-year-old estimated he was assaulted about 500 times.

Howard was arrested on those charges in 2015 during an investigation of the disappearance of 18-year-old Caleb Diehl of Nocona, who also worked part-time for Howard.

Authorities say Diehl was in a truck owned by Howard in march of 2015 when he disappeared.

The truck was seen on hHward’s property a few days later.

The new federal charge alleges Howard induced or coerced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and imaged were recorded and stored in a computer.

A special agent of the FBI obtained images and included them in the sealed complaint filed last month.

The agent said 300 images of child pornography in Ricky Howard’s laptop included images of the missing teen when he was a minor, taken over a period of several years.

The agent said he also found four images showing Howard in sexual conduct with the boy and the missing boy’s family estimated him to be 13 to 15 years old then.

They said the boy routinely visited Howard from the ages of 13 to 15, and that the images were taken in a camper trailer owned by Howard.

While these federal charges and the sexual assault charges came as a result of the investigation into the unsolved disappearance of Caleb Diehl, that missing person case remains open.

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