Helen Jean Lee update: Unidentified body found in desert; grandson considered 'prime suspect'

GOODYEAR, AZ - Goodyear police announced Saturday that they have discovered a body in the desert near Gila Bend, possibly related to the case of Helen Jean Lee , a Valley grandmother who has been missing since Wednesday.

Lisa Kutis, spokeswoman for the Goodyear Police Department, said Jason Howell, Lee's grandson, is now considered a "prime suspect" in her disappearance.

Howell was arrested on Wednesday after he allegedly carjacked a woman and engaged officers in a pursuit .

Goodyear police, with the assistance of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office search team and a K9, discovered the body in the desert west of Gila Bend, Kutis said.

The body, which has not been identified, was discovered in the "general area" where Howell led detectives to find additional evidence.

Police were continuing to investigate and process the scene near her home Saturday afternoon.

Howell had been staying with Lee, 78, at her home in Goodyear. A  neighbor said he felt Lee was "frustrated over the years with his behavior."

Another neighbor said he wasn't surprised about what happened since he'd seen police at Helen's home multiple times over the years.

Howell was taken into custody on Wednesday after allegedly stealing a car left running outside Kyrene Del Cielo with a 12-year-old girl inside. The girl was able to get out of the car before Howell drove away.

As he fled police, Howell allegedly rammed at least two police cars. The chase ended with Howell's arrest at Future City Park near 50th Street and Ray Road.

According to court documents released Friday, Howell admitted to being drunk and high on meth that night.

Those same papers label him as "a suspect in an active murder investigation," and his bail was set at $300,000.

While in custody for the carjacking, Howell gave detectives more information that led them just west of Gila Bend.

ABC15 on Thursday morning was outside Lee's home near McDowell and Litchfield roads, where the garage door could be seen smashed in as police tape surrounded the property.

During a search of the home, detectives reportedly found evidence that indicates foul play.

Police also say Helen's car was found near the crime scene of the carjacking in Chandler.

Howell is scheduled to be back in court November 7 for charges relating to that incident.

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