LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Police said yesterday they believe a former Olympic athlete killed his neurosurgeon wife before jumping to his death from a 10th-story dormitory window.
Investigators identified the man as Robert Howard, a University of Arkansas medical student who competed in track and field in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics but did not make the US team this year, said University of Arkansas medical school police Capt. Bryan Patterson.
"Nobody that I know of had any kind of a hint that there were any kind of problems at all, let alone problems to that degree," said Dick Booth, an assistant coach at Arkansas who helped Howard prepare for the Olympic Trials last month.
Leslie Taylor, a spokeswoman for University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said campus police received a call early Saturday about a medical student.
Police arrived at the dormitory room and tried to talk to the man, but he jumped out a window about 20 minutes later.
Later that morning, investigators went to a private residence and found the student's wife, Dr. Robin Mitchell, stabbed to death. Mitchell was chief resident in neurosurgery at the medical school.
"There is evidence that the student killed his wife," police said.
Howard, who went to high school in Pawtucket, R.I., finished eighth in the triple jump at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and seventh at the 2000 Games in Sydney. The former All-American and NCAA champion, who competed for the university from 1994-98, took last year off from medical school in an unsuccessful bid to make the Olympic team this year.
Howard graduated from Shea High School in Pawtucket in 1994, where he was one of the state's all-time top track performers.
"This is the last thing you would expect from somebody like Rob, but you never know what's going on in people's lives," said Thom Spann, Howard's high school coach.