Friend of Chesterfield dad charged with murder: ‘He’s not a monster’

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Joshua Federico, the man accused of shooting his estranged wife and her boyfriend last week, appeared in Chesterfield Court via video Monday morning.  The judge denied bond for Federico citing the severity of the charges he faced.

The 44-year-old father of two is charged with maliciously wounding his estranged wife and murdering her boyfriend, 38-year-old Lawrence Howell, in a violent August 24 crime on Second Branch Road.

His estranged wife - whose name has not been released - was recovering in the hospital.

Federico was arrested Sunday in an abandoned Chesterfield home following a nearly three-hour manhunt in Midlothian. That manhunt was set off when a Chesterfield fire medic spotted the shirtless murder suspect walking near a church and Publix grocery story.

"At about 11:21 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2018, police responded to the 13700 block of Hull Street Road for a reported sighting of Federico. Over the next several hours, sightings were reported in the Deer Run community," a Chesterfield Police spokesperson said. "Chesterfield County Police, with the assistance of Virginia State Police, Richmond City Police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, were able to locate Federico in the area of the 7900 block of Spring Run Road. Federico was taken into custody without incident."

Joe Leonard, a friend of Federico, said he knew of troubles between Federico and his wife, but never could have imagined this outcome.

"I still haven't grasped it all, it's kind of confusing and some of the things I'm seeing and hearing just aren't accurate," Leonard said. "He's not a monster, he's a good guy... I wouldn't see him doing that, he's not that kind of guy."

Police charged Federico with murder, after human remains believed to be those of Howell, were discovered near Federico's Black Road home.

Court documents: Suspect filed for divorce

Court records showed Federico filed for divorce June 12, 2018. He claimed his wife committed adultery on several occasions since their August 2012 wedding.

In a cross-complaint, she neither admitted nor denied the allegations, but called for “strict proof" and moved out of their home in April. The woman filed a protective order against Federico when she moved.

“The plaintiff [Joshua Federico] has been guilty of extreme cruelty to the defendant, has caused her to have a car accident, has belittled her, has tried to ruin her financially, has stolen her money and her cell phone and wanted her to leave him,” court documents stated.

The woman's attorney said she feared for her client’s safety and that her client was "extremely scared" of Federico.

Additionally, friends said the woman's home was broken into earlier this month and that her safe, computers, and gun were stolen. Police said the investigation remained ongoing.