Seventeen-year-old Carlos Hallowell attacked his adoptive mother, Denise Hallowell, with an ax after getting angered by an argument over his schooling. The teen later called 911, informing them of the horrifying discovery he had made. Carlos later told police that he was present at the crime scene but slept through the incident and only woke up when their dogs started barking.
Denise was found with an ax embedded in the back of her head. Carlos was only implicated in the crime after detectives found digital evidence at the bottom of the lake neighboring their Florida home. The evidence refuted the teen’s claims, and when confronted with the information, he admitted to being angry at the 57-year-old but maintained that he had no memory of the attack.
In 2021, Carlos Hallowell was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison with a sentence review after 25 years. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, he is now serving time at the Jackson Correctional Institution.
NBC Dateline is slated to chronicle Denise Hallowell’s gruesome ax murder case in an episode titled Horror at the Lake, which will air on the channel on Friday, August 18, at 9 pm ET. The official synopsis states:
“Terror sweeps through a quiet Florida community when a local teacher is murdered with an axe in her lakefront home. Dennis Murphy reports.”
Denise Hallowell’s adoptive son Carlos Hallowell was found guilty two years after her murder
Carlos Hallowell, the adoptive son of Denise Hallowell, a former school teacher who was found murdered with an ax at their lakefront Florida home in the evening hours of July 13, 2019, was found guilty of premeditated murder nearly two years after the crime.
According to a Fox 13 report, Carlos Hallowell, who was the first to discover the crime scene and call 911, claimed that he was sleeping when the incident occurred and was awoken by the loud barking of their dogs. He maintained his innocence in the crime.
When first responders arrived at the scene, they found Denise dead of severe ax wounds in her bedroom, with the weapon still embedded in the back of her head. There were no visible signs of a forced entry.
Police also learned of the first time Denise Hallowell made headlines in September 2015, when her second, younger adoptive son accused her of physically abusing him. The allegations stated that she physically abused the 12-year-old boy adopted from Honduras by locking him inside a room and starving him.
Reports mentioned that back then, Denise was released partly due to a lack of evidence and, secondly, because her other adoptive son, Carlos, defended her. Denise also told investigators that her younger son had a troubled past, a claim that Carlos corroborated.
Carlos Hallowell claimed he walked up to Denise’s room with the ax and blacked out before waking up to find her dead body
According to the Citrus County Chronicle, detectives linked Carlos Hallowell to Denise Hallowell’s slaying using the latter’s iPhone and three security cameras found at the bottom of the lake. These devices had been removed from the house, and once confronted, the 17-year-old admitted to throwing them in the lake because he “panicked.”
The digital evidence extracted from the devices incriminated Carlos, especially his claim that he was napping while his mother was being mutilated by an ax. He eventually changed his narrative and confessed to having an argument with Denise that afternoon.
Carlos claimed that the two had a history of bickering and that his adoptive mother was verbally abusive. That particular argument was over his schooling because he wanted to pursue technical college instead of the four-year degree that Denise wanted for him.
As part of his confession, Carlos revealed that he was angry and took out his ax from the shed to sharpen it in the garage as he intended to chop wood. But then, wielding the ax, he walked up to Denise’s bedroom, where she was sleeping, and then blacked-out only wake up to find her with the sharp weapon embedded in her head.
Carlos Hallowell was charged with murder and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Two years after the murder, when he was 19, he was convicted, receiving a life sentence, and will be eligible for a sentence review only after 25 years.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Carlos is now serving his sentence at the Jackson Correctional Institution.
NBC Dateline will further delve into the case this Friday at 9 pm ET.
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