Panel 2: Oh no. Oh god. Oh please don't let Paul be dead. I'm serious. Lynnions, don't do this to us.
Panel 3: He knows she's a Miss. This is serious.
Panel 4: Oh jeez. She looks really old here.
Panel 5: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
ETA: Well, the reason I didn't guess Howard is because THE LETTERS TOLD US, last October, that "Howard the Jerk" had been charged with sexual assault and "had a court date coming up." I figured we'd gotten all the resolution we ever would.
So how are they going to reconcile this with the letters? It could be a matter of the cop saying, "We finally caught him," but according to THE LETTERS, he's already been caught. Is this an attempt to appease us, by recapping the same stuff that we were told IN THE LETTERS, about Howard having multiple charges against him, being bailed out by his parents, and having a court date scheduled? But wouldn't Liz have been updated on this herself, earlier? The last panel makes it sound like Howard's finally been apprehended, not that he's finally been convicted. A cop wouldn't be bringing her the news of a conviction anyway; this sounds more like a "We need you to testify" call. So is it official: the letters have absolutely zilch to do with the strip?
(And theoretically, this could be viewed as a valid reason for Liz to be in Milborough. But if so, I don't buy that either. She could easily have taken a few days off from Mtig (complete with a pun about hunting or checking traplines) and have that tie in with missing a visit with Paul, who gets flustered because that was the weekend he was going to declare himself.)