On Feb. 18, Nancy Howery, 44, was reported missing by her ex-husband in Indian Harbour Beach after she failed to pick up her kids from school, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said.
The following day, officers said Howery’s Honda Odyssey was found abandoned on the side of the road. Dogs searched the area, but they were unable to locate the missing woman.
Investigators determined the last time Howery was seen was on Feb. 15 while visiting a friend in Palm Bay.
That friend talked with investigators and said Howery was supposed to meet her boyfriend, Daniel Stearns, 32, on the same day. Police said Howery and Stearns met on a social media site.
Police said Stearns allegedly dismembered and burned the victim's body over the next few days, burying the remains in several different locations.
The Sheriff’s Office said they interviewed Stearns and he was considered a prime suspect after he allegedly showed signs of “deception”.
Officials said Investigators followed Stearns to an area in Palm Bay known as “The Compound" and determined he was carrying a body that appeared to be burned.
Investigators searched the area and discovered human remains, which were sent for further forensic testing.
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Stearns eventually confessed to killing Howery, burning her remains and then trying to bury the body, officials said.
His home was searched, and investigators recovered multiple firearms from the property, police said.
While authorities have not positively identified the remains, they believe the body belongs Howery based on Stearns’ confession and the evidence collected in connection with the case, authorities said.
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