Boyfriend Arrested After Missing Woman’s Body Found Burned & Scattered ‘In Several Locations’

A Florida man has been arrested after mutilated remains found in a Brevard County forest area were identified as his missing girlfriend, according to a shocking press release over the weekend.

Nancy Howery, 44 had been reported missing back on February 18 after her ex-husband reported she had failed to pick up their children from school — and had not been seen for an additional three days afterward. Police found she had last been seen on February 15 at a gun club in Palm Bay. She had been spending time with a friend, who claimed she was scheduled to meet up with her boyfriend later.

The missing persons investigation took a dark turn when Howery’s abandoned Honda Odyssey was found on the side of the road. Police interviewed Nancy’s boyfriend, Daniel Stearns, 32, twice during the investigation. According to Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who spoke in a press conference, Stearns showed “significant areas of deception, and truly identified himself as a prime suspect in the case.”

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Once they had a suspect, they simply followed him — and investigated his movements over the previous days. That led police to an area in Palm Bay they call “The Compound” — and, disturbingly, “five different crime scenes” within. Stearns was apparently paranoid about being connected to Nancy’s death and decided to burn, dismember, and bury her body in multiple locations. Per the press release:

“The suspect returned to the scene of the crime and then burned the victim’s body in an effort to destroy any evidence connecting him to the murder. After burning the body, the perpetrator took the charred remains of the victim and scattered them in several locations, including burying them in multiple areas of the Compound.”

This was all after police had begun watching him. They say they caught him red-handed trying to bury partial remains. Eventually he confessed and was charged with second-degree murder with a firearm, mutilation of a dead body, and tampering with evidence. He is being held without bail at Brevard County Jail.

Police told WESH they believe the two were having a heated argument when Stearns shot Nancy in a rage. Horrible. And instead of coming clean, to do that to her body. It’s so hard to fathom someone could do this to a loved one…

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. Consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or text START to 88788, or go to

[Image via Brevard County Sheriffs Office.]

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