SHERIFF IVEY: Nancy Howery Positively Identified as Murder Victim; Body Was Burned, Scattered in ‘The Compound’ in Palm Bay

By  //  March 12, 2023

Howery was reported missing from Indian Harbour Beach Feb. 18

Nancy Howery is positively identified as the victim of homicide as suspect Daniel Stearns is held without bond at the Brevard County Jail. As part of our continued updates on this Homicide Case, just hours ago our Identification Unit has positively identified Nancy Howery from partial remains that were discovered at the main crime scene in the area commonly referred to as “The Compound” in Palm Bay. (BCSO image)

Stearns charged with Second Degree Murder, Tampering with Evidence, and Mutilation of a Dead Body.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Nancy Howery is positively identified as the victim of homicide as suspect Daniel Stearns is held without bond at the Brevard County Jail.

As part of our continued updates on this Homicide Case, just hours ago our Identification Unit has positively identified Nancy Howery from partial remains that were discovered at the main crime scene in the area commonly referred to as “The Compound” in Palm Bay.

Our investigation to this point has revealed that the suspect, Daniel Stearns, killed the victim and subsequently left her remains in a wooded area for several days. 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.

Stearns was arrested by our team after over 50 hours of surveillance conducted by our GAMEOVER Task Force, Fugitive Unit, and Aviation Unit, physically caught Stearns in the act of trying to further hide the remains, as he was attempting to bury various pieces in a wooded area.

Earlier today, Judge Kathryn Jacobus ordered Stearns to be held without bond and he is currently detained at the Brevard County Jail on charges of Second Degree Murder With a Firearm, Mutilation of a Dead Body, and Tampering With Evidence.

The closure of this case is the direct result of the efforts of the Indian Harbour Beach Police Department, the Palm Bay Police Department, and the amazing work of our GAMEOVER Task Force, Fugitive Unit, Aviation Unit, Homicide Unit, Crime Scene Team, K9 Unit, and Identification Unit!! Without their efforts this case may have never been solved and the suspect never brought to justice!!

Please join me in thanking everyone involved in the investigation of this case for their amazing work and dedication to finding justice for the victim and her family.

– Sheriff Wayne Ivey

PREVIOUS REPORT:

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 32-year-old Daniel Stearns of Palm Bay for murder after human remains were discovered in a densely wooded area of Palm Bay. The remains are believed to be those of 44-year-old Nancy Howery, who was reported missing from Indian Harbour Beach on February 18. (BCSO image)

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 32-year-old Daniel Stearns of Palm Bay for murder after human remains were discovered in a densely wooded area of Palm Bay. The remains are believed to be those of 44-year-old Nancy Howery, who was reported missing from Indian Harbour Beach on February 18.

Stearns was taken into custody Friday afternoon after an arrest warrant was signed by the Honorable Judge Steve Henderson charging him with Second Degree Murder, Tampering with Evidence, and Mutilation of a Dead Body. He is currently being held at the Brevard County Jail Complex on a No Bond status.

“The investigation began after Howery was reported missing to the Indian Harbour Beach Police Department,” said Brevard County Sheriff’s office spokesman Tod Goodyear.

“Detectives with that agency began investigating the case, and after uncovering evidence that Howery may have been a victim of foul play and the incident occurred outside their jurisdictional boundary, they contacted the Sheriff’s Office, who assumed the investigation.”

Goodyear said as the investigation continued, Stearns was identified as a suspect in the disappearance. Surveillance was conducted on Stearns by members of the GAMEOVER Task Force and the Sheriff’s Office Fugitive and Aviation Units.

“During the early morning hours of March 9, 2023, Stearns was observed leaving his residence and traveling into an undeveloped wooded area in Palm Bay commonly referred to as ‘The Compound,’” said Goodyear.

“While in the area, Stearns was observed attempting to dispose of evidence. He was then detained by members of the Game Over Task Force.”

Sheriff’s Office Homicide agents and Crime Scene investigators responded to the area to search several areas where human remains were discovered. Further forensic testing will need to be conducted in order to positively identify the victim of the human remains located.

Goodyear said the investigation has revealed that Stearns and Howery had been in a relationship, and on February 15, 2023, the last day she was observed alive, they were involved in an argument.

“During the argument, Stearns allegedly shot Howery, which resulted in her death,” said Goodyear. “Over the next few days, Stearns allegedly dismembered and burned the body, burying the remains in several different locations.

Anyone who may have information in reference to this homicide investigation is asked to please call Agent Tyler Peterson of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit at 321-633-8400.

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