Missing woman’s burned remains found in ‘Compound;’ man arrested, Brevard sheriff says

Daniel Stearns, 32, faces 2nd-degree murder charge

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A man faces charges after deputies said he shot, dismembered and burned a woman before her remains were found in “The Compound” near Palm Bay, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies announced the arrest of Daniel Stearns, 32, on Friday in the death of Nancy Howery, 44.

Investigators said Howery was reported missing from Indian Harbour Beach on Feb. 18 after she did not show up to pick up her children from school. Indian Harbor police began investigating the disappearance, but ultimately contacted the sheriff’s office to takeover the investigation when Howery’s car was found abandoned in Palm Bay, according to the police chief.

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Investigators said they determined Stearns and Howery were in a relationship and had been in an argument on Feb. 15, which was the last day she was seen alive.

On Thursday, deputies observed Stearns leaving his Palm Bay home and traveling to “The Compound” — an unfinished development straddling Palm Bay and unincorporated Brevard County — where he was caught disposing of evidence, according to a news release.

Investigators said they then found human remains, believed to be Howery, at several locations around “The Compound.”

Deputies said they believe Stearns shot Howery following the Feb. 15 argument and then dismembered and burned her body over the next several days before burying her remains in at least five locations.

The sheriff’s office said further testing will be needed to positively confirm the identity of the human remains.

Stearns is locked up in the Brevard County jail facing charges of second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and mutilation of a dead body.

“The Compound” has been the scene of several crimes, including the deadly shooting of two teens on Christmas.

Palm Bay City Council is set to address the crime at “The Compound” in a meeting set for March 30 at 6 p.m.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.