Murder case unfolds in Florida as authorities find burnt remains in the woods

Murder case unfolds in Florida as authorities find burnt remains in the woods

A Florida man has been accused of killing his girlfriend during an argument and leaving her to die in the woods before returning days later to burn her corpse and scatter her remains.

Daniel Stearns, 32, was witnessed by police investigators in Indian Harbour Beach attempting to bury the burnt-up remains of his girlfriend, 44-year-old Nancy Howerty.

While surveilling him, investigators discovered that Stearns had actually burned the body in an effort to destroy any possible evidence, according to Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey during a news conference.

Howerty was reported missing by her ex-husband and two children on Feb. 18, three days after she failed to pick up her children from school.

Her phone records showed that she was last seen on Feb. 15 at a gun club in Palm Bay, according to Police Chief David Butler.

Howerty had reportedly been with a friend, who told investigators Howerty was supposed to meet up with her boyfriend, Stearns, the same day she went missing.

Police discovered Howerty’s car abandoned near a site known as “The Compound,” an area frequently misused for recreational activities.

Howerty’s boyfriend had made himself a suspect to police investigators early on in the case, Ivey said.

The two times he was interviewed, Stearns showed “significant areas of deception, and truly identified himself as a prime suspect in the case,” prompting authorities to place him under 24-hour surveillance.


Investigators followed him to The Compound, where they learned there were actually five different crime scenes.

During their observations, investigations watched Stearn attempt to scatter Howerty’s charred remains across several locations.

Howerty’s remains had been burned and scattered in an effort to destroy evidence, officials said.

Stearns has been charged with second-degree murder with a firearm, mutilation of a dead body and tampering with evidence in connection to the death of Howerty. He is being held without bond at the Brevard County Jail.

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