MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (TCD) -- A 63-year-old man was charged this week nearly 20 years after an unidentified woman’s torso was found at a rest stop off the highway.
St. Louis County records indicate prosecutors charged Mike Clardy with second-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse in connection with the 2004 death of Deanna Howland. He is currently being held on $1 million cash bond.
According to a 2016 press release from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, a maintenance worker trimming brush near the I-70 rest stop discovered the remains June 28, 2004. The torso was reportedly "headless, handless, and legless." Detectives from the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis have investigated the case three times to obtain new leads and information, and it was classified as an open cold case homicide.
Lieutenant Matt Schmutz from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office took over the case in 2014. In early 2015, Schmutz worked with a detective from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois regarding a missing person case. That person had reportedly not been seen since 2004 and was "estranged from her family and friends."
Schmutz compared DNA from the torso to someone in Illinois to see if they were possibly siblings, but he needed additional samples to confirm. On March 10, 2016, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office learned the torso was positively identified as belonging to 35-year-old Deanna Howland.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports detectives found Clardy’s DNA on Howland’s body as well as a knife that had been thrown in a sewer nearby. He allegedly admitted to killing Howland at his home before dismembering her and discarding her remains in St. Louis County and Warren County.