The next day, Feb. 19, officials with the Sheriff’s Office said Howery’s Honda Odyssey was found abandoned on the side of the road, and a bloodhound team searched the area but was unsuccessful in finding the missing woman.
Upon further investigation, the Sheriff’s Office said they learned Howery was last seen on Feb. 15 visiting a friend in Palm Bay. The friend reportedly told investigators Howery was supposed to meet her boyfriend, Daniel Stearns, that day as well. Howery allegedly met Stearns on a social media site.
The Sheriff’s Office worked with the Indian Harbour Police Department, as well as the Palm Bay Police Department, and their investigation led them to an area in Palm Bay known as "The Compound."
According to the Sheriff’s Office, investigators followed Stearns there and determined he was carrying a body that appeared to be burned.
During interviews, the Sheriff’s Office said Stearns showed signs of "deception" and became a prime suspect. He eventually confessed to killing Howery, burning her remains, and trying to bury the body.
Investigators reportedly recovered multiple firearms from Stearns’ home, and although they haven’t positively identified the victim, they believe the body to be Howery based on Stearns’ confession and the evidence.
On Thursday, March 9, Stearns was booked into the Brevard County Jail for second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a dead human body. He remains held without bond.