Cold case arrest: Man charged in 2004 Missouri killing

Posted at 11:34 AM, January 12, 2023 and last updated 1:03 PM, June 14, 2023

ST. ANN, Mo. (AP) — A man has been charged with murder and jailed in a case that baffled police for nearly two decades — the death of a woman whose decapitated torso was found at a Missouri rest stop along Interstate 70.

Mike A. Clardy, 63, of Maryland Heights, Missouri, was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse in the killing of Deanna Denise Howland. His bail was set at $1 million.

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Police say DNA evidence connected Clardy to the crime, and they say he confessed after his arrest, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The remains found on June 26, 2004, down a hill near a picnic area at a rest stop in Warren County were not identified for 12 years. In 2016, DNA samples determined that the victim was Howland, of Alton, Illinois.

DNA evidence also helped find the suspect. Police matched Clardy’s DNA to DNA fragments left on Howland’s body and a knife found in a sewer near the rest stop, according to charging documents.

Officers who interviewed Clardy on Tuesday say he admitted killing Howland at his home before dismembering her and abandoning parts of her body in St. Louis County and Warren County. Clardy has no criminal record in Missouri, according to online court records.

Howland was a 35-year-old mother of four who struggled with drug addiction, her daughter, Ashley Kinnear, told the Post-Dispatch in 2016.