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Maryland Heights man charged with murder in 2004 headless torso case

Mike Clardy was charged with second-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse in connection with the 2004 death of Deanna Denise Howland.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A Maryland Heights man on Wednesday was charged in a 2004 murder case where a woman's torso was found at a rest stop in Wright City, Missouri. 

Mike Anthony Clardy, 63, was charged with second-degree murder and one count of abandonment of a corpse. 

The torso of Deanna Denise Howland was found at the rest stop along westbound Interstate 70 on June 29, 2004. The torso was found headless, handless and legless by maintenance workers. A knife in a sewer was also recovered at the scene.

The case remained unsolved until 2014 when Lt. Matt Schmutz of the Warren County Sheriff's Department began looking into missing person cases. In 2015, he was in communication with the Madison County Illinois Sheriff's Office on a missing persons case. 

The case was a missing woman last seen in the spring of 2004.

DNA testing was done and in 2016 reports showed the torso belonged to Howland, 35, of Alton, Illinois. 

According to the probable cause statement, in 2019 additional DNA testing of samples from the victim's torso resumed which led to the identification of a suspect in 2022. 

A DNA sample was taken from Clardy by police and matched the DNA recovered from the victim, according to charging documents.

Credit: Warren County Sheriff's Office
This mugshot shows Mike Anthony Clardy, who's accused of killing and dismembering the body of Deanna Denise Howland in June 2004. Howland's body was found by maintenance workers at a rest stop in Wright City, Missouri.

On Jan. 10, police interviewed Clardy and he admitted to killing the victim on or about June 26, 2004, in his home in St. Louis County. He also admitted to dismembering her body. 

Clardy said he abandoned the victim's body parts in St. Louis County as well as her torso in Warren County, according to charging documents.

Clardy is behind held on $1 million bond in the Warren County Jail.

The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis scheduled a news conference for Thursday at 3 p.m., where more information about the case is expected to be released. 

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