The Murder of Deanna Howland

Deanna Howland

On June 28, 2004, the torso of a woman was found in a rest area in Missouri. In March 2016, she was identified as Deanna Howland, 35. Mike Anthony Clardy, 63, has been arrested for her murder and dismemberment.

The service held for Deanna Denise Howland Source: Mt Camel Register

The Discovery

On June 28, 2004, a maintenance worker was working at a rest area along Interstate 70 (westbound) at Wright City, Missouri. The worker had been trimming brush along the edge of the common area when he discovered a woman’s torso. She had no head, hands, or legs. The torso was still wearing a black bra, but no other clothing. Two scars on the torso were determined to be from a surgery. The medical examiner determined that she had been dead for several hours, but due to the condition of the remains, could not provide a definitive cause of death.

The torso was found at the bottom of a small incline near a drainage ditch. A picnic table was nearby. A knife was located in a sewer drain in the same area. Investigators found no other body parts.

The Investigation

On October 24, 2004, Roger Mauzy, Warren County, MO Corner, arranged for the burial of the unidentified remains with a simple pole post styled marker. Family held the memorial service at Pitman Funeral Home in Warrenton. Despite an exhaustive search by investigators, they could identify no further clues regarding the remains. The case grew cold.

Lt. Matt Schmutz, with the Warren County, Missouri Sheriff’s Department, renewed the investigation in 2014. He carefully combed the missing person’s reports, hoping to find a connection to the remains that they had recovered in 2004. It wasn’t until 2016 that investigators would receive a break in the victim’s case.

The Break in the Case

In 2016, Brian Barker, a former police officer of Edwardsville, IL, was being investigated for several crimes between 2014-2015. While being questioned by the Madison County, Illinois Sheriff’s Department, Barker stated he had a sister who had been reported as a missing person several years prior. He stated his sister was an alleged sex worker who had an addiction problem, and that she led a very “transient” lifestyle. This information was made a matter of record, which caused the sheriff’s departments from Madison County, IL and Warren County, MO to converse regarding the possibility of victim identification.

Deanna Denise Howland

The Missouri State Highway Patrol Lab performed DNA comparison with Brian Barker. They positively identified the victim as Deanna Denise Howland on March 22, 2016. Howland was reported to be a resident of Alton, Illinois, which is located approximately 55 miles east of where her remains were discovered. Investigators also learned that she had been a mother of four children but had relinquished them because of her personal struggles.

It would take a few more years before forensics could complete any additional analysis. Further DNA analysis was performed on DNA evidence that was discovered on the torso and the knife that had been discovered in the rest area. Those results identified Mike Anthony Clardy. He had been living in St. Ann, a northwest suburb of St. Louis, MO, at the time of Howland’s death. It is of note that St. Ann, MO is roughly halfway between Alton, IL (Howland’s last known residence) and Wright City, MO, where her remains were discovered.

The Arrest and Interview

Police arrested Mike Clardy in Maryland Heights, MO on January 10, 2023. Prosecutors have formally charged him with second-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse relating to the death of Deanna Howland. It has been reported that he allegedly confessed to murdering and dismembering Howland before scattering her remains around Madison County, IL, and Warren County, MO.

Mike Clardy

Clardy stated he had murdered Howland at his home in the 3500 block of Dixie St in St. Ann, MO on June 26, 2004, over a disagreement. He further explained that he dismembered her at his home before scattering her body parts around the greater St. Louis area and ultimately leaving her torso in the rest area at Wright City, MO.

Mike Clardy faces a 40-prison sentence if a jury finds him guilty. This case is an open and active investigation. There is no trial date set.

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