Friends of murdered Florida woman call for answers: 'We want justice'

Support is growing for new safety measures in an area of Palm Bay, Florida known as "The Compound," where a woman was recently found murdered.   

Nancy Howery was first reported missing last month and was later discovered burned and buried in The Compound, a large, undeveloped tract of land.  Her boyfriend, 32-year-old Daniel Stearns, was named as a suspect in the murder and is now behind bars. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said Stearns admitted to the killing and trying to destroy the body.  

Howery's friends are mourning her death and trying to come to grips with their loss.  Ana Hensiek is one of those friends. She said she spoke with Howery every day and the last time she communicated with her was on Valentine's Day, when she said she had a date.

Howery has other friends who are scattered all over the country now, but they always make it a point to stay in touch with each other. Since Howery's death, her friends started a public Facebook group to memorialize her life and see if any other women come forward who knew or dated the suspect in the past.

The murdered mother of two was always there for others, her friends said.  "She transmitted wonderful, good energy," exclaimed Yascara Tom, another friend of Howery’s. "She was a wonderful person."

Over the years, Palm Bay city leaders have expressed concerns that The Compound has become a hub for crime. They are now looking for new solutions.

"There’s no way we can police the current developed city of Palm Bay and the undeveloped area of the compound at the same time," said Palm Bay Councilman Kenny Johnson. "It’s a large task, so that’s why we’re looking to see what we can do."

One solution Johnson has is bringing in developers to buy parts of the land with the end goal to crack down on crime coming out of the compound so more lives aren’t lost. 

"That’s all we want. We want justice for Nancy," Hensiek concluded.

Stearns is being held on no bond. On March 30, there will be a public meeting at Palm Bay City Hall at 6 p.m. to discuss safety solutions for the area and what the community thinks should happen.