WARREN COUNTY, Mo. – The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis joined other law enforcement officials to announce a big break in a murder case that’s been a mystery since 2004.

The torso of Deanna Howland was found near a rest stop in Wright City that year.

Her daughter, Ashley Kinnear, stood with law enforcement during a news conference on Thursday and thanked them for not giving up on her mother’s case.

“They’ve never stopped caring,” Kinnear said. “They never thought about it as a number or as a file.”

Mike Clardy is charged with second-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse. After being shown DNA evidence, police say the man from Maryland Heights has admitted to the crime.

Clardy is charged in St. Louis County because investigators said the crime happened at his house. He was living in St. Ann at the time.

“These investigators work hard,” said Major Randy Boden, Major Case Squad commander. “They work long hours; they work holidays, but again, it’s for the victim and for the victim’s families.”

Lt. Scott Schoenfeld represented the Warren County Sheriff’s Department during Thursday’s news conference. 

“It was one of the better moments of my career knowing that we’re going to be able to hold this person who committed this crime and who took their mother away responsible,” Schoenfeld said.

“It’s the end of a long journey,” said Roger Mauzy, former Warren County Coroner. 

The case was especially troubling for him because he was unable to identify the victim. Mauzy held a funeral service for the victim several months after the murder. 

“I am so happy that this guy is in custody,” Mauzy said. 

Investigators said they do not have any evidence to suggest Clardy is responsible for any other unsolved crimes.

Kinnear believes the determination of investigators provides comfort for other families still searching for answers in their cases. 

“Anybody that’s still waiting for an answer, have faith,” she said.