Investigators announce criminal charges for four in Grinnell murder

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 12:34 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2020 at 8:32 PM CDT
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GRINNELL, Iowa (KWQC) - Investigators say four suspects have been arrested and are now in custody following the death of 44-year-old Michael Williams, of Grinnell.

Williams' body was found burning in a ditch in Kellogg on Wednesday, September 16. The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) ruled his death a homicide.

The DCI, Grinnell Police Department and the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP spoke during a press conference on Tuesday to provide an update on developments in the homicide investigation.

DCI Special Agent Adam DeCamp said Steven Vogel, 31, is charged with first-degree murder and one count abuse of a corpse. Vogel is being held at Marshall County Jail, where he was already incarcerated on other charges.

Julia Cox, 55, Ray Garner, 57, and Cody Johnson, 29, are charged with abuse of a corpse, destruction of evidence and accessory after the fact. Officials say all three are being held in the Poweshiek County Jail.

During the press conference, Grinnell Police Chief Dennis Reilly said the homicide was not a random act of violence.

“Those responsible for this heinous act --- they knew each other,” Chief Reilly said. “They hung out together. Mike [Michael Williams] hung out with them. Mike was a part of their circle. They’ve known each other for years.”

Also, the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP said it sees “no indication” that Williams was targeted because of his race.

“Justice is still needed in this case,” said Betty Andrews, President of Iowa-Nebraska NAACP State Conference of Branches.

DeCamp said evidence determines Williams died of strangulation on September 12, and that his body was wrapped in cloth, plastic, carpet and secured in rope and duct tape. He said Williams' body was taken to a rural Kellogg where his body was set on fire on September 16. DeCamp said the suspects' attempt to hide the evidence failed.

Investigators say they are not sure what the motive of the homicide was.

DeCamp says the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Grinnell Police Department or DCI.

You can watch the full press conference online in KCRG’s Facebook video below.

Jasper County homicide update

WATCH: Jasper County homicide investigation update The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Grinnell Police Department and Iowa-Nebraska NAACP will be providing updates on the investigation following the death of Michael Williams.

Posted by KCRG-TV9 on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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