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Four people are charged after the burning body of a black man is found in a ditch

Four people have been charged after the burning body of a black man was found in a ditch next to a roadside in Iowa.

The body of Michael Williams, 44, of Grinnell, Iowa, was found in a ditch near Kellogg.

Three men and a woman have been arrested in connection with his death, and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is treating the incident as murder.

One of the men arrested, Steven Vogel, is charged with first degree murder and abuse of a corpse, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

The body of Michael Williams, 44, (pictured) from Grinnell, Iowa, was found in a ditch near Kellogg

The body of Michael Williams, 44, (pictured) from Grinnell, Iowa, was found in a ditch near Kellogg

Vogel is currently in Marshall County Jail, where he has already been held on unrelated charges.

Julia Cox, 55, Roy Lee Garner, 57, and Cody Johnson, 29, all from Grinnell, were also arrested.

Cox and Garner have been charged with corpse abuse, destruction of evidence and serious felony.

Johnson was charged with a corpse abuse and a serious crime. All three are being held in Poweshiek County Jail.

A statement from the Ministry of Public Security said the victim was acquainted with Vogel and that the couple had often been socialized in the same circle of friends.

“The investigation has yielded no evidence that the acts against Michael Williams were motivated by his race, nor that his death was the result of a hate crime,” the statement read.

Suspect Steven Vogel

Suspect Steven Vogel

Julia Cox

Julia Cox

Steven Vogel, left, is currently in Marshall County Jail, where he was already in custody on unrelated charges. Also arrested was 55-year-old Julia Cox, left

At around 5:30 PM last Wednesday evening, officers were alerted to a fire in a ditch near Mariposa County Park.

Rescue personnel identified the burning object as a human body. Investigations of the scene led investigators to believe the victim had died as a result of a murder.

Investigators believe he was murdered in Grinnell on September 12 and that his body was then wrapped in cloth and plastic, secured with rope and tape, and then transported to rural Kellogg on September 16, where it set fire, according to police statement. is stung.

Roy Lee Garner

Roy Lee Garner

Cody Johnson

Cody Johnson

57-year-old Roy Lee Garner, left, and 29-year-old Cody Johnson, right, from Grinnell were among those arrested in connection with the death.

Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said that based on the evidence, she also believes there is no indication that Williams was targeted because of his race.

“Given the current climate in which racial justice is at the forefront for so many … we understand the fear that incidents like this raise,” she said.

‘If there is something, we have to identify and address it. If something isn’t there, we need to make sure we have that clarity too. Any time there is concern about the possibility of a racist act, there we are. ‘

Speak to the local broadcaster KCCI, Williams’ ex-wife and the mother of his five children Janalee Boldt described him as a “family person” whose children were “always important.”

“My daughter doesn’t let me out in the dark alone because she’s afraid of losing another parent,” Mrs. Boldt said.

Grinnell College canceled its classes on Tuesday in response to the death of a member of the community.

“ This grim and brutal murder in the national context of racial injustice has raised an intense fear for the safety of our colleagues, friends and families of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), ” wrote Anne Harris, the chair of the college. .