This case didn't smell right from the jump!
44-year-old Michael Williams of Grinnell, Iowa was found dead in a ditch earlier this month and the circumstances surrounding his death just weren't believable. News reports say that at around 5.30pm last Wednesday evening, officers were alerted to a fire in a ditch near Mariposa County Park.
Responding emergency personnel identified the burning object as a human body. Examination of the scene led investigators to believe the victim died as the result of a homicide.
Investigators believe he was killed on September 12 in Grinnell and his body was then wrapped in cloth and plastic, which was secured with rope and tape, then transported to rural Kellogg on September 16, where it was set ablaze, according to the police statement.
When the story first broke, Williams family had to press the police department to rule his death a homicide. The public first believed that his murder was racially motivated however, 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 his race played a part in his murder. Now, things don't seem so to those on the outside looking in as four people, all white, have been arrested in connection to his death.
Steven Vogel (right), faces charges of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Vogel is currently at the Marshall County Jail, where he was already in custody on unrelated charges.
Also arrested were 55-year old Julia Cox, 57-year-old Roy Lee Garner, and 29-year-old Cody Johnson, all of Grinnell. Cox and Garner have been charged with one count of abuse of a corpse, destruction of evidence, and aggravated misdemeanor. Johnson was charged with abuse of a corpse and aggravated misdemeanor. All three are being held at the Poweshiek County jail.
Authorities believe that all four of the accused were acquaintances of Williams' but they do not have a motive. Williams' family describes him as a beloved father, grandfather and friend to all who knew him and can't fathom why this happened.
Janalee Boldt, Williams' ex-wife and the mother of his children says "He was a family person," she said. "His kids were always important." Boldt has organized a GoFundMe to help transport Williams' body back to New York where he can be buried with his family.
We know authorities are saying this isn't racially motivated but, it sure looks like it to us.