Grinnell, Iowa — Four people are now facing charges related to the death of Michael Williams, whose body was found burning last week in rural Jasper County. Law enforcement officials and the NAACP reinforced that the death of Williams, an African-American, was not related to his race as charges were announced Tuesday.
Steven Vogel, 31, of Grinnell, is charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. Three others, 55-year-old Julia Cox, 57-year-old Roy Garner, and 29-year-old Cody Johnson are each charged with abuse of a corpse and destruction of evidence among other charges. All four are in police custody.
The body of Michael Williams, 44, was found burning in a ditch near Kellogg on September 16.
Authorities announced Wednesday that Williams was killed on September 12 by Vogel. The cause of death was strangulation. Williams’ body was then wrapped in plastic and carpet and tied with rope. Authorities say Vogel, Cox, Garner, and Johnson then worked to destroy Williams’ body and cover up their crimes.
Authorities were adamant that the fact that Williams is black, and this was not a factor in his death.
Betty Andrews, President of the Iowa-Nebraska Chapter of the NAACP, joined Grinnell Police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at Tuesday’s news conference to reinforce that point.
Authorities say Williams and Vogel knew each well and socialized in the same circles. He was not randomly attacked and there is no threat to the public. Authorities would not speak to the alleged motive for the crime.
Grinnell Police Chief Dennis Reilly asked the community to embrace the Williams family however they can and keep them in their thoughts and prayers.