By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

KELLOGG, Iowa (AP) - Police in Iowa have arrested four people in the death of a man whose body was found burning last week in rural central Iowa ditch.

Steven Vogel, 31, of Grinnell, was arrested Tuesday morning in the death of 44-year-old Michael Williams, of Grinnell, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

Williams’ body was found ablaze in a ditch near Kellogg after authorities were called around 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16 about the fire. Investigators said Tuesday that they believe Vogel strangled Williams on Sept. 12. Willliams’ body was then wrapped and bound and dumped in the ditch on Sept. 16, where it was set ablaze, police said.

Vogel has been charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse.

Others arrested were Julia Cox, 55, Roy Lee Garner, 57, and Cody Johnson, 29, all of Grinnell. They’re each charged with abuse of a corpse, destruction of evidence and accessory after the fact.

Police acknowledged that the killing of Williams, who is Black, had led to fears in the community that he may have been targeted because of his race. Grinnell College even canceled classes Monday based on that fear. But police said Williams and Vogel were well acquainted.

“The investigation has revealed no evidence to show the acts against Michael Williams were motivated by his race nor that his death was the result of a hate crime,” the release said.

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