Iowa man convicted of murdering Black man whose body was found burning in ditch
A jury found a white Iowa man guilty of murder for killing a 44-year old Black man named Michael Williams, and burning his body in a ditch.
Steven Vogel, 31, of Grinnell, was found guilty of two charges on Tuesday: first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. The jury cast the verdict at the Keokuk County Courthouse, the Des Moines Register reported. Vogel faces sentencing at the courthouse on Dec. 13.
Vogel was arrested on Sept. 22, just days after police found Williams’ body burning in a ditch near Mariposa Park in Jasper County. Williams’ cause of death was determined to be strangulation by the state medical examiner, and he is believed to have been killed on Sept. 12.
Police also arrested three other Grinnell residents with allegedly aiding Vogel in throwing Williams’ body into a ditch and burning it: Julia Cox, 55, Roy Lee Garner, 57, and Cody Johnson, 29.
Vogel’s motivation appeared to be out of jealousy resulting from a “love triangle” between Williams, Vogel and his girlfriend, police said.
But Williams’ family told the Des Moines Register after the trial they wanted more acknowledgment of the role race played in the murder.
During the trial, Johnson testified that Vogel clubbed Williams from behind and hung him from a rope in his basement before bringing his body to a ditch to burn it on Sept. 16. Family members said it resembled a lynching.
“”If this isn’t a lynching, then what was it?” said James Williams, the father. “This is hate.”