An Iowa man was convicted Tuesday of killing a man last year and leaving his body burning in a ditch. A jury found Steven Vogel, 32, of Grinnell, guilty of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in the death of Michael Williams, 44, whose body was found burning in a rural Jasper County ditch on Sept. 16, 2020.
Vogel is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 13.
Authorities said Williams died by strangulation on Sept. 12, 2020, and was wrapped in cloth, plastic and carpet. His body was then wrapped in duct tape before being transported to a rural area near Kellogg on Sept. 16, 2020, and set on fire, CBS affiliate KCCI-TV reported. Court documents said there was a witness that saw a truck at the scene.
Testimony during the trial indicated Vogel told witnesses he killed Williams out of jealousy over a “love triangle” involving Vogel’s girlfriend.
Williams was Black and all four suspects are White. Iowa Department of Public Safety Special Agent Adam DeCamp told KCCI-TV that it was not a random act, and there was no evidence to suggest that Williams was killed because of his race.
Three other Grinnell residents – Julia Cox, Roy Garner and Cody Johnson – were charged with destroying evidence of the killing. Garner and Cox were also accused of abusing Williams’ corpse and helping Vogel transport Williams’ body. It wasn’t clear Tuesday if the three defendants have attorneys.
During closing arguments, Vogel’s attorneys suggested the killing was not premeditated and claimed prosecutors lacked DNA to prove the killing.