2 people who helped dispose of Iowa murder victim sentenced

KELLOGG, Iowa (AP) — Two people who helped another person dispose of the body of an Iowa murder victim have been sentenced to prison.

Julia Cox, 56, was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison and Roy Garner, 59, was sentenced to nine years for their roles in the September 2020 killing of Michael Williams, 44, of Grinnell, the Des Moines Register reported. Cox pleaded guilty in December to abuse of a corpse and accessory after the fact, while Garner pleaded guilty to those same counts and a count of destroying evidence.

Prosecutors have said Cox and Garner helped Cox’s son, 33-year-old Steven Vogel, move Williams’ body from the basement of the Grinnell home the three defendants shared. Williams body was found bound and burning in a Jasper County ditch on Sept. 16, 2020.

Vogel was convicted last year of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in Williams’ death and sentenced in December to life in prison. A fourth person, 31-year-old Cody Johnson faces trial in August on a count of accessory after the fact.

The crime initially triggered fears in Grinnell — which is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Des Moines — that the killing was racially motivated. Williams was Black, while the four defendants are white.

Police determined the motive for the killing stemmed from Vogel’s jealousy and anger over his belief that his girlfriend was romantically involved with Williams.

Johnson testified that Vogel told him he killed Williams by clubbing him in the head from behind and hanging him with a rope in the basement of Vogel’s home. Johnson told detectives he and Vogel tried to remove Williams’ body from the basement, but were unable to do so. Police believe Williams’ body remained in the basement for several days before being moved.

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