US: Four arrested after police find body of African-American burning in ditch

The body was found after authorities received complaint about a fire in a ditch

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The Iowa police have found an African-American’s body burning in a ditch and arrested four people in relation to it. The body of 44-year-old Michael Williams was found last week in Kellog, Iowa.

Iowa police arrested Steven Vogel, 31 in relation to the crime and charged him with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. He is being kept at the Marshall County Jail. Also arrested were Julia Cox, 55, Roy Lee Garner, 57, and Cody Johnson, 29, and have been charged with abusing a corpse and destroying evidence. They are being kept at Poweshiek County Jail.

The body was found after 5.30pm on September 16 after the police received a report about a fire in a roadside ditch. As per the police’s investigation, Williams was killed on September 12. Girnnell College cancelled its classes on Monday as a response to Williams’ death.

Williams’ wife Janalee Boldt was quoted in a CNN report as saying her former husband was “a family person" and that "his kids were always important". The couple has five children together.

The family decided to make purple shirts with the phrase ‘Justice for Michael’ on them to commemorate their father. Purple was Williams’ favourite colour. The police have said that there is no evidence that the crime was motivated by race and as per questioning of those arrested, it has been confirmed that Vogel and Williams were acquaintances and moved in the same circle of friends. Cox is said to have confessed to helping Vogel wrap the body in a blanket, move it out of a pickup truck and throw it in a ditch. 

According to The Office of the State Medical Examiner, the cause of death was strangulation.

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