DES MOINES, Iowa (TCD) -- A 32-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse Tuesday a year after a man’s body was found burning in a ditch.
The Des Moines Register reports Steven Vogel was found guilty of killing 44-year-old Michael Williams, who police believe was held in Vogel’s basement for a few days before being taken to a ditch in Jasper County.
Vogel’s trial began Nov. 10, and prosecutors argued Vogel was angry at Williams because there was allegedly a "love triangle" between Vogel’s girlfriend and Williams, according to the Des Moines Register.
According to KCCI-TV, Iowa Department of Public Safety Special Agent Adam DeCamp said Williams and Vogel were “known acquaintances who often socialized within the same circle of friends.”
Three other Grinnell residents face charges related to Williams' killing: Julia Cox, Roy Garner, and Cody Johnson. Cox is Vogel’s mother and Garner is her boyfriend.
The Des Moines Register reports Johnson testified that Vogel hit Williams in the back of the head and then hanged him in his basement. The criminal complaint against Vogel says the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner "made a preliminary determination that the cause and manner of death was homicide, consistent with strangulation."
Vogel, Cox, Garner, and Johnson were all arrested Sept. 22. The statement says Williams was murdered on or around Sept. 12 in Grinnell. His body was "wrapped in cloth and plastic, which was secured with rope and tape" and transported to a rural area.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety said there was "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." Williams is Black and the four defendants are white.
Williams’ aunt Paula Terrell told Iowa Public Radio, "The love interest in this love triangle had been with several other people prior to alleging to be with my nephew. Those people were not murdered. Why kill Black Mike, as he was referred to by the defendant? Why did he have to kill Black Mike? It was a lynching."
According to Iowa Public Radio, Vogel will be sentenced Dec. 13 and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.