According to the court documents, the 32-year-old defendant was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2020 murder of 44-year-old man. The defendant reportedly lured the victim to his home and beat him with a blunt object. He then hanged the victim by the neck until he was dead. He kept the victim’s remains in the basement and showed off the body to friends for nearly a week. He also bragged about the murder before dumping the victim’s body in a ditch and setting it on fire.
The 32-year-old man from Iowa, Steven Vogel, was sentenced on Tuesday. The defendant reportedly hanged the 44-year-old Michael Williams and displayed his body. He then burned the victim’s body in a ditch, prosecutors said.
On Sept. 16, 2020, deputies and fire crews responded to a report about a ditch fire on N 67th Avenue. The responding crews saw that a human body was burning. The 32-year-old defendant was arrested two days later, because he reportedly planned to kill Williams.
Prosecutors said the defendant killed the victim on Sept. 12. He reportedly lured the victim to his home and beat him with a blunt object. He then hanged the victim by the neck until he was dead.
Investigators said the defendant kept the victim’s remains in the basement and showed off the body to friends for nearly a week. He also bragged about the murder before dumping the victim’s body in a ditch and setting it on fire.
The defendant’s mother and her boyfriend, Julia Cox and Roy Lee Garner, reportedly helped the defendant transport and burn the body. Both were charged with one count each of abuse of a corpse, destruction of evidence and accessory after the fact.
Officials said they found no evidence that the crime was racially motivated.
The victim’s family says otherwise. They called the murder a modern day lynching.
The victim’s aunt, Paula Terrell, reportedly said:
“It’s putting that rope around his neck and holding it for over six minutes, causing his death, is the definition of a hanging. A lynching. Yes it is a lynching. And even if the motive was about a white woman, all due respect, think of people like Emmett Till. He died for looking at a white woman. Not touching her, just looking at her. So yeah we stand firm in that we believe it’s a hate crime.”
Prosecutors argued that Vogel’s motive to kill was because of an alleged relationship between his girlfriend and Williams.