A Missouri cattle farmer has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder after authorities say he killed two Wisconsin brothers who had traveled to Missouri on business, burned their bodies and threw the remains on a manure pile.
The murder charges against Garland Nelson, 25, were announced Wednesday, months after brothers Nick Diemel, 35, and Justin Diemel, 24, disappeared after traveling to Missouri to collect $250,000 from Nelson, local station KMBC reports.
Nelson reportedly owed the debt for some cattle in his care.
But after the brothers, who worked for their family’s cattle business, failed to make a return flight to Milwaukee and stopped answering their phones, their father reported them missing to police on July 21, ABC News reports.
Authorities believe Nelson shot the two brothers, put their bodies into 55-gallon metal barrels and burned the remains, according to a probable cause statement obtained by the news outlet.
During questioning, Nelson allegedly told authorities he put the remains on a manure pile and then hid the barrels on his Braymer property.
Authorities were later able to use DNA to confirm remains discovered on the property matched the two brothers. Blood matching Nick Diemel was also allegedly found on some of Nelson’s clothing.
After killing the brothers, investigators said Nelson drove the Diemel’s truck to a commuter lot and left it there in an attempt to mislead authorities.
"Throughout the investigation (Nelson) provided hours of interviews with investigators and gave many misleading explanations and recollections of events in attempts to mislead law enforcement in locating Nicholas and Justin Diemel," Maj. Mitchell Allen with the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said, according to the probable cause statement.
Rob Chubb, who managed the feeder cattle side of the Diemel’s Livestock LLC, told The Associated Press that he believes the brothers were lured to the farm with the promise of a check so that they could be killed—an accusation that has not been corroborated by law enforcement authorities.
According to him, the brothers had done business with Nelson in January and the pair had planned to collect on money that was still owed to them.
Chubb told the outlet he was angry the brothers were killed and “just can’t believe somebody is so selfish, so cruel.”
In addition to the first-degree murder charges, Nelson is also facing two counts of abandonment of a corpse, two counts of tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution, two counts of armed criminal action, tampering with a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Nelson already has a sorted criminal past. He was sentenced in 2016 to serve two years in prison after pleading guilty to cattle fraud, ABC News reports. In that case, he was accused of selling more than 600 head of cattle that were not his.
He is also currently facing charges in Kansas of endangering the food supply after authorities said he took 35 calves from his family’s farm to Kansas without the proper health papers.
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