A Missouri cattle farmer has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two missing brothers from Wisconsin.
Court documents filed Wednesday in Caldwell County, Missouri show 25-year-old Garland Nelson of Braymer is also charged with two counts of abandonment of a corpse, evidence tampering and other counts.
Brothers Nick Diemel, 35, and Justin Diemel, 24, of Shawano County, Wisconsin, were reported missing July 21 . They had been visiting Nelson’s farm in northwestern Missouri while on a trip related to their cattle business.
Human remains were found on the farm, but had not been publicly identified.
Nelson was charged in July with tampering with a vehicle rented by the brothers. Authorities say he abandoned the truck at a commuter parking lot.
Nelson was involved in a business arrangement with another farmer that included calves owned by the brothers, people involved with the deal told the Kansas City Star in August.
Kansas dairy farmer David Foster told the newspaper that he purchased 131 calves from Nelson in November. Nelson was to raise the calves and the farmers would split the cost after the animals were sold. Foster said 100 of the calves belonged to the Diemel brothers.
Nelson’s mother, Tomme Feil, said the calves became ill shortly after arriving at the farm. She blamed the illnesses on a bad winter and weakened immune systems. She said many died even though they followed the advice of veterinarians and gave the cattle medications and feed.
Feil said her son returned the remaining calves when Foster’s bank claimed them as collateral.
Foster said only 35 calves were returned to him and that Nelson owed him more than $151,000, though Feil disputed the amount. She said several people owe her son money and that he planned to pay Foster back when others paid their debts to him.
Nelson was sentenced in 2016 to two years in prison for selling more than 600 head of cattle that did not belong to him. Nelson pleaded guilty to cattle fraud that caused more than $262,000 in losses. He was released from prison in March 2018. He also pleaded guilty in August 2015 to two misdemeanor counts of passing bad checks.
Nelson also faces charges in Kansas of endangering the food supply. Prosecutors there said Nelson didn’t have proper health papers in May when he took 35 calves from his family’s farm to a farm in Fort Scott, Kansas.
Caldwell County Sheriff Jerry Galloway told reporters Wednesday morning that the investigation into the disappearance of the Diemel brothers was extremely challenging.
The charges carry a possible sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty. Garland is jailed without bond.
Galloway says multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the months-long investigation, including the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service.