Missouri farmer Garland Nelson charged with murder in deaths of Wisconsin brothers

Paul Srubas, Green Bay Press-Gazette

KINGSTON, Mo. – A Missouri man has been charged with murder in connection to the deaths of two Wisconsin brothers this summer.

DNA evidence helped lead to murder charges brought Wednesday against Garland Joseph Nelson, 25, a farmer accused of killing and mutilating two brothers who came to collect money from him.

Court documents filed in Caldwell County, Missouri, indicate blood found on Garland Joseph Nelson's clothing belonged to Nicholas Diemel, who, along with his brother Justin, is believed to have been murdered on Nelson's property. DNA comparisons also allowed investigators to confirm that burned human remains found in a manure pile on Nelson's property were those of the brothers, court records say.

Nelson, 25, is accused of shooting Nicholas and Justin Diemel, ages 34 and 24, of Navarino, and then burning and burying their bodies to hide the crime.

Nelson faces a possible death penalty if convicted of the murder charges.

The brothers, owners of Diemel’s Livestock in Navarino, traveled to Nelson's property to collect a $250,000 check from him for cattle that were in his care, court documents say.

The men were reported missing July 21 after they missed a flight back to Wisconsin following a business trip.

Police found the Diemels' rented truck in a commuter lot in Holt, Missouri, with its keys in the ignition after the brothers' disappearance. Nelson eventually admitted to having moved it. Court documents say he also admitted to dumping the brothers' cell phones along the road as he walked home from dropping off the truck.

Nelson told investigators he received rides home from various people, none of whom is identified in the criminal complaint.

Garland Joseph Nelson

Court documents say Nelson claims he found the Diemels dead on his property when he returned home. He claims they were stuffed into 55-gallon drums but that he moved them with a skid loader to a pasture, covered them with diesel fuel and burned them, then crushed and removed the barrels.

Investigators say they found the crushed barrels. They also recovered a .30-30 rifle, a spent shell, and a shovel that Nelson said he used to cover or remove blood-stained soil.

A neighbor reported hearing gunshots coming from the property between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., roughly the time Nelson said the brothers were there, court records say. Police said a GPS reading showed the Diemels arrived on the property by 9:30 a.m., and that their truck was driven off the property more than two hours later.

In addition to the murder charges, Nelson also is charged with two counts each of armed criminal action, abandoning a corpse, tampering with evidence, and a single count of illegally possessing a firearm as a felon. In 2016, Nelson was convicted in federal court of cattle fraud and sentenced to two years in prison for scamming his victims out of more than $262,000. 

He has been held in jail In Caldwell County since he was arrested in early August and charged with tampering with the Diemels' rental vehicle. Nelson pleaded not guilty to the charge in October.

He also was charged Aug. 2, in Bourbon County, Kansas, with mistreating livestock. He also faces charges in Kansas of transporting disease-infected domestic animals across state lines and endangering their food supply.

At least some of those charges appear to be related to the Diemels and their business. A Kansas farmer, David Foster, told KCTV5 News in August that Nelson had been raising about 100 calves from the Diemel stock and that he was supposed to care for them until they were ready for sale.

However, by the time Nelson dropped them off at Foster’s, many of the calves were in poor health and badly emaciated, according to a USDA report the TV station cited.

As the case slid from a missing-persons probe to a death investigation, Nicholas Diemel's wife, Lisa Diemel, got a court order in Shawano County in August giving her permission to manage the livestock business, write checks for outstanding bills and related business.

She filed the court petition in late July and expressed the assumption that her husband and brother-in-law were dead.

Follow Paul Srubas on Twitter at @PGpaulsrubas.

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This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Diemel brothers murders: Garland Joseph Nelson of Missouri charged