Garland Joseph Nelson, 25, Braymer, MO, now faces two counts of first degree murder in the July disappearance of Nicholas Diemel, 34, and Justin Diemel, 24, partners in a Wisconsin cattle operation. Nelson was also charged with two counts of abandonment of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, unlawful possession of a firearm and armed criminal action. According to court documents, the Diemel brothers traveled to Braymer for a $250,000 check from Nelson for cattle in Nelson's care.
Caldwell County, MO, Sheriff Jerry Galloway announced the charges at a news conference Wednesday morning (Oct. 23) at the courthouse in Kingston. The case will be prosecuted by Caldwell County District Attorney Brady Kopek. Officials called the case complex, and said it involved multiple agencies, including the FBI. Sheriff Galloway declined to answer questions from reporters.
Garland Joseph Nelson
The Diemel brothers went missing July 21, and Nelson was arrested on July 26 for tampering with a rental vehicle after authorities said he drove a truck the brothers rented from his farm to a commuter parking lot, where it was found abandoned. Nelson pleaded not guilty to those charges at a hearing Oct. 7. He has been held without bail since his arrest.
The Diemel brothers operated Diemel Livestock, Navarino, Wisc., and they had business dealings with cattlemen in multiple states.
Authorities said in an affidavit they believed Nick and Justin Diemel never left Nelson's property and were intentionally killed.
Court documents state Nelson eventually told authorities when he arrived back at the farm, he found two bodies believed to belong to Nick and Justin Diemel, each dead and stuffed inside of a 55 gallon metal barrel in a pole barn just south of the residence.
The affidavit states the bodies were moved through a pasture one at a time in a skid loader bucket to an adjacent pasture where they were covered with diesel fuel and burned. After they were burned, Nelson said one or both of the bodies were placed in a manure pile by a metal barn. He said a skid loader was used to crush the barrels and the remains were placed elsewhere on the property.
Documents show Nelson said he returned to the pole barn at one point and used a shovel to remove what he believed to be blood from the floor where it is believed the brothers were killed.
During the course of the investigation, Nelson reportedly admitted to having access to and using a 30-30 caliber rifle to kill two small animals on July 20. Authorities noted Nelson is a felon.
In the area of the affidavit relating to evidence, authorities state burned human remains were found in a manure pile on the property in Braymer, and based on DNA comparisons, it is believed the remains are those of Nick and Justin Diemel.
Authorities also noted blood stains were found on clothing belonging to Garland Nelson. DNA confirmed that blood belonged to Nick Diemel.
The affidavit states two crushed barrels were also located on the Braymer property, and a neighbor reported hearing multiple gunshots coming from the area of the property around the time Nelson told authorities the brothers were on the property. Authorities also said a 30-30 caliber cartridge was located in the bloodstained clothing reportedly belonging to Nelson.
Nelson has a previous conviction for selling cattle that didn’t belong to him. According to a Department of Justice new release in 2016, Nelson was sentenced in federal court to two years in federal prison without parole “for a cattle fraud scheme that resulted in losses of more than $262,000 to his victims.”
Nelson reported to the Bureau of Prisons on Nov. 21, 2016, to begin serving that sentence.
In August of this year, after Nelson had been arrested in connection with the Diemel case, he was charged in Bourbon County, Kan., with five counts of transporting diseased animals across state lines and endangering the food supply. The charges stem from alleged violations on May 1, more than two months before the Diemel brothers came to Caldwell County, MO., to visit Nelson’s farm.
Read more about the Diemel brothers case here: