BRAYMER, Mo. — A 25-year-old man who lives at the farm that has become the focus of an investigation into the disappearance of two missing Wisconsin businessmen was charged on Friday with stealing their car.
Garland Joseph "Joey" Nelson, of Braymer, Missouri, was arrested in Caldwell County on one count of tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree.
He is being held without bond.
Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish said the investigation had turned from a missing persons investigation to a death investigation, which remains ongoing.
Nelson has not been charged in the brothers' death. It's not clear if the brothers' bodies were found.
According to court documents, Nelson admitted to driving the white F-250 truck, which Nicholas and Justin Diemel rented after arriving in the Kansas City area to check on cattle owned by their livestock company.
The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into the missing men, who were the subject of an intense search in northwest Missouri, after they didn’t board a flight home Sunday night.
The rental truck was discovered Monday in a commuter lot in Holt, Missouri.
According to a contract with Budget Rent A Car of Kansas City, Missouri, Nicholas Diemel was the only authorized driver, which made Nelson’s actions illegal.
Nelson told law enforcement Tuesday that he drove the truck from a residence in the 3300 block of Catawba Road to Clinton County, where he parked it in the commuter lot near Interstate 35 and Missouri PP.
The truck’s GPS and surveillance video confirm that the brothers drove to Nelson’s property from a hotel where they were staying, but there was no passenger in the vehicle several hours later when it was driven to Holt, according to a probable cause statement.
Nelson admitted to leaving the truck running with its lights on in the commuter lot.
According to court documents, investigators believe Nelson is “a danger to the community” and “has tried to mislead law enforcement.”
The search for the Diemel brothers continued into Friday in Caldwell and Clinton counties before authorities announced it had become a death investigation.
Investigators brought in heavy machinery and K9 officers with the Urban Search and Rescue Missouri Task Force 1 to search for Nicholas Diemel, a husband and father of four, and Justin.
"It’s very heartbreaking," Kelly Miller, who is organizing a vigil Friday evening, said.
The vigil, which is set to take place at 8 p.m. in the parking lot of the Braymer School, is to comfort the Diemel family.
"You know there’s evil all over," Miller said. "There’s so much more good than there is evil, in my personal opinion, and we have a lot of good here, so I just want people to know that there’s still a lot of good people that care."