KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Braymer man connected to the disappearance of two Wisconsin brothers now faces murder charges in their deaths.
Garland Nelson, 25, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Nicholas Diemel, 34, and Justin Diemel, 24, according to court records. He also was charged with two counts of abandonment of a corpse, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, two counts of armed criminal action, and unlawful possession of a firearm.
On July 21, the two brothers drove to Nelson’s farm in the 3300 block of Southeast Catawba Road in Braymer, where Nelson operated his cattle business known as J4S Farms, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Around 11:45 a.m., more than two hours after the brothers arrived at the farm, Nelson said he drove their rental vehicle to Holt, where he left the car with the keys in the ignition at a commuter parking lot.
After abandoning the vehicle in Holt and disposing of the brothers’ cellphones along a roadway, Nelson said “he used a series of different persons who provided him transportation” and was dropped off back at his farm, according to charging documents.
An employee of Diemel's Livestock told 41 Action News that family and friends were worried about the brothers whereabouts after they were unable to reach them by phone.
"I contacted Joey to see when they had left his farm and after the conversation I had with Joey, and them not answering their phones for me or their family, I knew that Joey had done something to them, at that point I was 100 percent certain," Rob Chupp said.
Nelson told authorities that when he returned to the farm, he saw two bodies whom he believed to be Nicholas and Justin Diemel, both dead inside of two 55-gallon metal barrels in a barn south of the residence. Nelson allegedly used a skid loader to move the barrels to an adjacent pasture, where the bodies were burned using an unknown liquid and diesel fuel, according to documents.
Nelson said he then placed the bodies in a manure pile and used the skid loader to crush the barrels and dispose of them on the property, according to documents. He allegedly used a shovel to remove blood from the floor where they were killed.
The burnt human remains that were found in the manure pile are believed to be the two brothers, based on DNA comparisons. In addition, a blood stain found on Nelson’s clothing was confirmed to be from one of the brothers.
Nelson also admitted to using a rifle to kill two small animals on July 20, the day before the brothers were reported missing, according to documents. A neighbor reported hearing multiple gunshots on July 21 between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. A fired cartridge was found in Nelson’s clothing, and ammunition was found in his vehicle.
Throughout the investigation, Nelson “gave many misleading explanations and recollections of events in attempts to mislead law enforcement in locating Nicholas and Justin Diemel,” according to documents.
The two brothers were in Missouri to retrieve a $250,000 check from Nelson for cattle, according to records. Chupp said the check was to replace a bad check that Nelson had previously wrote to the brothers for livestock Nelson had sold.
"He also sold a couple of those that hadn't been paid and that's why the brothers were out there was because Joey had invited them out a couple of weeks prior to them going out to collect money and look at the cattle that were supposedly still there, so in my opinion, he premeditated the murder," Chupp said.
Ten days after they went missing, authorities said that human remains were found at the Braymer farm, but they had not been identified as the brothers until Wednesday.
Nelson was previously convicted of cattle fraud and sentenced in 2016 to two years in prison.
Caldwell County Sheriff Jerry Galloway announced the new charges against Nelson at a Wednesday morning news conference. Galloway did not answer any additional questions, including whether anyone else would face charges in connection with the brothers' deaths.