Lynching possible in death, burning of Grinnell man

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A hate crime has not been ruled out in the death of Michael Williams, 44, of Grinnell, whose burned body was found about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday north of Kellogg in the 8100 block of North 67th Avenue East.

GRINNELL, Iowa — Law enforcement authorities investigating the homicide of Michael Williams, 44, of Grinnell have not ruled out the possibility the death was the result of a hate crime.

Williams’ body was found burned Sept. 16 in a rural Jasper County ditch north of Kellogg, some 15 miles west of his Poweshiek County home.

The Iowa Division of Crimnal Investigation (DCI) is treating the death as a homicide.

Eva Hill, a reporter with the Grinnell College Scarlet and Black, said the 2010 U.S. Census showed the Grinnell population of 9,218 was 2% African-American and 91.9% white. Hill noted Williams’ death “comes at the close of a summer of highly publicized violence against Black Americans.”

Williams has roots in Syracuse, N.Y., and much of his family lives there. Powell Mejias of Syracuse has organized a GoFundMe page for help with returning Williams’ body to New York for burial. A statement from Williams’ mother is included on the GoFundMe page:

Hello Everyone, On September 11th or 12th my son, Michael Williams, 44, was brutally murdered in Grinnell, Iowa. As if taking his life was not bad enough, on September 16th the perpetrators of this crime moved his body to Jasper County, dumped him on the side of the road, then set his body on fire. Our family is thankful for the concerned citizen that noticed the fire and called 911. We are thankful that authorities were able to make positive identification. Please help me bring my son home to his birthplace, Syracuse, New York for a proper Homegoing Services and burial. Mike was a big man! He was a loving man, that loved his children and extended family. Michael was the life of the party and loved to dance. He did not deserve to be treated like this! He was our Gentle Giant! I would appreciate any assistance you can provide to help me bring my son home. Funds raised above and beyond my goal will be used for travel to Iowa and lodging during the criminal proceedings for #JusticeForMichaelWilliams. I thank you in advance for your donations and sharing my story. Thank you! #BringMichaelHome #JusticeForMichaelWilliams #OurGentleGiant

Janalee Boldt of Grinnell, the mother of Williams’ children, has also established a GoFundMe page with the assistance of Malissa Burton. The statement on the GoFundMe page reads:

**I want to start off with how devastating this story is for the family we are all grieving, and how unreal and how sadistic the murdering scumbags are!!!**

As most of you know Mike (aka big mike or michael) was the body identified as the body found in a fire in kellogg iowa Wednesday evening!! The case as the news media has stated is ongoing so until they release the names of suspects i will with hold the information on here until its updated, once it’s released i will add more….the police and DCI are not releasing any info yet!!! IF ANYONE HAS ANY INFORMATION TO THIS CASE PLEASE CONTACT THE DCI OR GRINNELL POLICE DEPARTMENT or any other departments that are involved, We are still waiting on autopsy report of cause of death,
THIS MAN DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE!!! He was a father a grandfather and a friend and a brother and a son! It breaks my heart knowing stuff and not being able to explain more but im here ASKING for help for his family!! He was taken away from his children the 3 youngest are 17, 13 and 12!!! We (the family and friends) are asking for help to raise money for the family to pay for all the expenses to come and any travel expenses That also includes to and from court since this is a murder investigation, the children are devastated about losing their father!!! I will update this more once we have more information!

you may reach out to me or janalee (Mother of Mike’s children)
please anything will help since its going to be expensive

Boldt also posted a request for help with funeral transportation expenses Saturday on Facebook:

Please pray for my kids, for all of his kids, and pray for his family. Please donate if you can and you can also order a shirt to honor him that my son Michael had designed it for his dad. We need money raised so all of his kids can attend their dad’s funeral in New York where most of his family is at. All of his kids deserve closure and to say goodbye. We would like to help if we can for the cost of the funeral. This isn’t easy at all for any of his kids and for his family on how his life had ended. Any help would be appreciated. Please.

Assisting the DCI in the investigation are the Jasper County Sheriff’s office, Grinnell Police Department, Poweshiek County Sheriff’s office, Marshall County Sheriff’s office and Iowa State Patrol.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Grinnell Police Department at 641-623-5679 or the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office at 641-792-5912.

6 COMMENTS

  1. So much sadness. What a terrible time we are living in! Yes we certainly do need to look at and try to save the soul of our country. I’m 81 and I couldn’t have imagined anything like the amount of hate and nastiness we are having to live with! I had hoped for our children and grandchildren better role models in this nation before I die. So very sad! I grew up in nearby Poweshiek County during the 1940s and 1950s. It wasn’t like this in those times.

  2. No matter how educated we become we still can’t find the love to co-exist with each other. Mankind is the destroyer of mankind. We are the only species capable of doing this. I know God must not be looking at us favorably. There is no way they can truthfully say this was a suicide. Please publish the information on donating and possibly buying a Tee Shirt.

  3. I would hope and pray that lives would be changed with positive influences. It’s such a SHAME to hear so many verbally and physically fighting – people die on all sides – we need to come together – pray for a peace. Forget selfish ways – do unto others as you would have them do to you. So very sorry for your losses and other. ❤️

  4. Mr. Williams, I’m just hearing of your son and the atrocity that he suffered. I am so so sorry for your loss and I pray that our lord and savior will continue to guide you through this difficult time in your life and my life. I say my life because every brother or sister who loses their lives from HATE, AND RACIST people who don’t know what they do when they take a life from a family, It affects us all. My prayers will pour on to you and your family as I also pray for justice for your son and for all the lives of families like yours. Sir, may God bless you and keep his loving arms around your family.

  5. UNTIL THE POLICE HAVE RELEASED A FULL REPORT PUBLICLY IT WOULD BE NICE FOR NEWS ARTICLES TO KEEP THE RUMORS JUST AS THAT A RUMOR, YOU DONT UNDERSTAND THE DEVASTATION YOU AND YOUR ARTICLE IS MAKING THE FAMILY FEEL! This article needs to be removed until the TRUTHFUL report has been made!!!!!😡😡😡 im outraged that people are trying to say THE POLICE say its possible because THAT is FALSE!!!! Im here EVERY DAY WITH ONE OF THE EXWIFES AND TWO OF THE YOUNGEST CHILDREN EVERY DAY AND YOU PUTTING THIS OUT THERE BEING SHARED ALL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA IS HURTING AND I REPEAT HURTING THIS FAMILY!!!!! Shame on you for using rumors to justify an article with no damn proof!!!!

  6. He didn’t commit suicide. I’ll never believe that. Grinnell is a little hick town. Not too many blacks live there unless they were going to college. It hurts to know this has happened in Iowa. My Mom and Dad always said that Iowa was a Jim Crow state. I do see it now. To the family my condolences. I’m from Waterloo. If I had money at this time, I would donate, bit I’m on a fixed income. But if I so happen to come up with some, I will freely give. May God bless your family. So sorry he came this far to die maybe at the hands of some racist white people. Hang in there.

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