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Friday, May 31, 2019

Life sentence for murder of Fairfield woman

Today, May 31, 2019, in Muscatine County District Court, DOUGLAS FOSTER, 36, of Marion, Iowa was sentenced for the murder of Lea Ponce of Fairfield, Iowa.

The Hon. Stuart Werling presided over the sentencing hearing. Calling the evidence produced at trial "overwhelming," he imposed sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

"Justice was done today," said Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren. "Judge Werling was correct when he said that this case was a tragic example of the scourge of narcotics trafficking and abuse in our state. This murder was motivated by the defendant's desire to get drugs. Because he wanted to get high a young woman tragically lost her life" Ostergren continued.

This case was investigated by the Muscatine County Sheriff's Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

FOSTER's mugshot:


Friday, April 12, 2019

Marion, Iowa man found guilty of first degree murder

Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren announced today, April 12, 2019, that DOUGLAS FOSTER, 36, of Marion, Iowa was found guilty after a five-day jury trial of the offense of murder in the first degree for the death of Lea Ponce on January 8, 2019. The jury deliberated approximately two hours before returning its verdict. The Hon. Stuart Werling presided over the trial.

FOSTER will be sentenced May 31, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. He is being held in the Muscatine County Jail without bond pending sentencing. He faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

"I would like to thank the jury for their hard work on this case" said Ostergren. "This was a difficult case - they paid close attention to the complex facts in order to return their verdict. I would also like to thank the excellent investigative work done by the Muscatine County Sheriff's Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation" he added.

FOSTER's mugshot:


Friday, January 18, 2019

Fifty years in prison for attempted murder of three individuals

Today, January 18, 2019, in Muscatine County District Court JUSTIN LEE DEWITT, 38, formerly of North Liberty was sentenced after being found guilty of three counts of attempt to commit murder. The Court imposed a total prison sentence of not to exceed 50 years. The Court ordered the sentence to be served consecutively to a 35-year prison sentence he received in Johnson County. The defendant will be required to serve a total of 52.5 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

The arrest of DEWITT was the result of an investigation conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement - both divisions of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Evidence introduced at trial showed that DEWITT had been an inmate in the Muscatine County Jail after having been arrested in Johnson County, Iowa for seeking to arrange the murder of four individuals including two children. While an inmate DEWITT solicited another inmate to make arrangements to have three witnesses in his Johnson County case killed in order to prevent them from testifying. That other inmate reported the information to authorities who began an investigation.

During the investigation DEWITT spoke on two occasions with an individual whom he believed was an associate of a contract killer. The person was in fact an undercover Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement special agent. The conversations occurred over the Muscatine County Jail's video visitation system. During the recorded conversations DEWITT identified the three people he wanted to be killed, identified the residence of two of the individuals and the motor vehicle of the third, and discussed the financial arrangements for the killings. DEWITT later made a phone call to an unwitting party seeking to have a down payment made for the killings. There was no evidence that the person DEWITT contacted was aware of the actual purpose for the payment of money which DEWITT sought. DEWITT also mailed the undercover agent a diagram of the residence of two of the individual he sought to have killed.


"The sentence imposed by the Court today truly was justice," said Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren. "Not only did the defendant want to kill three individuals he did so to interfere with the functioning of the criminal justice system. We go to court to settle our disputes peacefully - the fact that the offender sought to kill witnesses against him made this case particularly serious," Ostergren added. 

DEWITT's mugshot:


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Murder charge filed in death of Fairfield woman

Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren announced today (January 15, 2019) that a murder charge has been filed against DOUGLAS JOSEPH FOSTER, 35, of Marion, Iowa for the death of Lea Ponce of Fairfield, Iowa.

A copy of the criminal complaint may be found here.

FOSTER will make an initial appearance before a judge tomorrow (January 16, 2019) at 9:00 a.m. the Muscatine County Courthouse.

FOSTER’s mugshot:


The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed to be innocent.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Material witness arrested in death investigation

Today, January 11, 2019, Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren announced that a material witness had been arrested in the investigation of the death of Lea Ponce. Ponce was found deceased on the shoulder of Highway 38 between Muscatine and Wilton in the early morning hours of January 8, 2019.

Upon the discovery of Ponce's remains the Muscatine County Sheriff's Office immediately commenced an investigation. They have been aided in the investigation by the Iowa State Patrol, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Muscatine Police Department, the Muscatine County Drug Task Force, the Coralville Police Department, the Iowa City Police Department, the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Marion Police Department, and the Muscatine County Attorney's Office.

During the evening hours of January 10, 2019, investigators arrested DOUGLAS JOSEPH FOSTER, 35, of Marion, Iowa as a material witness to the killing of Ponce.

Under Iowa law a peace officer may take a material witness to a crime into custody when there is probable cause to believe the witness would not be available for the service of a subpoena to appear at a subsequent hearing or trial.

A copy of the complaint charging FOSTER as a material witness is available here.

FOSTER is being held in the Muscatine County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond. His mugshot:



The allegation that an individual is a material witness is not an allegation that the individual has committed a crime. As with any allegation made by a law enforcement officer or prosecutor, a person alleged to be a material witness has the right to a determination of the allegation's merit in a court proceeding.


Davenport juvenile charged in kidnapping

Today, January 11, 2019, Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren announced that criminal charges had been filed in connection with an incident from the early morning hours of January 9, 2019, in rural Muscatine County. The charges are the result of an investigation by the Muscatine County Sheriff's Office.

TARYN DEION MOORE, 17, of Davenport was arrested yesterday, January 10, 2019. He has been charged with kidnapping in the first degree and robbery in the first degree. The kidnapping charge is a class "A" felony punishable by life imprisonment. The robbery charge is a class "B" felony punishable by a prison term of not to exceed 25 years.

The criminal complaints are available here and here.

MOORE was seen by a judge this morning. He is being held in the Muscatine County Jail on a $750,000 cash-only bond.

The MCSO seeks to arrest two additional individuals in connection with this incident.

MOORE's mugshot:



A criminal charge is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed to be innocent.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Guilty plea in cemetery thefts

Today, December 12, 2018, in Muscatine County District Court THOMAS EDGAR THORNBURG, 44, of Muscatine, pleaded guilty to theft in the first degree, theft in the second degree, and theft in the fourth degree. Investigation by the Muscatine Police Department showed that THORNBURG stole brass memorial vases from numerous area cemeteries, passed checks on a closed account, and pawned stolen merchandise. He will be sentenced February 8, 2019, at 9:45 a.m.

THORNBURG's mugshot:



In another case, LUCAS LEE WETZEL, 23, of Muscatine, pleaded guilty to two counts of delivery of methamphetamine. During an investigation by the Muscatine County Drug Task Force WETZEL made two deliveries of methamphetamine to a confidential source. WETZEL proceeded to immediate sentencing and received a total sentence of a term not to exceed 35 years.

WETZEL's mugshot: