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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:


Muscatine man arrested for first degree murder (Updated)

Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren announced today (December 12, 2018) that DARIAN DREW LENSGRAF, 19, of Muscatine was arrested for the offense of murder in the first degree from an incident in the early morning hours of December 12 in the City of Muscatine.

The Muscatine County Joint Communications Center (MUSCOM) received a 911 call at 3:33 a.m. reporting that a woman had been found stabbed to death at 2109 Breese Avenue in Muscatine. Officers and Muscatine Fire Department personnel immediately responded to the scene.

At 3:49 a.m. MUSCOM received a second 911 call from a clerk at a convenience store located at 709 Grandview Avenue in Muscatine. The caller reported that there was a male subject at the store holding a bloody knife. Officers immediately responded to that scene and made contact with DARIAN LENSGRAF. According to the criminal complaint DARIAN LENSGRAF made post-Miranda statements that he took the knife to the victim's house with the intent to kill the victim.

DARIAN LENSGRAF has been taken into custody. He will make an initial appearance at the Muscatine County Courthouse at 9:00 a.m. today.

UPDATE 10:43 a.m.:

DARIAN LENSGRAF made an initial appearance this morning before the Hon. Gary Strausser. The Court set bond at $5,000,000 cash-only. The Court scheduled a preliminary hearing for December 21, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. Under Iowa law the prosecution may file a trial information before the date set for preliminary hearing and if this is done there will be no preliminary hearing.

The victim of this incident has been identified by law enforcement as Diana Lensgraf (DOB: 12/12/1952). Diana Lensgraf was Darian's grandmother.

A mugshot of the defendant from today is not yet available. This is a mugshot from a prior occasion:


Today's mugshot:



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

North Liberty man convicted of three counts of attempt to commit murder

Today, December 11, 2018, in Muscatine County District Court a jury found JUSTIN LEE DEWITT, 38, formerly of North Liberty, guilty of three counts of attempt to commit murder. The trial began yesterday, December 10, 2018. The jury deliberated for approximately 12 minutes before returning a verdict of guilty on all charges.

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.

Attempt to commit murder is a class "B" felony punishable by imprisonment for a term not to exceed 25 years. There is a mandatory minimum term of 17.5 years before parole eligibility. It will be up to the sentencing judge to determine whether the counts will be served concurrently or consecutively with each other and with the sentence DEWITT has already received in Johnson County. DEWITT was previously sentenced to a total term of not to exceed 35 years with a 17.5 year mandatory minimum for his conduct in the original case.

"I would like to thank the jury for their efforts in this case" Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren stated. "This verdict was justice served. I would also like to compliment the special agents who investigated the case. They gave me the evidence I needed to make a compelling presentation to the jury," Ostergren added.

DEWITT will be sentenced January 18, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. He will be held in the Muscatine County Jail without bond pending sentencing.

DEWITT's mugshot:


Friday, October 12, 2018

Guilty plea to firearm and drug charges

Today, October 12, 2018, in Muscatine County District Court ETHAN KIELY, 22, of Muscatine, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, trafficking a stolen firearm, and delivery of cocaine. The charges against KIELY were the result of an investigation by Street Crimes Unit detectives of the Muscatine Police Department which showed that he was in possession of a stolen handgun and cocaine. KIELY is a previously convicted felon. KIELY will be sentenced on November 30, 2018, at 9:00 a.m.

KIELY's mugshot:


In another case, JARIN DAVID GENUNG, 29, of Muscatine, pleaded guilty to possession of LSD with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and child endangerment. The charges against GENUNG were the result of an investigation by the Muscatine County Drug Task Force where a search warrant was executed at GENUNG's residence. The search revealed distribution quantities of both LSD and marijuana. There were two minor children present in the residence where the drug trafficking activity was taking place. GENUNG will be sentenced December 7, 2018, at 9:45 a.m.

GENUNG's mugshot: