A Nebraska rancher who purchased a used stock trailer in Missouri made a grisly discovery upon returning home.
Human remains and some personal items were contained in a tub of dirt inside the trailer, Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer said.
Kramer said the rancher had begun spreading the dirt on his driveway late Friday morning when he discovered the remains.
The rancher called the Sheriff’s Office.
Kramer said his deputies found evidence in the dirt that led them to a possible identification of the remains. Using a name on a charred debit card, his office searched Facebook and realized that the remains most likely belonged to one or both of two cattle buyers who went missing in Missouri.
Investigators from the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri and the Missouri State Patrol flew to Lincoln County on Friday evening to retrieve the remains.
Brothers Nick Diemel, 35, and Justin Diemel, 24, who operate a cattle business in Shawano County, Wisconsin, were last heard from July 21, after they had traveled to Missouri to resolve a dispute with a man who had a cattle deal with them.
Garland Nelson, 25, of Braymer, Missouri, has been charged with first-degree murder in their deaths. The charges carry a possible sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty. Nelson is being held without bail. Braymer is about 70 miles northeast of Kansas City.
Nelson has a criminal history.
In 2016, he was sentenced to two years in prison for cattle fraud after selling more than 600 head of cattle that did not belong to him, causing more than $262,000 in losses. He was released from prison in March 2018.
In 2015, he pleaded guilty to passing bad checks, a misdemeanor.
Nelson was raising cattle from the Diemels and reportedly owed them $250,000.
Court documents say Nelson shot the brothers, then put their bodies in barrels that he hauled to a pasture to burn. He said he dumped what was left of the remains on a manure pile.
Kramer said the Nebraska rancher who purchased the stock trailer did not buy it from Nelson. It’s not clear how the remains got from the manure pile into the tub in the stock truck.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.