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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Michael Williams of Grinnell is the person found killed in Jasper County, police report


Grinnell resident Michael Williams, 44, has been identified as the man whose body was discovered charred in a Kellogg ditch on Wednesday afternoon after Jasper County authorities responded to reports of a fire in the area. Police are investigating Williams’ death as a homicide, but have not released further details on the case.

According to Williams’ Facebook page, he was originally from Syracuse, New York, where many of his family members still live. He turned 44 on Sept. 10, 2020, nine days ago. His mother wrote in the introduction to a GoFundMe for funeral expenses (linked below), “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!”

College President Anne Harris sent an all-campus email Saturday morning informing students that Campus Safety would be providing rides around Grinnell to students in the wake of the news. As of yet, the College has made no further comment on Williams’ death.

People wishing to support the Williams family during this time can donate towards his funeral expenses here and here.

The death of Williams, a Black man from Grinnell – a city reported as 2 percent Black and 91.9 percent white in the 2010 census – comes at the close of a summer of highly publicized violence against Black Americans. Local police have not released any information regarding whether Williams’ killing is being investigated as a hate crime.

The S&B has reached out to the Grinnell Police Department for comment on this article, but has not yet received a response.

Update, September 20, 10:46 a.m.: Harris sent out a second email to the College community on Saturday evening saying that she and Grinnell Police Chief Dennis Reilly, Mayor Dan Agnew, and Rev. Wendy Abrahamson of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church had met with the mother of Williams’ children. Attached to the email was a statement from Reilly, in which the police chief stated that the GPD believes there is no continuing threat to the Grinnell community based on the ongoing investigation.

This is a developing story; further coverage is forthcoming.

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