KINGSTON, Mo. (AP) — A man charged with tampering with a vehicle used by two Wisconsin brothers who are missing and presumed dead in Missouri was involved in a business arrangement with another farmer that included calves owned by the brothers, according to people involved in the deal.
Brothers Nick and Justin Diemel, from Shawano County, Wisconsin, disappeared July 21 while visiting northwest Missouri for a trip related to their cattle business. Authorities say the brothers are presumed dead. Human remains found on a farm owned by Garland Nelson have not been identified.
The brothers disappeared after visiting Nelson, 25, at a farm near Braymer, about 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) northeast of Kansas City. Nelson is charged with tampering with a vehicle after authorities said he drove a truck the brothers rented from his farm to a commuter parking lot, where it was found abandoned.
David Foster, a Kansas dairy farmer, told The Kansas City Star Wednesday that he bought 131 calves from Nelson in November. Nelson was to raise the calves and the farmers would split the cost after the animals were sold. One hundred of the calves belonged to the Diemel brothers, Foster said.
Nelson’s mother, Tomme Feil, said her son and the family cared for the calves. The animals became ill shortly after arriving at the farm, which Feil blamed on bad winter and weakened immune systems. She said many died despite receiving extensive medication, feed and advice from veterinarians.
“It wasn’t like we enjoyed watching calves die,” she said. “We didn’t. We were doing everything possible to keep them alive.”
Feil said her son returned the remaining calves when Foster’s bank claimed them as collateral.
Foster said only 35 calves were returned to him.
“They were starved, they were malnourished,” he said. “It was almost a complete loss.”
Foster said Nelson owes him more than $151,000. Feil agreed that Nelson owed Foster money but disputed the amount. She said several people owe her son money and he planned to pay Foster back when others paid their debts to him.
Feil said law enforcement authorities have seized paperwork relevant to her son’s business dealings. Foster declined to provide documentation of the deal with Nelson, saying law enforcement had advised him not to so as not to interfere with the investigation.
Nelson was sentenced in 2016 to two years in prison for selling more than 600 head of cattle that did not belong to him. Nelson pleaded guilty to cattle fraud that caused more than $262,000 in losses. He was released from prison in March 2018.
Nelson also pleaded guilty in August 2015 to two misdemeanor counts of passing bad checks.