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Topie: Matthew Stegman, 18
September 5th, 2006 01:31 PM
Trace Evidence Bloodied body found in cemetery
By ABBY SIMONS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER

September 4, 2006

The shirtless, bloodied body of an Asian man was discovered lying in the middle of a Woodland Cemetery path by a couple Sunday morning.

Police believe the man was murdered inside the gates of the 158-year-old property.

The identity of the victim, estimated to be in his 20s or 30s, remains unknown. He was found face down at 9:30 a.m. in the middle of a path along the west end of the 65-acre cemetery at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Woodland Avenue in Des Moines. A couple walking in the cemetery discovered the body and initially believed the man to be hurt. Police arrived to find him dead.

Officers on the scene worked throughout Sunday to determine a cause of death, as squad cars and crime scene units rolled in and out of the cemetery. Blood evidence found near the body and on a mausoleum a few feet away indicates the man was killed inside the cemetery, Sgt. Todd Dykstra said. A weapon was not found. Police dogs also canvassed the cemetery to search for any scent the killer may have left.

Dykstra said police used a method commonly known as super-glue fuming to detect possible fingerprints or handprints on the body. A tent was placed around the victim as a heated cyanoacrylate, a chemical glue, was fumed inside, sticking to the body and revealing possible evidence.

"It's often a million-to-one shot to find any physical evidence such as fingerprints, but we'll do everything possible to find out who did this," Dykstra said.

Gerald LaBlanc, director of restoration and tours for Woodland and Glendale cemeteries, said that in his 43-year tenure of serving the cemetery in his capacity, there have been no incidents remotely similar to Sunday's discovery of the corpse. The cemetery's gates are electronically programmed to open at sunrise and close at sunset, and LaBlanc said he doubts anyone entered Woodland after hours.

"My theory is that this was not done after dark because you would have to have a Sherman tank to get through that gate," LaBlanc said. "It's a very powerful gate, and it cannot be entered from the outside, so I'm pretty sure this was done during daylight hours."

And it's not difficult to believe, LaBlanc said. Other than tours and other curious visitors, the cemetery is sparsely populated - only three people were buried there in the past year. Dense shadows from trees and more than 80,000 graves provide several places to hide, he said. More than anything, the crime is far beyond the occasional vandalism that occurs inside Woodland's gates.

The victim, who did not carry identification, is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and 125 pounds. He had black hair, a sparse mustache and goatee and was wearing black pants and black shoes. Anyone with information as to the man's identity is encouraged to contact the Des Moines Police Department at 283-4811.

"Right now we're at a pretty preliminary stage," Dykstra said. "There's just not a lot to go on right now."
September 5th, 2006 01:33 PM
Trace Evidence KCCI8
Des Moines Iowa

Police Charge Suspects In Cemetery Slaying
Four People Are Under Arrest, One Still On The Loose

September 4, 2006

Des Moines police have identified five suspects connected with a homicide in a Des Moines Cemetery.

They have charged the following people with first degree murder: Sheri Fisher, 21, Andrew Johnson, 22, Robert Johnston, 27, and Robert Myers II, 24.

At about 4:30 Monday morning, police issued a first degree murder warrant for Terry Joe Williams.

Police said Williams and the four other suspects had something to do with the death of an unidentified man found face down on Sunday morning on a brick path inside the Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.

"We do believe that the original crime happened in the cemetery and that's where he was killed," Sgt. Dykstra said.

Police originally described the victim as an Asian male, but Monday afternoon changed the description to a 5-foot-7 white man with a sparse moustache and a goatee. They said he weighs about 125 pounds. He was wearing black pants and black shoes. They said that the man was also shirtless and appeared to have a number of tattoos.

Police said they know the identity of the man, who is from Des Moines, but they declined to release the man's name.

A couple visiting the cemetery on Sunday morning at about 9:45 discovered the victim.

Police did not immediately release a suspected cause of death.
September 7th, 2006 05:39 PM
abcdef Des Moines Register
Police: Man in cemetery died of stab wounds

Des Moines police said Wednesday that a man found murdered in Woodland Cemetery this weekend died from stab wounds.

Matthew Stegman, 18, was discovered murdered Sunday morning by a couple walking in the cemetery. He appeared to have been beaten with a blunt object in addition to "sharp-edged injuries," police said. Five people were charged with first-degree murder in the teen's death. A full autopsy report was not available Wednesday evening.

Andrew Johnson, 22; Robert Myers, 24; Robert Johnston, 27; Terry Williams, 22; and Sheri Fisher, 22, remain in the Polk County Jail on the murder charges. Police said the suspects and victim lived together at the Jefferson Apartments, 1519 Grand Ave., near the crime scene.