Human remains found in search for missing WI brothers

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
A note on a memorial for Nick and Justin Diemel asks for peace for their family outside St. Lawrence Catholic Church Monday, July 29, 2019, in Navarino, Wis.

BRAYNER, Mo. - Members of a small eastern Wisconsin community are preparing for the worst following a news conference Wednesday afternoon in which investigators discovered human remains on a Missouri farm that’s been in the crosshairs of a search for two Shawano County brothers.

Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish said the remains were found Tuesday and work is underway to uncover the identity of the victim(s).

Nicholas Diemel, 34, and Justin Diemel, 24, went missing during a business trip to Missouri and haven’t been heard from since July 21 when they traveled to a farm to discuss a livestock deal.

Garland Joseph Nelson

Garland “Joey” Nelson, 25, told police that he drove the brothers’ rental truck more than 30 miles from his farm in Braymer and left it in a park-and-ride lot. Nelson is currently in custody on charges of tampering with a vehicle, a felony. Nelson previously spent time in prison in 2016 for cattle fraud.

The two own Diemel's Livestock in Navarino and traveled to Clinton and Caldwell counties in Missouri to meet with farmers. When the brothers failed to make their flight on July 21, Nick’s wife, Lisa, began to suspect something was wrong.

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Meanwhile, Nicholas' wife, Lisa Diemel, filed petitions Tuesday in Shawano County Circuit Court asking to be appointed as a special administrator to manage the brothers' business assets "until full probate administration can be commenced."

Fish provided little information on the case, only saying law enforcement was “at the mercy of the labs” in waiting for the results of DNA testing. He also declined to answer questions regarding where on the farm the remains were found or how many bodies were discovered.

The case has left residents and loved ones with even more questions.

"I don’t think we can ever make sense of what happened," said Kevin Conradt, town chairman and president of the Navarino Rangers baseball team.

People from across the country shared messages of prayers and support in the Facebook group "Prayers for Nick Diemel and Justin Diemel" over the weekend.

Nicholas and Justin Diemel

While residents were hesitant to discuss the case, the community is dedicated to supporting the Diemel families. Local organizations and churches are rallying together, organizing fundraisers and prayer services to help the community heal.

St. Lawrence Catholic Church held a prayer service over the weekend and a memorial is on display in front of the church, flooded with thoughts and prayers for the Diemel family. The church is organizing a benefit for the family in the coming weeks. Employees at the Red Rooster Cafe are organizing a fundraiser, one of many businesses lending a hand.

On Sunday, the Navarino Rangers baseball team raised $7,000 for the Diemels' benefit fund. Conradt said the money came from admission fees, a 50/50 raffle and other donations. One of the team's players also said he'd donate for every hit, pitching strikeout and win for the rest of the season.

Navarino is a close-knit community, Conradt said, and the turnout for Sunday's game shows how they can come together in a time of need. People want to do anything they can to help, he said.

"It’s just been devastating for everybody in the community," he said.

Haley BeMiller and Benits Mathew of the Green Bay Press Gazette contributed to this story.