biographical data

Michael Williams biography: 13 things about Grinnell, Iowa man Steven Vogel burned

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Michael Ronnell “Mike” Williams Sr., was an African-American man originally from Syracuse, New York, United States. He spent the final years of his life in Grinnell, Iowa, USA.

“He was such a good man,” Williams’ friend Missy Watkins said of him in an interview with KCCI. His former wife Janalee Boldt also told the publication, “My daughter will not let me outside in the dark by myself because she’s afraid of losing another parent.”

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

Williams’ aunt Paula Terrell described him as “a very trusting soul” who “always looked for the best in everyone” in an interview with the Des Moines Register. His former wife Sharta Williams told the publication that he was a funny and silly guy who could strike up a conversation with anyone.

In light of the Williams’ death, Grinnell College canceled classes on September 21, 2020. Here are 13 more facts about him:

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  1. He is the son of James Williams Sr. and Powell Mejias.
  2. As a child, he was diagnosed with a learning disability.
  3. He has five siblings including James Williams Jr.
  4. His favorite color was purple.
  5. He wanted to go back to school, get his General Educational Diploma (GED) and start a career as a nurse.
  6. He has seven children, five of which were with Boldt including Michael Williams Jr., Jameka Williams and Danté Williams. The youngest three were born in 2003, 2007 and 2008.
  7. From Syracuse, he moved to Nebraska in 1996.
  8. From Nebraska, he moved to Grinnell in 2008.
  9. He took care of Boldt in 2011 when she was disabled for three months while losing weight.
  10. In Grinnell, he worked at fast-food restaurants. In 2020, he was unemployed due to his worsening diabetes. He was trying to pay off some debts so he could visit his family in Syracuse and help care for his aging mother there.
  11. He has one granddaughter born in April 2020.
  12. He died at the age of 44. On September 12, 2020, he was strangled to death by Steven Alan Vogel. The killer hid his body in the basement of the house in Grinnell and set the corpse on fire in the 8100 block of North 67th Avenue East in Jasper County, Grinnell on September 16, 2020 with the help of his mother Julia Cox and Roy Lee Garner. After his death, his mother set up a GoFundMe page for him. Another GoFundMe page was set up by Malissa Burton on behalf of Boldt.
  13. On November 16, 2021, a jury found Vogel guilty of killing him.
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