DES MOINES, Iowa – Two Des Moines men have been charged with first-degree murder for the death of a man whose remains were found near a homeless camp earlier this month.
Sgt. Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department says 46-year-old Yancy Dane Freland and 26-year-old Bryan Taylor Norris are already in custody. Freland has been in the custody of the Department of Corrections since Aug. 23rd for third-degree theft.
Norris has been in custody in the Polk County Jail since Sept. 13th, when he was shot by a Des Moines police officer who was responding to a complaint at a homeless camp. He is facing two charges of assault on a peace officer and one charge of interference with official acts related to that incident.
Police say in the days following July 26, 2019 Norris shot 23-year-old Marshal Johnson in the head. They say Freland then shot him in the torso and Norris cut his neck. The two men wrapped his body in plastic and partially buried it. Over multiple days, they also tried to burn the remains, then finally completely buried them.
"We really don’t know what prompted this. We understand there may have been a dispute, but we are not getting a whole lot of information on exactly what the catalyst was for this, but certainly nothing to provoke this type of action," Sgt. Parizek said.
The investigation for police began Oct. 8th when officers received a tip about a possible death at a homeless camp in a heavily wooded area south of SW 15th Street and MLK Parkway. The site is near the former DICO plant.
"I think that the isolation of the camp and the fact that they intentionally go and separate themselves from basically society helped conceal this crime for the time that is was concealed," Sgt. Parizek said.
Investigators located a potential crime scene and began searching and eventually found human remains. Because it was getting dark, the scene was secured overnight and the investigation continued the following day.
After a forensic examination, officials identified the remains as belonging to Johnson.
"As far as the police department is concerned, a victim is a victim. We don’t care if you live in a tent or a townhouse. You’re going to get the justice and we are going to do what we can to get it for you," Sgt. Parizek said.