$2 million settlement reached in wrongful death lawsuit filed by Wisconsin brothers’ families

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Nick and Justin Diemel (Courtesy of Lisa Diemel)

CALDWELL COUNTY, Mo. — A $2 million settlement has been reached in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of two Wisconsin brothers murdered in Missouri.

The suit was filed against Garland Nelson, who is accused of murdering Nicholas and Justin Diemel in Caldwell County.

It also names his mother Tomme Feil and J4S Farm Enterprises Inc.

The brothers’ father reported them missing July 21, 2019, after they didn’t return from a visit to Nelson’s northwest Missouri home, where they had gone to collect a $250,000 debt, according to court records.

According to a probable cause statement, Nelson shot the brothers, put their bodies in 55-gallon barrels and allegedly burned the bodies.

Nelson told investigators he dumped the remains on a manure pile and hid the barrels on his property, about 70 miles northeast of Kansas City, Missouri.

The remains were eventually found in Missouri and Nebraska.

Picture of Garland Joseph "Joey" Nelson
Mugshot of Garland Joseph “Joey” Nelson – photo from Caldwell County

The Diemel brothers’ families filed the wrongful death lawsuit in December 2019, and the court entered a judgment in their favor Friday, awarding them $2 million in damages.

Their lawsuit claimed that shortly after Nelson was released from prison on previous charges of illegally selling cattle, Feil created J4s Farm Enterprises Inc. and allowed Nelson to continue selling cattle — even though he was on probation and wasn’t supposed to take on new debt.

Court documents alleged that Feil and the company were negligent and that they “should have known that allowing Nelson to return to the cattle business created an unreasonable risk of harm to others, including decedents.”

The suit also says “Nelson intended to kill decedents if they came to Missouri to collect the payment for the cattle” and that Feil and the company concealed Nelson’s prior conviction of cattle fraud.

The state is pursuing the death penalty against Nelson, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder along with several other charges.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story reported a different value in damages, but online court records were later updated to show just $2 million instead. The story has been updated. 

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