CEDAR RAPIDS — An unsealed search warrant reveals more details of the grisly attack on Chris Bagley in 2018, as one man held him from behind, pulling him to the floor, while another man grabbed him by his hair and stabbed him multiple times in the neck and body.
The initial information of Bagley’s fatal stabbing over drug robberies became known during a federal drug hearing last year, but the March 2019 search warrant obtained by The Gazette on Monday gives a better indication as to why prosecutors asked a grand jury to review the case before charging three men last year.
Each of the three men tell different versions of the incident, including one of self-defense.
Drew Blahnik, 32, and Drew Wagner, 34, both of Cedar Rapids — described in the search warrant as holding down Bagley and stabbing him — were charged last year with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution.
Paul Hoff, 40, of Cedar Rapids, who lived in a trailer where authorities say the killing happened, is also charged with abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution. Hoff is already serving 14 years for federal firearms and drug convictions.
Bagley, 31, of Walker, a husband and father of two, left home Dec. 13, 2018, with a woman his wife didn’t know and did not return. His buried body was recovered from 4069 Soutter Ave. SE, where Wagner had been living, on March 1, 2019.
At a federal court hearing in April 2019, authorities said Bagley was killed during a fight over drug robberies from Andrew Shaw, 31, of Cedar Rapids, a convicted large-scale marijuana trafficker, who is serving up to eight years in federal prison.
Bagley, Blahnik, Wagner and Hoff sold drugs for Shaw, according to testimony.
The search warrant affidavit on Monday shows Hoff, who lived at 7100 Mount Vernon Rd., Lot 26, told Linn County Sheriff Sgt. Dave Beuter that Bagley came to his trailer Dec. 14, 2018, with two other women. The women eventually left, but Bagley stayed at the trailer.
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Hoff said Wagner called, telling him Bagley was “stalking” his house, and he wanted to know if Bagley was there. When Hoff confirmed, Wagner said he was coming over.
Wagner arrived with Blahnik — “Ponyboy” — and Wagner and Bagley got into a “heated discussion” about Bagley causing issues with a marijuana business involving Wagner and Shaw, according to the affidavit.
Wagner thought Bagley had been stealing drugs and money from different locations belonging to him or Shaw. Hoff said the argument started “calm” but escalated into a fight between Wagner and Bagley.
Blahnik was sitting on a stool watching until the physical fight ensued and then he pulled a knife from his waistband and stabbed Bagley once in his side. Wagner was behind Bagley with his arms around him and took him down on the floor of the trailer.
Blahnik tried to stab at Bagley again but cut Wagner in the hand, Hoff said. Blahnik then grabbed Bagley by his hair and stabbed him at least two more times in the neck, causing his death.
Hoff described Blahnik’s knife as a K-bar style with a saw and curved tip, according to the affidavit.
A tarp in the trailer was used to wrap up Bagley’s body, Hoff told investigators. Wagner went out and backed up his truck to the window on the back side of the trailer, and the body was taken out through window and placed in the truck bed. Hoff admitted he helped lift up the body.
Hoff said Blahnik and Wagner told him to stay behind. and they took the body to bury in Wagner’s yard, according to the affidavit.
On Feb. 23 of last year, Wagner told investigators Blahnik asked to be taken to Hoff’s trailer because Bagley owed Blahnik money.
Wagner admitted he started arguing with Bagley over drug and money robberies, which led to a fight.
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While they were “wrestling,” Wagner saw a firearm in Bagley’s waistband. Then, “out of nowhere,” Blahnik began to stab Bagley. Wagner said he was cut on his left thumb by the knife.
Wagner said he then left the trailer with Blahnik and went back to his house, and Blahnik went back to Hoff’s house alone, according to the affidavit. He first told authorities that Bagley could be buried on his property but later retracted that statement and said Bagley could be buried on Hoff’s property.
Blahnik, during an interview, said he and Wagner went to Hoff’s that night to get methamphetamine, according to the affidavit. Wagner and Bagley got into an argument, possibly over a gun that one bought from the other and owed money on. Blahnik said Wagner was trying to give Bagley a “chance out” of the dispute, but Bagley pushed him and a fight started.
Wagner then yelled “gun, gun,” as Bagley was reaching toward his back pocket, Blahnik told investigators. He “protected” Wagner and stabbed Bagley because Bagley had reached for a gun.
Federal investigators last year said Hoff told them there wasn’t a gun.
The affidavit shows investigators conducted a second search on Wagner’s house and property Feb. 28 to March 1, 2019, and located Bagley’s body buried in a shallow grave. The body was wrapped in a bedsheet and plastic.
A joint trial is set for Blahnik and Wagner on July 6, but that date likely will be reset because both men are asking the court for separate trials and want their trials moved out of Linn County.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Blahnik and Wagner face life in prison without the parole.
Hoff, if convicted, faces up to seven years. His trial is set for Aug. 17.
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