CHRIS BAGLEY

Third man indicted in Chris Bagley murder arrested

Drew Wagner also faces-first-degree murder charge, according to indictment

Drew Wagner
Drew Wagner
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Update: Drew Michael Wagner turned himself in late Friday to the Linn County Jail, authorities said. He was wanted on an arrest warrant on charges of first-degree murder, preventing apprehension and abuse of a corpse in the killing last year of Chris Bagley. Earlier story:

CEDAR RAPIDS — Due to a court mistake Friday, it was revealed that a third man has been indicted by a grand jury in the fatal stabbing of Chris Bagley, who was buried Dec. 14 in a yard of house on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids.

Prosecutors wouldn’t confirm Friday that Drew Wagner of Cedar Rapids was indicted on a count of first-degree murder, along with Drew Blahnik, 32, of Cedar Rapids. But court documents reveal Wagner also will be charged in the killing once arrested.

The grand jury process is confidential and prosecutors can't make indictments public until defendants are arrested. Wagner hasn't been arrested, officials said.

Blahnik, already in federal custody on firearms and drug counts, was formally charged Friday during an initial court hearing. He was charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution, an aggravated misdemeanor.

The indictment shows Wagner will face the same charges.

The court document reveals few new details of the fatal stabbing, which was first described in April during a federal court hearing. The record states Blahnik and Wagner “deliberately and with premeditation, actively participated in killing Christopher Bagley, with malice aforethought” on Dec. 14, 2018, at 7100 Mount Vernon Road SE, lot #26.

Paul Hoff, 40, of Cedar Rapids, also convicted in federal court of drug and firearms charges, was arrested Thursday in connection with the killing and will be charged with abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution. Bagley was killed at Hoff’s mobile home.

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The indictment shows between Dec. 14 and 21, the men “destroyed, altered or concealed physical evidence with the intent to prevent apprehension or obstruct the prosecution of another.”

The three are accused of hiding or burying a corpse with the intent to conceal a crime.

Sixth Judicial District Associate District Judge Nicholas Scott set a $1 million cash-only bail for Blahnik.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden convened a grand jury to determine if charges should be bought in the case. The jury indicted the three after hearing testimony Monday through Wednesday.

Vander Sanden wouldn’t explain why it was necessary to bring in a grand jury, which is an unusual practice in Linn County, but he did say there was an “assertion of self-defense” so he felt it best to have a grand jury review the evidence.

Chris Bagley’s father, Stewart Bagley, said Friday that “it was the biggest shock ever that (Wagner’s) indictment was announced today. This will make some family members happy. My oldest son was upset that he wasn’t in custody or charged. This was a long time coming. When it’s your kid, you want everything to happen now, but (the court system) doesn’t work that way.”

Heather Hotchkiss, Stewart’s sister, also attended Blahnik’s hearing, wearing a “Justice for Chris Bagley” T-shirt.

“We are happy but still sad Chris isn’t here,” she said. “They took a life when it wasn’t necessary.”

Hotchkiss said her nephew’s death and his drug involvement has inspired her to talk to different groups about the dangers of drugs and how they can lead to tragic ends.

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Several individuals connected to Bagley, 31, of Walker, through drug activities were charged or convicted of drug and firearms violations. But none until now had been charged in his death.

Bagley, a husband and father of two, left home Dec. 13, 2018, with a woman his wife didn’t know. He never returned.

In April, a federal detention hearing was held for Andrew Shaw, 31, of Cedar Rapids, who authorities say supplied drugs to Bagley, Blahnik, Wagner and Hoff. Testimony in that hearing described how Bagley was stabbed Dec. 14.

Former FBI Special Agent Michael Kitsmiller, now the Marion police chief, said Bagley was stabbed during a fight over robberies he committed against Shaw.

Kitsmiller said Wagner told investigators he had Bagley pinned against the wall and that Blahnik stabbed Bagley.

Wagner and Blahnik buried Bagley in the yard where Wagner was living, Kitsmiller said.

Shaw since has been convicted in federal court of firearms violations and marijuana trafficking charges.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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