Autopsy results of body family members say is Christopher Bagley expected this week

Sheriff official says removing body from frozen ground was 'painstaking process'

Investigators, including the state medical examiner, work the scene in the 4000 block of Soutter Avenue SE in Cedar Rapi
Investigators, including the state medical examiner, work the scene in the 4000 block of Soutter Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Authorities expect preliminary autopsy results this week of the body found buried last Friday in a yard in southeast Cedar Rapids who family members say is Christopher Bagley.

Linn County Sheriff Col. John Stuelke said Monday officials are awaiting autopsy results from the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny. He said no suspect has been charged and the investigation continues.

Sheriff Brian Gardner on Friday said no positive identification had been made, but Bagley’s father, Stewart Bagley, told The Gazette the body is his 31-year-old son who was missing since Dec. 14.

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CEDAR RAPIDS - A missing Walker man's body was found buried in a yard in southeast Cedar Rapids on Friday, his family said.

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Stuelke, also the chief deputy, wouldn’t go into many details about removing the body from the frozen ground last week but did say it was a “painstaking process.”

“It’s just not a matter of digging, but you have to be careful about preserving the scene for any evidence,” Stuelke said.

The ground had to be warmed and then deputies and others had to shovel through 12 to 18 inches of frost before reaching soil, Stuelke said. He wouldn’t say how deep the body was buried or what was used to warm the ground — such as “ground thawing blankets” like a contractor or plumber might use — because those details might impede the ongoing investigation. He said they mostly used hand tools like shovels and pickaxes.

A blue tent was set up, on the east side of the garage of a house in the 4000 block of Soutter Avenue SE so news media at the scene couldn’t see the process, which started on Thursday. There was a skid loader and other excavation equipment on site but Stuelke wouldn’t say how or if those were used.

Stuelke said officials didn’t work overnight Thursday but started again on Friday and found the body about midafternoon. Authorities didn’t know the exact location but had an idea of where to look, he said.

He declined to say how officials learned about the location or how the property is connected to Bagley.

Sheriff’s investigators said on Friday that they worked with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in gathering information that led to finding the body.

Bagley, who left his Walker home late in the evening on Dec. 13, told his wife he’d be back shortly and left with someone she didn’t know, leaving behind his wallet and truck, the sheriff’s office said in a Dec. 28 news release.

Bagley, a father of two, was seen early the morning of Dec. 14 in the Cedar Rapids area but had not been seen or heard from since.

Shortly after he went missing, Bagley’s family offered a $25,000 reward to find him.

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