Authorities said a bloodstained shoe linked a Dubuque man to the brutal stabbing death of a Bellevue man in December 2016.
Drew A. Mangler, 23, of 1110 Althauser Ave., is charged in Iowa District Court for Jackson County with first-degree murder in connection to the December 2016 death of James M. Remakel, 59.
Mangler was arrested Friday in Dubuque. Online court records show Mangler's arrest warrant included a bond of $1 million.
The arrest concluded a lengthy investigation by Bellevue police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
"We're very happy to move forward toward justice for the Remakel family," Bellevue Police Chief Lynn Schwager said.
Remakel was found dead Dec. 25, 2016, though court documents released Friday suggest he died several days earlier. Police found signs of a disturbance at Remakel's home at 606 S. Riverview Drive.
"The back door of Remakel's residence had been kicked in and blood was discovered in the kitchen as well as inside Remakel's bedroom," documents state.
Remakel was found dead on his bed with several wounds. A medical examiner believed he was dead for about three or four days.
An autopsy report indicated Remakel had 33 "sharp force wounds" to his upper torso, neck and head. The report said his cause of death likely was "bleeding out."
Investigators found Remakel's broken cellphone in the kitchen, as well as a drawer full of prescription pills and cash that appeared to be in disarray, according to court documents. Investigators determined Remakel's phone last was used Dec. 19, 2016, the same day the last water usage in the house occurred.
Authorities said investigators spoke with "witnesses" who said Mangler and Remakel knew each other. Witnesses also said Mangler was with two friends who lived near Remakel on Dec. 19, 2016.
Those witnesses said Mangler disappeared for a while and returned with drugs and a "large sum of cash."
Investigators took footwear impressions from the crime scene, authorities said. A search warrant was conducted April 13 at Mangler's Dubuque home.
"During the search, a pair of shoes was found in an upstairs bedroom closet which had a similar tread pattern to the impressions developed from the Remakel crime scene," documents said.
The shoes were sent to the state crime lab, and on May 1, a bloodstain on the right shoe was found to be a DNA match to Remakel, according to documents.
Video surveillance footage from Diamond Jo Casino on Dec. 20, 2016, showed Mangler at the casino wearing shoes similar to those seized. He also was observed carrying a large sum of cash, authorities said.
Resolving a cold case
Schwager praised the dedication of his officers and DCI agents, noting 17 months is a long time for an investigation.
Rick Rahn, special agent in charge for DCI, said investigators wanted to be thorough and ensure accuracy.
"Unfortunately sometimes these investigations take a while," he said.
Family members described Remakel as a thoughtful person who kept to himself and lived simply. Raised in Bellevue, he enjoyed restoring classic cars and spending time on the river, according to his nephew, Jeff Remakel.
Jeff Remakel, of Austin, Texas, previously told the Telegraph Herald his uncle had physical disabilities and would have been defenseless against an attacker.
Jeff Remakel could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport said Friday she will work with the Iowa Attorney General's office in prosecuting the case.