douglas foster mug


MUSCATINE — A material witness has been arrested in connection with the death of a Fairfield woman who's body was found Tuesday in Muscatine County.

Douglas J. Foster, 35, of Marion, Iowa, was arrested Thursday evening and charged as a material witness to the felony of murder in the first degree in the death of Lea Ponce, 20, who was found dead along Iowa 38 between Muscatine and Wilton, according to a news release from Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren. 

A cash-only bond of $50,000 is set for Foster, who is being held in the Muscatine County Jail.

The case is being investigated by the Muscatine County Sheriff's Office in coordination with Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, Iowa State Patrol, Muscatine Police Department, Muscatine County Drug Task Force, Coralville Police Department, Iowa City Police Department, Cedar Rapids Police Department, Marion Police Department, and Muscatine County Attorney's Office.

In the criminal complaint, Ponce was last seen alive at 12:32 a.m. getting into a white GMC pickup truck associated with Foster at Walmart in Muscatine. She was found dead at 12:58 a.m. Tuesday on the shoulder of Iowa 38. 

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Investigators found the truck at 4857 10th Ave. in Marion, parked behind a storage facility. After getting permission to search the facility, investigators found Foster hiding in the attic, along with some of Ponce's belongings in an area where it appeared Foster was staying.

Foster said during the interview he was hiding to avoid an arrest for out-of- state warrants. He also made post-Miranda statements that he had picked up Ponce at Walmart in Muscatine, and she insisted on getting out of the vehicle a few minutes later. He said he let her out and drove back to Marion, claiming he took a level B maintenance road, where his vehicle became stuck.

Investigators found Foster is wanted on a felony warrant out of Texas.

According to the release, Iowa law allows a peace officer to take "a material witness to a crime into custody when there is probable cause to believe the witness would not be available for the service of a subpoena to appear at a subsequent hearing or trial."

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