Ft. Dodge Murder Suspect Pleads ‘Not Guilty’


Mackenzie Knigge (WHO-HD)

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FORT DODGE, Iowa —  It was short day in court for Mackenzie Knigge, lasting less than five minutes.

Knigge was brought back to Iowa from Indiana in early September to face a murder charge in the death of 26-year-old Jessica Gomez.

Her lawyer read the plea of not guilty. Knigge also waived her right to speedy trial, which is common in murder cases.

The criminal complaint in the case says Webster County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Knigge’s apartment in Clare on August 7th after receiving a report of a large amount of blood found in the residence. A deputy observed the blood and “other items consistent with a homicide and attempts to conceal evidence of a homicide.”

Twenty-five-year-old Phillip Williams of Lafayette, Indiana is also charged with murder in the case.

After a search warrant was obtained the Division of Criminal Investigation processed the scene. Investigators observed, “it appears a body was pulled over the edge of the bathtub onto a surface other than the bathroom floor, in order to remove the body from the residence without spreading additional blood throughout the residence.”

The complaint says Knigge and Williams, who were in a relationship with each other, tried to obtain items like bleach and plastic bags from friends in the early morning hours of August 5th. They then went to Wal-Mart in Fort Dodge and purchased latex gloves, bleach, plastic sheeting, and facemasks.

Williams also later purchased a fuel container after an associate bought him one he indicated “was not large enough” for his purposes.

On August 10th, Mackenzie Knigge was arrested in Layfayette, Indiana following a traffic stop. Williams was arrested the following day on an outstanding warrant in Bloomington, Indiana.

The burned body of Jessica Gomez was discovered in a field August 12th near Clare.

Knigge and Williams were charged with murder on August 14th.

Officials say Knigge was friends with Gomez, and Williams was also having a relationship with Gomez.

Gomez’ brother, Shawn Halber, spoke after the arraignment and he said that with each new piece of information coming out, it feels more and more like a crime television show than real life.

“I have a lot of questions, ya know. Those questions will never arise and never be answered. I just have to live with the fact that, I just have to accept the fact that I might not be able to know these answers. Do I even want to know these answers? I don’t know,” said Shawn Halber.

She is being held on a $1 million bond in the Webster County Jail. Williams remains in the Tippecanoe County County Jail in Indiana.



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