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Man arrested as material witness in Fairfield woman's death

Douglas Foster
Douglas Foster

MUSCATINE – A man has been arrested and charged as a material witness in connection with the death of a Fairfield woman last week.

Douglas Joseph Foster, 35, of Marion, was arrested Thursday as a material witness in the death of Lea Ponce, a 20-year-old Fairfield woman who was found dead along the side of the road Tuesday morning 5 miles north of Muscatine.

Officers may take a material witness to a crime into custody when there is probable cause to believe the witness would not be available for a subpoena to appear at a subsequent hearing or trial.

As of Friday, Foster was being held in the Muscatine County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

Ponce was found dead on the side of Highway 38 at approximately 12:58 a.m. Tuesday. An investigation revealed that she was last seen alive at the Muscatine Walmart less than 30 minutes prior at 12:32 a.m., where she was seen entering a white GMC pickup truck. According to the criminal complaint filed by law enforcement, this vehicle “is associated with Foster.”

Investigators discovered Foster’s vehicle in Marion, where it was parked behind a storage facility. Investigators received permission to search the facility, and found some of Ponce’s personal property in an area where it appeared that Foster had been staying. While examining the property, investigators found Foster hiding in an attic space among the rafters.

Foster made statements during the interview that he attempted to hide to avoid arrest on active warrants from out-of-state.

According to the complaint, after being told of his Miranda rights, Foster said he picked up Ponce at the Muscatine Walmart, but after a few minutes, she insisted on getting out of the vehicle. Foster claimed that he stopped the vehicle, and Ponce got out. He said he returned to the Marion area. While on the way back to Marion, he said he took a level B maintenance road and his vehicle became stuck.

Investigators learned that Foster is wanted on a felony warrant from Texas.