A central Iowa man who was arrested on robbery charges is also being held as a material witness in his mother’s death. Assistant Pella Police Chief Mel Vander Wiel says it began after a cashier reported a robbery at a gas station. Vander Wiel says a stranger left the gas station with 123-dollars and 38-cents worth of merchandise, after refusing to pay for it. The clerk called police again a little after 1:30 the same morning, from the same convenience store. The same man had returned to the store, this time armed with a shotgun, and took more merchandise without paying for it. The clerk, who’d seen the man coming into the store with a gun, phoned 9-1-1 and officers waited for the armed man to leave the store, then stopped William Brandow as he drove on Highway 163 in Mahaska County. Vander Wiel says they purposely waited until the man was out of the store and out of town so there wouldn’t be danger to bystanders in case he started shooting. But Brandow surrendered without incident. Officers searched Brandow’s car and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia and he’s been charged with drug possession as well as theft. No test results are back yet to show whether he was under the influence of any substances at the time. Hours later Mitchellville police were called to a house in the town just east of Des Moines, where they found Brandow’s mother dead. Polk County chief sheriff’s deputy Neil Shultz says about 6:30 Tuesday evening a neighbor of Lynne Hancock went over to check on the woman after not hearing from her in a while, and found “what looked like a homicide scene.” The chief deputy won’t give many details but he does say officers called to the home agreed it looked like a murder scene, and the dead woman was taken to the Polk County Coroner in Des Moines. He says they’ll know more after the autopsy’s done and the crime-scene is examined. The dead woman is Brandow’s mother, but Shultz says they’re not assuming the cases are connected. “I think we’re starting to close up some of those gaps right now,” Shultz says. Forty-year-old William Brandow remains jailed in Marion County and is also considered a “material witness” in the death of his 60-year-old mother at her home in Mitchellville.
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