Knigge accused of killing Gomez in Clare

Woman arrested in Indiana on murder charge makes her initial court appearance in Webster County

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Mackenzie Knigge looks up as she makes her initial appearance in Webster County Magistrate Court Wednesday morning. Knigge, who is charged with first-degree murder, appeared in court via a closed-circuit TV monitor.

A woman accused of killing her “best friend” at a residence in Clare made her first appearance in Webster County Magistrate Court on Wednesday after being extradited from Indiana to face her murder charge.

Mackenzie L. Knigge, 26, of Clare, is facing one count of first-degree murder in the death of Jessica Gomez, 26, of Fort Dodge.

According to the criminal complaint, filed with the Webster County attorney’s office, Knigge allegedly killed Gomez “on or about” Aug. 5 at 524 E. Front St. in Clare.

No other details about the case were revealed in the complaint.

The remains of Gomez were found near Clare on Aug. 12.

Mackenzie Knigge

Knigge, along with Phillip A. Williams, 25, of Lafayette, Indiana, were arrested in Lafayette on Aug. 10 and charged with first-degree murder days later.

Williams has not yet been extradited from Indiana.

Knigge made her initial appearance in front of Magistrate Steve Kersten in Webster County Magistrate Court Wednesday morning.

She said very little during the initial appearance, only responding, “No, sir,” when Kersten twice asked her if she had any questions about what was happening.

Ryan Baldridge, first assistant Webster County attorney, recommended that bond remain set at $1 million cash. That bond had previously been set when Knigge’s warrant was issued.

Phillip Williams

Baldridge requested bond be set at that amount because “the defendant fled to the state of Indiana.”

Kersten agreed, and set Knigge’s bond at $1 million.

Knigge also had a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 15.

Jacqui McCollum, of Fort Dodge, is Gomez’s grandmother. She had previously described Knigge and Gomez as best friends.

Knigge and Gomez were initially reported to the Webster County Sheriff’s Department as missing persons on Aug. 9.

Knigge was a passenger in a stolen Pontiac Montana minivan that was stopped by Lafayette police on Aug. 10, according to Sgt. Matt Gard, of the Lafayette Police Department. The van, which bore Indiana license plates, was stopped at the intersection of North 19th and Salem streets in Lafayette.

Webster County officials had been seeking that van in connection to Knigge and Gomez’s disappearances.

Williams was also in the van.

Sheriff Jim Stubbs said Williams is facing charges in Indiana that the state would like to take care of first, though he didn’t know what those charges were.

Once those cases are resolved, Stubbs said Williams will be sent to Webster County.

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