Ekstrom, Dilley in court

The two people charged with first-degree murder in the death of Steven Fisher, whose body was found in a ditch near Otho Wednesday, made their initial appearances Saturday in Webster County Magistrate Court.

Ronald J. Dilley, 29, and Holly N. Ekstrom, 22, had their $500,000 bonds continued by Magistrate William Thatcher, who also set their preliminary hearings for Friday.

Dilley gave the court a Stanhope address, but when questioned by Thatcher, Ekstrom said she was unemployed, that she and Dilley support each other and that “We don’t have a home.”

Dilley and Ekstrom are accused of killing 22-year-old Fisher, of Fort Dodge, who was reported missing Tuesday. Friends of Fisher’s said he and Ekstrom had been romantically involved on and off for years.

The arrests came on the same day the state medical examiner’s office confirmed Fisher’s identity.

Webster County Attorney Cori Kuhn Coleman praised the efforts of local and state law enforcement in conducting the investigation and making the arrests.

“It was really impressive work,” she said.

Webster County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Rod Strait also complimented the agencies involved on the “well-coordinated, efficient effort.”

The investigation is being conducted by the Webster County sheriff’s office, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Webster County medical examiner, state medical examiner’s office, Fort Dodge Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol.

At about 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, the Webster County Telecommunications Center received a call from a farmer mowing in a ditch who reported possible human remains along Madison Avenue, west of Otho. However, the body was in a state of decomposition that made immediate identification impossible.

On Friday, Fisher’s vehicle was discovered by law enforcement officials in the 1300 block of Second Avenue South; it was seized and sent to the DCI lab.

Friends and family last reported seeing Fisher late last week. Colten Anderson said Fisher’s family believed he was staying with Anderson’s family, as he sometimes did. Both Anderson and Fisher, known to his friends as “Fish,” worked at Liguria Foods in Humboldt.

A 2009 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, Fisher was an aviation electronics technician with the Air National Guard and a former newspaper carrier for The Messenger.