Elma man pleads not guilty in death of missing northeast Iowa man

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(ABC 6 News) – An Elma, Iowa man appeared in Howard County court on Monday and pleaded not guilty in the murder of a northeast Iowa man that went missing in October 2022.

Sayvonne Eugene Jordan, is charged with 1st-degree murder, going armed with intent, and abuse of a corpse.

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According to court documents, Jordan dismembered a corpse in an attempt to hide his crime after allegedly murdering Iowa resident Jonathan Esparza.

On the night of October 20, 30-year-old Jonathan Esparza left his home in New Hampton, Iowa to visit a friend in Elma and was later reported missing, according to a missing person report.

Weeks later on November 11, Esparza’s car was found abandoned.

RELATED: Elma man charged in death of missing Iowa man

Deputy Sheriff Investigator Richard Hollenbeck says witnesses led the sheriff’s department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to the home of Sayvonne Jordan.

After Esparza had been missing for more than a month, a search warrant was executed on November 30 on Jordan’s property.

“During the search warrant in the house, evidence of some kind of violent act against another person and then the discovery of the human remains in concert with what we found in the house led us to the probable cause that Sayvonne did end Mr. Esparza’s life,” Hollenbeck said.

The small town of Elma has around 500 people and neighbors and community members say they had no idea of the horror that happened across the street.

“Jonny was a good good guy and he was thoughtful he cared about people,” Cole Biernes said.

Jordan’s trial is set to begin on March 29.