Man pleads not guilty to murder charge in death of woman found dead near Highway 38

MUSCATINE COUNTY, Iowa -- A man has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge he's facing in the death of a woman found dead near a highway.

Douglas Joseph Foster was expected to appear in court on Friday, February 1.   Foster entered a written plea of not guilty and did not appear in court, according to Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostegren.

Previous reports indicate that the body of 20-year-old Lea Renae Ponce was found along the side of Highway 38 around 1 a.m. January 8. 

Two days later, Foster was taken into custody, initially arrested as a "material witness."

According to an affidavit, surveillance video showed Ponce getting into Foster's white GMC pickup at a Muscatine Walmart.  That was about 24 hours before she was found dead and was the last time she was seen.

An autopsy showed Ponce died from blunt force trauma to the head. Her injuries indicated she was struck by a vehicle, dragged by a vehicle and was thrown or jumped from a vehicle.

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