A convicted drug kingpin facing federal charges in the 1993 slayings of five people, including two children, talked about making witnesses disappear, police informants testified Tuesday.
Timothy Cutkomp said he knew of the disappearances and believed the five had been killed because of things Dustin Honken said.
He said Honken asked how deep something would have to be buried before the frost would push it up.
"I took it as him wanting to dig up the bodies and bury them deeper," Cutkomp said.
Honken faces the death penalty if convicted. It is the first death penalty case in Iowa in more than 40 years.
Prosecutors allege Honken, with the aid of his girlfriend, Angela Johnson, beat and tortured Greg Nicholson and killed him execution-style in June 1993 _ the day before he was scheduled to testify about Honken's activities.
On the same day, Nicholson's girlfriend, Lori Duncan, and her two daughters, Kandi and Amber, also disappeared.
Four months later, another informant, Terry DeGeus, disappeared.
The bodies were found in 2000, buried in fields southwest of Mason City.
Cutkomp, 37, of Britt, pleaded guilty to federal drug charges for making meth with Honken, a childhood friend. Cutkomp faced up to 14 years in prison, but his sentence was reduced to 4 1/2 years in exchange for his cooperation, he testified.
He also agreed to wear a recording device to tape conversations he had with Honken. A copy of one of the tapes was played in court, but was unintelligible. The attorneys, judge and jurors were given written transcripts to follow along.
As Honken continued to talk about eliminating witness, Cutkomp said he decided to go to authorities.
"Looking back at what happened before, I didn't want it to happen again," he said. "I saw people disappear, assumed they were killed and didn't want that to happen anymore."
Cutkomp said he also helped Honken cut up and melt down a handgun and then threw the melted down pieces into a ditch along a road.
Another informant, Daniel Cobeen, 42, said Honken told him that Nicholson owed him money and that he had "had him disappear."
Honken also told him that he wanted several people, including police officers, killed, and told Cobeen "'if you get on my bad side, I have someone who can knock on your door,'" Cobeen testified.