Prior media releases follow for reference –
As the investigation continues in the recovery of human remains and arrest of suspect Walter Mitchell, detectives are seeking additional information from the public.
Detectives are hoping to locate what is commonly known as a ‘chest freezer’ owned by Mitchell and then sold in Chino Valley sometime between mid-November and December 19, 2020. The freezer is a 1970’s to early 1980’s model, top loading style, and off pale yellow in color. It is likely Mitchell advertised the freezer on Craigslist or a similar publication with the sale taking placing at a home on Reed Road in Chino Valley. Detectives would like to speak with the person or persons that bought the freezer or anyone who might have knowledge of the sale.
If you have information on this request, please contact Detective JT Smith at 928-777-7271 or Yavapai Silent Witness at 1800-932-3232. You can also submit a tip online at yavapaisw.com.
Mitchell remains in-custody on a $250,000 bond.
Issued December 29, 2020 – UPDATE #2 – SUSPECT ARRESTED – Diligent work by YCSO detective’s investigating this case has resulted in the arrest of 59-year-old Walter Mitchell who was found in Scottsdale earlier today.
Background – Please note the investigation remains active and not all details are available.
Using evidence recovered from the scene, detectives discovered the remains were likely connected to a business based in Seattle, Washington, identified as ‘Future GenX.’ Mitchell owned the business which involved the management of cadavers for research and had recently closed. Working with local police in the Seattle area, detectives obtained information that Mitchell left Seattle in 2020 with human remains belonging to 5 individuals. Detectives traced Mitchell’s travels to the Prescott/Chino Valley communities and then recently to Scottsdale where he was contacted and arrested this morning. Mitchell’s motivation for his actions are unknown currently.
Mitchell was booked on 28 counts under ARS 13-2926, It is unlawful for a person to knowingly move a dead human body or parts of a human body with the intent to abandon or conceal the dead human body or parts. Bond has not been set.
During the investigation, detectives sought out licensed facilities in Arizona who manage cadavers for medical research, and all have been extremely cooperative. They want the public to know that this case in no way represents the work they do to care for loved ones who have donated their bodies to important education and research.
Sheriff Mascher would like to share the following statement – “This situation is unimaginable, and I am so sorry for the families whose loved ones were donated to research and treated in such a horrific fashion. I want to thank the community for their patience as we investigated this case and am very proud of our detectives, staff, and volunteers, for the work they did to identify and arrest the suspect so quickly. At the onset, it was important to determine that this case did not involve a serial killer and is why, working with Sheriff Elect Rhodes, I directed all available resources to the case.
As I retire this Friday, I want to thank the community for their support and know the agency will continue to do great work.”
Sheriff Elect Rhodes provided the following statement – “The disrespect shown to the deceased in this case by those who were charged with caring for their remains is abhorrent and intolerable. Today’s arrest is a big step in getting accountability and honor for those whose remains were so cavalierly treated. Nothing but gratitude for the people of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Medical Examiner’s Office, and County Attorney’s Office for their non-stop work on this case”
Further details regarding the recovered human remains is also being provided in this release-
Following the December 26, 2020, report to YCSO that 2 human limbs were found in the area off Contreras Road, a search of the area that afternoon resulted in the recovery of 19 limbs including detached arms and legs. The following day, December 27, 2020, detectives and searchers found 5 additional limbs. Also, on December 27, 2020, YCSO received a phone call from a hunter in the Camp Wood area who reported finding 2 severed human heads. Deputies arrived and confirmed what he had seen, and a follow-up search revealed 3 more human heads.
Based on some of the materials found that were associated with the remains at both sites, including ‘puppy pad’ material, it was determined the body parts at each site were likely related and connected to the same suspect. Forensic follow-up by the Yavapai County Medical Examiner is necessary to confirm such findings and that process is underway.
As always, our Search and Rescue volunteers stepped up to assist without hesitation to provide search efforts under the direction of YCSO detectives. Yavapai County Medical Examiner, Dr. Jeffrey Nine, and his team have been crucial partners in this investigation.
If anyone has additional information regarding this investigation, YCSO is urging that you call 928-771-3260 or contact Yavapai Silent Witness at 1800-932-3232, online at yavapaisw.com.
Issued December 28, 2020 – The investigation into who disposed of human remains at 2 locations outside of Prescott continues today and includes search efforts in the target areas. The Medical Examiner will be conducting a forensic examination of the remains recovered and is working with our detectives to determine their origin and who is responsible for the care and control. Again, evidence recovered at each site indicates the remains are connected and used in medical settings, research, and education.
Detectives are requesting that any hunters who may have game cameras in the Camp Wood area off Williamson Valley, or Contreras Road off Iron Springs Road, check their cameras for suspicious activity over the last few days. If you see anything of concern, please call the Sheriff’s Office immediately.
Also, detectives have found what are commonly known as ‘puppy pads’ at both sites (see photo) along with gauze like material. These pads are also used in hospital settings for patients who are incontinent. We are asking that anyone who finds such items in the vicinity of these locations to call the Sheriff’s Office or Yavapai Silent Witness.
Lastly, if you come across anything suspicious related to this investigation, please attempt to obtain GPS coordinates. This will help expedite a response for our detectives and search crews.
You can reach us at 928-771-3260. Anonymous tips may be provided to Yavapai Silent Witness at 1800-932-3232 or online at www.yavapaisw.com. A direct to tip Silent Witness leading to the arrest of a suspect or suspects, will be eligible for a cash reward.
Issued December 27, 2020 – Yesterday afternoon, December 26, 2020, deputies were notified about possible found human remains in a remote area off Contreras Road, North of Iron Springs Road (County Road 10), outside of Prescott, Arizona. Detectives, in conjunction with Yavapai County Medical Examiner investigators, confirmed they were human. The area was secured as the investigation continued until dark and then resumed this morning with assistance on site from Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office personnel.
Earlier today, the Sheriff’s Office was notified additional remains were found in the Camp Wood area off Williamson Valley, northwest of Prescott, Arizona. Preliminary evidence indicates these remains are associated with the remains discovered yesterday near Contreras Road.
Yavapai County Medical Examiner personnel have been present at both sites and stated that evidence tends to show the remains are from a medical institution intended for use in the educational and research field.
The Sheriff’s Office is treating the investigation as a homicide until proven otherwise as we work with the Medical Examiner, Dr. Jeffrey Nine, and his investigators.
There are rigorous standards regarding the control, transportation and use of cadavers and associated body parts. Abandoning remains in this manner is a serious crime and it is the intent of the Sheriff’s Office and Medical Examiner to find those culpable for such disrespect shown in the cavalier way the remains were discarded.
Sheriff Mascher and Sheriff-Elect Rhodes are working together to assure that whatever resources necessary are available to determine those responsible are found and prosecuted.
Sheriff Mascher – “It is not much that could surprise me anymore, but this news makes me sick, especially for the families of those whose remains were found. I have every assurance the persons responsible will be caught.”
Sheriff Elect Rhodes –
“This is a bizarre and grisly case that has more questions than answers at this time. I have confidence we will get those answers soon and find those responsible”
If anyone has information on this investigation or may be aware of persons who have discarded human remains at either site or elsewhere, you are urged to call the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 928-771-3260. Anonymous tips may be provided to Yavapai Silent Witness at 1800-932-3232 or online at www.yavapaisw.com. A direct to tip Silent Witness leading to the arrest of a suspect or suspects, will be eligible for a cash reward. If you come across human remains or body parts, call 911.
Both Sheriff Mascher and Sheriff-Elect Rhodes would like to thank those community members for quick action in contacting the Sheriff’s Office after finding the remains. They would also like to thank the many volunteer groups assisting on the ground at both sites.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov