Prescott, Arizona – A former operator of a Seattle donated corpse business who mercilessly dumped dozens of bodies in central Arizona was sentenced Monday to more than six years in prison.
A Yavapai County Superior Court jury in September convicted Walter Harold Mitchell III of 29 felony counts of concealing or abandoning a body.
Judge Krista Carman sentenced Mitchell to 2.5 years in prison on 24 counts concurrently and 3.75 years concurrently on the remaining five counts for a total of 6.25 years in prison.
Mitchell, 61, will serve 671 days in prison since he was arrested almost two years ago.
Prosecutors were seeking “18 years or more” in prison for Mitchell.
“I take responsibility for what I did,” Mitchell said in the ruling. “I live or die, whatever the court sees fit. Sorry.”
Mitchell said 24 limbs and five heads were discovered by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office in December 2020 in a remote wooded area north of Prescott, 99 miles (159 kilometers) north of Phoenix. He was arrested in his Scottsdale apartment after reporting that
Prosecutors said human remains — mostly female body parts — were associated with up to 12 people.
On December 26, 2020, two lumberjacks found human arms and legs, and a corresponding county sheriff’s deputy found nearly 20 body parts.
The next day, prosecutors said two hunters came across two severed heads, which led to the recovery of the other three heads.
Investigators said most of the body parts had tags and serial numbers indicating that they had been donated for medical research.
That evidence, and the label with the name of Mitchell’s whole body endowment business, led law enforcement to him.
Officials learned that Mitchell permanently closed its operations in Washington state in April 2020.
Prosecutors said Mitchell took donor parts packed in dry ice to a U-Haul truck when he moved to Arizona.
He kept the parts in a freezer in a shed north of Prescott in Chino Valley and later told authorities he dumped them in late November 2020.
Mitchell was arrested after selling his freezer and moving to Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix.