A former Seattle man who had recently closed his business managing cadavers for research and moved to Arizona was arrested Tuesday for allegedly dumping severed limbs and heads throughout two remote areas outside of Prescott, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation started over the weekend when 19 human limbs and five severed human heads were found, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The remains were traced back to Walter Mitchell, 59, who closed his business, Future GenX, earlier this year and moved to Scottsdale, where he was arrested Tuesday and booked into jail on 28 counts of unlawful discarding of human remains.
It is illegal to knowingly move a body or remains with an intent to abandon them, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.
Yavapai County detectives said their investigation revealed Mitchell left Seattle earlier this year, relocating to Arizona with human remains belonging to five Seattle-area individuals, detectives said.
“The disrespect shown to the deceased in this case by those who were charged with caring for their remains is abhorrent and intolerable,” Sheriff-elect David Rhodes said in a statement.
Sheriff Scott Mascher said initially investigators feared the case might involve a serial killer.
“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,” Mascher said on the agency’s Facebook page.
Mitchell was quoted in a 2017 Reuters series on body donation as the former owner of BioGift, an Oregon body-donation firm, and described in a photo caption as a “veteran body broker.”
A call to the Yavapai County Prosecutor’s Office for further information about the case was not returned Wednesday. It was not clear Wednesday whether Mitchell had an attorney.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Mitchell had been criminally charged. It was not clear Wednesday whether charges had been filed.