King County prosecutors say a 31-year-old Skyway man hid a man’s body in a plastic tote under the bathroom sink of his Renton hotel room for nearly two weeks while continuing to meet others for sex in the same room where the 61-year-old victim died.

James Perkins was charged last week with first-degree manslaughter, accused of recklessly causing the death of William Sheldon on or about April 23. Evidence found in the Jeep that Perkins had borrowed from his roommate — including shovels, utility saws, gloves and receipts for air fresheners and cleaning supplies — indicate Perkins was planning on dismembering and disposing of Sheldon’s body, charging papers say.

Sheldon’s body was discovered May 5 after Renton police detectives obtained a search warrant, forced their way into Perkins’ room at a hotel in the 1800 block of East Valley Road, and arrested Perkins, who had been wanted on three bench warrants, the charges say. He was charged Wednesday with manslaughter and remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail, jail and court records show.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Sheldon suffered at least 10 broken ribs and died from blunt force trauma, according to the charges. His death was ruled a homicide.

According to the charges:

On April 26, a woman called Redmond police and reported that no one in her circle of friends had seen or heard from Sheldon for three days.

Mercer Island police took over the investigation when police learned Sheldon had been staying with a friend on Mercer Island. The friend told detectives Sheldon used different websites to hook up with other men and he had last heard from him on April 23.

Advertising

Detectives learned Sheldon’s cellphone had last “pinged” off a tower in Renton, and police there found Sheldon’s blue Acura in the hotel parking lot. A hotel manager told officers Sheldon wasn’t a registered guest but said the car had been there about a week.

Three days later, a Mercer Island police sergeant spoke to the manager again, who reported a bad smell coming from a vacant, third-floor hotel room but said a search of the room failed to turn up the source of the odor.

The sergeant went to the hotel, smelled “the distinct odor of decomposition,” and requested assistance from Renton police.

Renton police learned the occupant of the room next door refused to let anyone into his room and claimed to be infected with COVID-19. After attempting to negotiate with the man for several hours, police obtained a search warrant and forced their way inside, the charges say.

Investigators found a large plastic tote under the bathroom sink and “saw what was clearly part of a human body,” charging papers say.

Police say Perkins — who had checked into the hotel using his roommate’s identification and credit card because of his outstanding warrants — said he and Sheldon had met online and Perkins invited Sheldon to the hotel. The men took meth and hallucinogenic drugs together, but then Sheldon started acting strangely and was crawling around on the floor, the charges say.

According to police, Perkins said he placed Sheldon in a bear hug to calm him down; he fell asleep and when he woke, Sheldon was still on the floor in the same position.

Perkins apparently made several trips between the hotel and his residence, and police say he decided to put Sheldon in the plastic tote “to keep the room clean and not make an unnecessary mess,” the charges say. Inside the hotel room, police found air fresheners, cleaning supplies, drugs, syringes and pipes. They also found the shovels, saws and receipts for supplies inside the roommate’s Jeep in the hotel parking lot, along with a duffle bag containing Sheldon’s wallet, a duvet cover and a shower curtain that reeked with the same odor of decomposition, according to the charges.