A man who had recently closed a business in Seattle that held cadavers for research was arrested on Tuesday and accused of dumping human body parts in the forest outside Prescott.
Walter Mitchell, 59, was found and apprehended in Scottsdale by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, which had been investigating the grisly discovery this weekend of limbs and skulls scattered across two remote areas.
Investigators were able to trace the remains to a company that Mitchell ran called Future GenX, which was involved in managing cadavers for use in research projects.
Mitchell recently closed that company, the Sheriff’s Office said, and drove from Seattle with five bodies.
The Sheriff’s Office said Mitchell drove through the Prescott area and then continued on to Scottsdale.
The incident started with the discovery of 19 human limbs disposed in a remote forest area northwest of Prescott on Dec. 26. The following day, deputies searched and recovered five more limbs there.
Additionally, a hunter reported finding two human heads in another area of the forest. Upon searching the area, deputies found three more heads.
Investigators determined based on materials found at both sites, including gauzes called “puppy pads,” that the two sets of remains were related and likely connected to the same suspect.
Mitchell was booked into jail on 28 counts of improperly moving human remains, a Class 5 felony.
The Sheriff’s Office said it did not yet have a motive for Mitchell’s actions.
In a statement, Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher, who retires on Jan. 1, said he was glad his deputies were able to make an arrest.
“This situation is unimaginable,” he said in his statement, “and I am so sorry for the families whose loved ones were donated to research and treated in such a horrific fashion.