Walter Harold Mitchell made his first appearance in Yavapai County Superior Court yesterday by video link where. His bond was set at $250,000 and he was assigned a public defender according to the Houston Chronicle.
His next court date is not known at this time.
Scott Mascher, Sheriff of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Department issued a media release that was posted on Facebook updating the public about the arrest of Mitchell on Tuesday, December 29.
"This situation is unimaginable," Mascher said in the statement. "And I am so sorry for the families whose lived 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."
Mascher went on to explain why the discovery of human remains on December 26 and 27 was given such a focus in the department. "At the onset, it was important to determine that this case did not involve a serial killer and that is why, working with Sheriff Elect Rhodes, I directed all available resources to the case."
Mascher is set to retire from the department on January 1, 2021.
The investigation began when officers with YCSO were called to an area off of Conteras Road outside of Prescott after the discovery of two human limbs on December 26. Further investigation of the area revealed another 17 limbs. The following day, detectives and searchers recovered still another 5 limbs from that area.
That same day, officers received a phone call from a hunter in the Camp Wood area stating that he had discovered two severed human heads. Officers responded to that area, confirmed what the hunter had found, and during a search of the area recovered an additional three heads.
Investigators determined, based on additional material recovered from both sites, that the remains were likely related. As early as December 28, investigators were indicating that "evidence recovered at each site indicates the remains are connected and used in medical settings, research, and education."
Mitchell reportedly recently closed his Seattle-Tacoma based company FutureGeneX which had managed cadavers for use in research projects. The website states that the business was "geared for those that desire to support reputable medical education."
"FutureGenex leadership has learned a thing or two about service to the donating family and maintaining the quality of the donation for those who use the tissue," the website reads.
What is not known is why Mitchell drove from Washington to Arizona with five bodies in his vehicle and dumped them outside of Prescott.
Mitchell has been charged with 28 counts of moving human remains with the intent to conceal or abandon them.