A Deadly Sin in 'Sin City'
Chris Loudermilk was Mitchel's tenant and her downfall, police say. He reported the body in her yard to police.
Las Vegas, NV, is a town of bright lights and big bets. There are more slot machines and hotel rooms in Las Vegas than any other city in the U.S. But it's not all fun and games; violent crime still happens within its neon lit borders.
When artist Chris Loudermilk rented a room in Anna Mitchel's Las Vegas house last spring, he knew there was something strange about his new landlord. She held long and loud parties and orgies well into the night, he said. These weren't "cookie and punch parties," said Chris.
He could handle that, but what he learned about her next was too much. On July 20, 2003, Mitchel calmly told Chris she'd killed a man and needed him to leave for the night so she could relocate the body in the backyard.
"I wanted no details," Chris said. "I grabbed my bags and left."
Chris snuck back to the home at 2am that night hoping not to confirm his worst fears. Mitchel wasn't kidding. Chris found a freshly dug grave with a hand still sticking through the dirt. It was the stuff you see in horror movies but for Chris, this was reality.
The body was in bad shape, police said. It was an exceptionally gruesome murder, even by their standards. The legs were missing and later found charred in what police say was an attempt to dispose of evidence.
Chris immediately went to the cops who promptly investigated the charge. Officers confronted Mitchel at her home that night and she easily relented; she did have a body in her backyard.
Mitchel shrugged her shoulders. "I guess I need a lawyer, huh?" she said.
Police had their killer in custody and their body in the morgue, all they needed was a name.
Dealer Refuses to Name Victim
Anna Mitchel was mum on the name of the "John Doe" she killed, so police came to AMW.
Anna Mitchel was no stranger to Vegas. She'd worked as a blackjack dealer for several casinos on the strip. But she'd also kept to herself and had no prior trouble with the law, authorities say.
Police were in a bind with this one though. They couldn't ID Mitchel's victim because the coroner said he'd been dead for 1-3 years and fingerprints were impossible at this point.
Mitchel had one more card to play. She wanted to trade her victim's name for a lighter sentence. Police didn't cave and turned to America's Most Wanted for help. Police and AMW were now working backwards on this case. Instead of launching a manhunt for a fugitive, they needed to ID the deceased to notify next of kin. Police had their killer in custody and their body in the morgue, all they needed was a name.
AMW usually profiles drug dealers, now it was profiling a card dealer. The only evidence police had were several distinctive tattoos on the badly decomposed body. Because this was an unusual case, authorities needed unusual methods to solve it. AMW and police hired two tattoo artists and a model to recreate their only clues.
When Mitchel's story aired, Angel Shearer was watching in her home thousands of miles away in Miamisburg, OH, a small Midwestern town with a population of 20,000. The tattoos were all Angel needed to see. She immediately recognized Mitchel's unknown victim as her uncle Cecil Wilson. Last time she or any of her other family members heard from him, he'd been in Vegas.
A DNA test proved that the dead man was Wilson. Only two questions remained: Just who was Cecil Wilson? And why did Mitchel kill him?
Police Learn About Ohio Man, Mitchel Folds
Wilson was a local tough guy with a long rap sheet, police say.
Wilson was the town troublemaker with a criminal record a mile long, according to police.
He was "one of those people when you had to arrest him, we knew we'd either have a fight or a car chase," say police.
Family members say they knew a different man. They say Wilson was a generous animal lover who kept a pet rat in his front jacket pocket. When a bar patron killed the rat for drinking out of his beer mug, Wilson nearly killed him, police say.
Wilson's family also says he was never the same since a head injury sustained in 1999. A girlfriend's jealous ex-boyfriend had beaten Wilson with a tire iron. Wilson was in the ICU until he recovered, but even then, family members say he couldn't walk or talk normally.
Faced with the identity of the man she'd murdered, Mitchel had no more cards to play. She pleaded guilty in court and is now serving seven to 20 in the Nevada State Pen. But why'd she do it? Mitchel says Wilson made unwanted sexual advances toward her. For that, she says she strangled him.
Police don't buy it but also don't expect Mitchel to reveal the truth anytime soon.
One of Cecil Wilson's three tattoos.
These tattoos were all police had to go on. But it was enough.
Wilson's niece knew her uncle had been killed in Las Vegas, NV.
We hoped that by recreating these unique tattoos, a viewer might recognize them. Sure enough, one did.
Angel Shearer was watching AMW when it profiled her Uncle Cecil.
Anna Mitchel tried to make a deal, but AMW came through.