A Colorado man admitted to the murder and dismemberment of 33-year-old Joshua Lockard in Denver District Court on Thursday. Benjamin Satterthwaite, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree in an arrangement that will see him serve a prison sentence of 25-30 years, according to local prosecutors.
“We thank Mr. Lockard’s family for supporting our decision to accept Mr. Satterwhaite’s guilty plea,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said. “This was a horrific murder; however, the cause of Mr. Lockard’s death was never determined which makes his guilty plea and potential sentence length an appropriate outcome.”
Lockard was last seen alive on Dec. 26, 2020 and was Facebook friends with his admitted killer. The deceased man was a father who had recently experienced homelessness.
On December 29, 2020, two city parks employees who were plowing snow on a sidewalk came upon two separate suitcases–one of the bags was purple; the other bag was black. The purple suitcase contained one particularly gruesome piece of evidence: a human foot.
The workers called 911 dispatch after that macabre discovery and Denver Police Department officers arrived soon thereafter.
Homicide Detective Adam Golden was assigned the case and quickly ascertained what became the leading clue in the killing: a baggage claim sticker “consistent with being placed after a recent flight,” according to a redacted warrant for Satterthwaite’s arrest.
Underneath the barcode on that sticker were the words “Satterthwait” and “Den,” according to the DA’s office.
“The purple suitcase was opened and a human foot and leg were observed inside,” the warrant continued. “The black suitcase was opened and what appeared to be a human torso was inside.”
Police said surveillance footage led them to believe “the occupant(s) of [a] dark colored SUV placed the suitcases on the sidewalk.”
The court document goes on to describe coroner’s details of the post-slaying mutilation while commenting on the various unknowns:
The black suitcase was opened. A torso was observed in a black trash bag. Black duct tape was wrapped around the trash bag.
The purple suitcase was opened. A right leg and left upper thigh, wrapped in black trash bags were located inside. The initial examination revealed the left upper thigh and right leg belong to the torso.
The victim’s head, left arm, right arm, and lower left left were not located. The cause of the victim’s death was not immediately apparent. The dismemberment appeared to have occurred postmortem.
The cause of death a mystery and the victim more so, police said they quickly made another big break through sheer coincidence.
Denver Police Detective Eric Bueno “happened to be at the Homicide Unit” on New Year’s Day and answered a call about a death-overdose situation at the Royal Chateaux apartments in Southwest Denver.
After gaining entry, after some effort, police found a woman who “appeared [to be] deceased” and Satterthwaite who “appeared [to be] suffering from an overdose episode,” the arrest warrant noted.
“Detective Bueno was aware of Benjamin Satterthwaite’s possible connection to the homicide investigation,” the warrant continued.
Also inside the apartment were several items of interest, including a “black suitcase that is similar in appearance to [the] black suitcase” that was found containing the human remains, “several black trash bags,” “tissues with suspected blod,” “packaging for a hand saw,” “one saw blade containing suspected blood,” a “hand saw,” “an excessive amount of blood on the right side of the couch,” and a “bank card containing the name Joshua Lockard,” according to the arrest warrant.
The next day, police traced the flight details from one of the original suitcases back to the defendant’s father, Jeffrey Satterthwaite, who told detectives that his son “has drug addiction issues” and that he recently traveled to Denver where he put some of his “old clothes and shoes in his purple suitcase to give to his son.”
Surveillance footage from a local Walmart was later obtained by police which appeared to sho a white male matching the defendant’s description purchasing a hacksaw, two saw blades and a mop.
The defendant was arrested by Denver Police on Jan. 7 and has been detained in the Denver Detention Center since that day. He was originally charged with murder in the first degree and tampering with a deceased human body.
He is currently slated to be sentenced on Nov. 12.
[image via Denver District Attorney]
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