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Man fatally stabs mother in her sleep after researching ‘how to kill an elderly person,’ leaves pieces of her dismembered body in tote bins along highway: Police

Troy Michael Mitteness (Dakota County Jail)

Troy Michael Mitteness (Dakota County Jail)

A 56-year-old man in Minnesota allegedly killed his own mother after she learned that he’d been stealing from her, then cut up her remains and dropped tote bins filled with her dismembered body parts in various ditches along the state highway. Troy Michael Mitteness was arrested last week and charged with one count of second-degree murder for slaying his 82-year-old mother, Sandra Viola Mitteness, court documents reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Mitteness was already locked up on charges of theft, mail theft, and check forgery when he was charged with his mother’s murder, records show.

“The facts alleged in this case make it one of the most horrific and disturbing cases I’ve experienced in the course of my 34-year career. I wish to thank the Burnsville Police Department for their doggedness into the investigation of the disappearance of Ms. Mitteness without which this case may have gone unsolved,” Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena said in an emailed statement to Law&Crime. “My deepest sympathy is extended to the other family members and friends of Ms. Mitteness for their great loss.”

According to a probable cause affidavit, officers with the Burnsville Police Department in late June were investigating reports of mail theft allegedly committed by Mitteness when they learned that some of the proceeds from the alleged theft had been deposited into his mother Sandra Mitteness’ bank account. When detectives tried to speak with her, Mitteness initially told them she was in South Dakota, then claimed she had actually died on June 14, 2022.

When executing a search warrant on Mitteness’ home, police say they recovered an obituary indicating Mitteness’ mother had died on that date, but when they contacted the funeral home they denied ever providing post-mortem care or funeral services for Sandra Mitteness.

Several family members explained to police they had not seen Sandra Mitteness in about a year and believed her dead because that was what Mitteness told them. Mitteness allegedly said that his mother had fallen down the stairs in June 2022 and was hospitalized, but could not be visited because she had COVID-19. He claimed she died shortly after the purported fall, police say.

After claiming his mother had died, Mitteness allegedly sold her car. Investigators tracked the vehicle down and performed forensic tests which “gave preliminary indications of the presence of blood in the trunk.”

A subsequent search warrant executed on the home Mitteness shared with his mother earlier this month revealed the presence of blood on the stairs, police said. Officers also say they found a mattress and box spring that both had “large dark red stains” on them.

In a post-Miranda interview with detectives, Mitteness allegedly confessed to killing his mother because “he had spent all of her money and she was becoming suspicious and wanted to see her finances.” He even said that prior to the murder he went online to research “how to kill an elderly person without poison” before deciding to stab her in her sleep. He further said that he researched “the best spots to stab someone to make their death quick and painless,” per the affidavit.

“He told the detectives that he killed the Victim on June 2, 2022, in his Burnsville, Dakota County home, by stabbing her in the neck with a large kitchen knife. After she had been dead for a couple of days, Defendant dismembered her body and placed her body parts in multiple different large plastic tote bins that he had in his garage,” the document states. “He then drove with the bins in his car from Burnsville toward Appleton, Minnesota, and discarded parts of the Victim’s body by throwing them in the ditch as he drove. Defendant advised that he did this because he did not want to get caught. Defendant advised that he had discarded two of the plastic totes behind a dumpster at an abandoned rest stop on Highway 7 towards Willmar, Minnesota.”

Officers were able to recover the bins left at the rest stop, which they said matched similar bins found in Mitteness’ garage while executing the search warrant.

Mitteness is currently being held in the Dakota County Jail on $2 million bond and is scheduled to appear in court for an Omnibus Hearing on July 20.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.