Son pleads guilty over dad in freezer, gets prison

Conley Fitchett, 87, likely died in December 2015

Ed Fitchett at his sentencing related to the death of his 87-year-old father Conley, April 4, 2017. (KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Conley Fitchett was a good man who didn’t deserve to die the way he did, his son John said at the sentencing of his brother Ed on Tuesday.

Conley, who was 87, likely died in December 2015. But 14 months later, his naked body was found inside a vacuum-sealed bag in the freezer at the home he shared with his 57-year-old son.

As Ed Fitchett sits and listens at his sentencing, his brother John addresses the court and said their father, Conley, did not deserve to die the way he did, April 4, 2017 (KOIN)
As Ed Fitchett sits and listens at his sentencing, his brother John addresses the court and said their father, Conley, did not deserve to die the way he did, April 4, 2017 (KOIN)

Ed Fitchett pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree abuse of a corpse and 6 counts of 1st-degree theft. When he was arrested on February 16, he was also charged with criminal mistreatment and ID theft.

In court, John Fitchett said his dad did not deserve to be put in a freezer, and added he and Ed were estranged for the last 25 years.

“I refused to be in contact with him just because of his lifestyle,” John said in court Tuesday. “He knows why. Don’t you, Ed? It has to do with rape and incest. You see his record. He had that.”

John said his father “always wanted us to get along, but I couldn’t because of his past.”

“He always prayed for you and me, and then you put him in a freezer. He didn’t deserve that, did he?” – John Fitchett

“Dad didn’t deserve it,” John said. “He always prayed for you and me, and then you put him in a freezer. He didn’t deserve that, did he?”

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 84 months — 7 years — and Judge Audrey Broyles accepted that recommendation.

After accepting his plea, Judge Broyles spoke directly to Ed Fitchett.

What Ed did, the judge said, was “a horrible facade, all the time knowing he was right there. It was greed and it is mentally depraved. I have to think there are mental health issues because people just don’t do that.”

The judge said she wasn’t sure if Ed felt any remorse.

“Your punishment is not the 7 years in prison,” Judge Broyles said, “but living for the rest of your life knowing what you did to a good man.”

“I love him. I mean, he’s my dad. I’d like to know where he’s at”

Ed Fitchett was very willing to talk with KOIN 6 News on February 13. As he stood on the porch, he said, “I love him. I mean, he’s my dad. I’d like to know where he’s at.”

Henry Conley Fitchett Jr., 87, in an undated photo provided by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office on February 13, 2017

But just steps from where that interview took place, investigators found the body of Henry Conley Fitchett during a search of the home a few days later.

Investigators said in a probable cause document released Friday that Ed Fitchett’s stepson called police on January 29 after “getting a confusing story” from Ed about where Conley was.

Ed told his stepson Conley was with Ed’s brother John. The stepson called his mother’s previous caregiver, who said Ed said Conley went to live with his other son, John, in La Grande.

But John told police he hadn’t seen Conley for 3 years and last spoke with him in late 2015.

Investigators also spoke with the landlord of the mobile home park where the Fitchetts lived and saw a note from Ed that said Conley left to live with his other son, John, in March 2016.

Ed was in charge of Conley’s money, including about $2000 per month in PERS and Social Security payments. Ed eventually admitted to police he was using some of that money to buy things on Amazon and for bills.

On February 16, investigators searched Fitchett’s mobile home and found the elderly man naked inside a vacuum-sealed bag in the freezer. Ed allegedly admitted he put his father’s body in the freezer but didn’t provide other details.