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Man Who Dumped Meshell Will’s Body in a National Forest Is Sentenced to Prison

The U.S. Forest Service’s website says “multiple-use Black Hills National Forest has an activity for everyone.” One activity/use that is definitely not sanctioned is dumping dead bodies. In 2013, Richard Schmitz (55) reportedly killed his girlfriend, Meshell Will, and left her body along a road in South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest for a visitor to find several days later.

A judge sentenced Schmitz to 10 years in prison on Friday.

Schmitz, who had a history of violence toward women, was first arrested for the crime in 2021. He took a plea deal in January shortly before his trial date for Meshell Will’s murder.

Meshell Will
Meshell Will. Image courtesy of CBS News

Last week, a judge gave him the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for second-degree murder. He has already served about 900 days of that sentence.

Will, who was 38 at the time of her death, was alive on August 23, 2013, when she and Schmitz checked into a motel in Keystone, S.D. The theory is that Schmitz killed her there, then disposed of her body in the national forest. Will was not wearing shoes or carrying personal belongings.

There were six cases of assault and domestic violence against Schmitz since 1999, reports local news outlet KELO, which the judge said is evidence that he is not safe to be among the public.

Though Schmitz has not confessed to the murder, local law officials feel there is finally justice in this 11-year-old cold case.

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