Missing Oregon woman found dead in woods near Flagstaff
FLAGSTAFF - Law enforcement officers found the body of a missing Oregon woman in the Fernwood area near Flagstaff April 27, according to the Coconino County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).
The Sheriff's Office received information from Milwaukie Police Department in Oregon of a possible missing and endangered female traveling with a male subject last known to be in the Flagstaff area.
Working with the Milwaukie Police Department, CCSO detectives were able to pinpoint a possible location, Forest Service Road 776 off Highway 89, north of Fernwood, where the couple may have been camping.
Deputies responding to the area began contacting campers and handing out flyers identifying the pair. From the flyer, a camper recognized the female and identified a camping location where the pair were last seen. When officers investigated the location, the body of a deceased female was found. The female victim has been identified as Melisa Rose Wheeler, 38, of Oregon.
Wheeler was last known to be traveling with Benjamin Mota, a resident of Oregon, on vacation. Mota returned to Oregon in the victim’s vehicle where he was taken into custody on unrelated charges. Evidence gathered during the initial investigation resulted in a 2nd degree homicide warrant for Mota’s arrest. Extradition efforts will be pursued. Mota is currently being held on a $1 million cash bond.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Milwaukie Police Department, the Coconino County Attorney’s Office and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office for their assistance and efforts during this investigation.
The investigation is ongoing by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office. No other information is available at this time.
Information provided by Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.
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