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CCSO Locates A Murder Victim From Oregon Near Flagstaff

Benjamin Mota Booking Photo 4.26.21

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Coconino County Sheriff’s deputies found a murder victim Tuesday near Flagstaff. Detectives received information from the Milwaukie Police Department in Oregon that 38-year-old Melisa Rose Wheeler had been traveling with a man last known to be in the Flagstaff area. Deputies responded to an area of Forest Service Road 776 off Highway 89, north of Fernwood. Authorities talked to campers and handed out fliers trying to find the two. One camper recognized the man and woman and told them where they were. Deputies came upon the camping site and found Wheeler dead. She was last known to be traveling with 51-year-old Benjamin Mota, who had returned to Oregon with Wheeler’s vehicle. He was taken into custody on unrelated charges. Mota has now been charged with second degree murder in connection with Wheeler’s death and is being held on a million dollars bond.