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Man Charged With Murdering An Oregon Woman Near Flagstaff Pleads Not Guilty

Benjamin Mota Booking Photo 4.26.21

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A man charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of an Oregon woman near Flagstaff back in April, has pleaded not guilty. Detectives received information from the Milwaukie Police Department in Oregon that 38-year-old Melisa Rose Wheeler had been traveling with 51-year-old Benjamin Mota, who were 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. Mota returned to Oregon with Wheeler’s vehicle. He was taken into custody there on unrelated charges. Mota was indicted by a grand jury on second-degree murder and credit card theft in connection with the death. He was extradited to Coconino County last month and is still being held on a million dollars bond.