Oregon woman found dead at Arizona campsite; Suspect jailed


Melisa Rose Wheeler, 38, was found dead

Benjamin Mota was arrested in Clackamas County, accused of a homicide at a campsite in Arizona, April 28, 2021 (Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Flagstaff, FB page)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a woman has been found dead at a northern Arizona campsite and an Oregon man she was travelling with has been arrested.

Coconino County Sheriff’s officials say they were notified Tuesday by police in Milwaukie, Oregon about a possible missing and endangered woman who may be in the Flagstaff area. Sheriff’s deputies began contacting campers and handing out flyers of Benjamin Mota and 38-year-old Melisa Rose Wheeler, both from Oregon.

They say one camper recognized the woman and identified the couple’s camping location, but Wheeler was found dead. They say Mota returned to Oregon in the victim’s vehicle.

Mota was arrested in Clackamas County on unrelated charges, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said.

He’s being held on a $1 million cash bond on suspicion of second-degree murder as he awaits extradition to northern Arizona.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.

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