Murder suspects make court appearance

Photos: (from left) Jeffery Scott Shepherd and James Edward “Tyler” Davis

Two men charged with the murder of 20-year-old Tyler Wade Pickett of Mountain Home — whose remains were recently found on property in the Norfork area — appeared in Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.

Photo: Tyler Wade Pickett

Twenty-six-year-old James Edward “Tyler” Davis of Norfork and 37-year-old Jeffery Scott Shepherd of Mountain Home both entered not guilty pleas to first-degree murder and battery charges in connection with Pickett’s death.

They were given various reappearance dates on their cases in the coming months.

Both men appear to have led nomadic lives. Shepherd has listed addresses in Gassville, Salesville and Mountain Home. He has also used an Oklahoma driver’s license according to some court records.

Davis has either listed addresses or been in trouble in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Norfork; Judsonia; Bentonville and Izard County.

When Davis was in trouble in Oklahoma in 2018, he listed Norfork as his residence, but was driving a vehicle with a West Virginia license plate.

Prior to his body being found, Pickett’s mother was active on social media asking for help in finding her son. She said he had not been in contact with her since April 2019. Pickett had been officially reported missing to Mountain Home Police in September last year.

The mother recently announced the death of her missing child by posting on Facebook, “Tyler has been found. But, it wasn’t the outcome we were looking for.”

It has also been reported it was not unusual for Pickett to be out of touch with his family for short periods of time. His mother said, however, he had never been silent for months.

Officers had worked the missing person’s report without success for about three months.

In early December, the case heated up when a concerned citizen provided information that ultimately led to the discovery of the victim’s remains and the arrest of the two men allegedly involved in killing him.

The citizen told officers Pickett had been shot to death, and his body was located in the Norfork area.

In addition, the caller provided names and other information that enabled officers to conduct interviews with a number of people – leading to the identification of a person of interest.

A search warrant was obtained for property along Windswept Trail. A circuit judge authorized the warrant after being provided with preliminary information gathered from helicopter flights over the area, as well as from a ground crew.

Investigators found partial skeletal remains and personal items that led to the identification of the body as that of the missing man.

Officers first interviewed Shepherd and, according to Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, the Mountain Home man admitted he had gone alone to the property June 27 last year and met Davis, Pickett and a female who arrived in a separate vehicle.

Shepherd admitted shortly after all were at the site, he hit Pickett in the head with his closed fist, knocking him out. He was said to have also confessed to kicking Pickett in the ribs while he was on the ground.

After Pickett came to, Davis and Shepherd were reported to have walked him to a rubbish pile where Davis is alleged to have shot him multiple times with a .22-caliber rifle.

The two men departed the crime scene, leaving Pickett on the rubbish pile.

A female who had driven to the area with Davis and Pickett said Davis had given her narcotics, and she was passed out for most of the time in which the victim was attacked and killed.

She told investigators when she awoke and realized the victim was no longer with them, she asked Davis where he was. Davis was alleged to have responded, “He’s dead, don’t worry about him, and they will never find the body or the gun.”

Currently no information has been made available by investigators concerning connections between the victim and the others allegedly involved, or what might have led Davis and Shepherd to take Pickett’s life.

Davis — who has been in the Benton County jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm — lists an address along Windswept Trail in Norfork as his place of residence in court records in the Northwest Arkansas county.

Davis was brought from Benton County to Baxter County Jan. 3 for his appearance in circuit court Thursday. He was recently sentenced to five years in prison on drug-related charges in Benton County Circuit Court.

In addition to facing charges in the Pickett murder, a petition has been filed in a closed criminal case in which Shepherd pled guilty in November to taking two vehicles from the mother of his then girlfriend without permission.

The petition to revoke his probation in that case is based on him picking up new charges stemming from Pickett’s death.

He was sentenced to 12 months misdemeanor probation. The state dropped a more serious charge of theft of property in that case.

Shepherd entered a not true plea to his cases in which revocation petitions have been filed.

Shepherd also has a criminal case open in Baxter County in which he is charged with helping a fugitive — Kyle James Tilley — elude capture by law enforcement.

Tilley was found holed up in a room at a Mountain Home motel and arrested after being on the run for a short time.

The room had been rented for a two-night-stay in Shepherd’s name. Shepherd was picked up on surveillance cameras entering the motel with Tilley.

Shepherd entered a not guilty plea to the hindering charges in early November.

Tilley was given a 10-year prison sentence on a number of burglary and theft charges. He is an inmate in the Cummins Unit of the state prison system at Grady.

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