Two men have been charged with murder after remains found in the Norfork area were identified as those of Tyler Wade Pickett, 20, who was reported missing Sept. 17, according to a news release from Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery.
Jeffery Scott Shepherd, 37, of Mountain Home, and James Edward Tyler Davis, 26, of Norfork, face first-degree murder charges in addition to battery counts, according to the release. The murder charges weren't listed on Court Connect, the state's online court filing system, as of Thursday afternoon.
Investigators from the Mountain Home Police Department began working on a missing-person case after being informed by Pickett's mother that she hadn't had any contact with her son since April, according to the release.
Investigators received a tip on Dec. 5 that Pickett was dead, and his body was in the Norfork area, according to the news release. The caller provided names and information that allowed police to conduct more interviews, which helped them develop people of interest, according to Montgomery.
On Dec. 17, the sheriff's office searched property on Windswept Trail in the Norfork area close to the White River.
"A search warrant for the property was obtained from a circuit judge after preliminary observations made that morning from a helicopter and ground crew," according to the release.
As a result, a partial skeleton and personal items were found at the scene, Montgomery wrote. The human remains were confirmed through forensic testing to be those of Pickett, according to the release.
While the search was being conducted, investigators interviewed Shepherd. According to the release, Shepherd told police that he had gone to the property June 27, where he met up with Davis and Pickett. Shepherd told police that he struck and kicked Pickett, and that Davis brandished a .22-caliber rifle and Pickett was shot several times, reports said.
A witness told investigators that she had gone to the property with Davis and Pickett in her vehicle, according to Montgomery.
"She stated she was given narcotics by Davis prior to the arrival of Shepherd and had passed out and was not coherent during the time that Shepherd was there," according to the release.
When she awoke, she realized that Pickett was no longer there and asked Davis where he was, the release said.
"Davis allegedly replied, 'He's dead. Don't worry about him, and they will never find the body or the gun,'" according to the news release.
Court Connect shows that Shepherd was charged Dec. 23 with battery in an incident that occurred on or around June 27.
Shepherd told police on Dec. 17 that he struck "the victim" in the jaw hard enough to knock him unconscious, according to an affidavit for probable cause in the battery case. Pickett's name isn't mentioned in documents related to that case.
"Shepherd confirms that this battery was done without provocation," according to the affidavit.
Shepherd appeared Thursday in Baxter County Circuit Court. He pleaded innocent to the battery charge and has applied for a public defender, according to a judge's note in the online case file. Shepherd is scheduled to appear before Circuit Judge Gordon Webb on Jan. 16.
Shepherd is being held in the Baxter County jail, and Davis is being held in the Benton County jail on unrelated charges, according to the news release.
Davis will be transported to Baxter County to answer the charges at a later date, according to Montgomery.
The investigation remains active and ongoing.
Pickett's Dec. 24 obituary in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette indicates that he was from Greenbrier.
"Tyler loved the outdoors, fishing, playing sports, riding horses and riding in the rodeo when he was younger," according to the obituary.
Metro on 01/03/2020