BAXTER COUNTY, Ark. — (News release) Two men have been charged with murder and battery following an investigation into a citizen tip of human remains being in the Norfork area near the White River that were said to be those of a man reported missing to the Mountain Home Police Department on September 17, 2019. This man’s mother stated she had not had any contact at all with him since April, 2019.
Investigators from Mountain Home PD began working the missing person case with limited results until December 5, 2019 when they received a call from a concerned citizen purportedly having information that the missing person was deceased and that his body was somewhere in the Norfork area. The concerned citizen provided sufficient names and information that allowed investigators to conduct several interviews and gather more facts that pointed to persons of interest.
The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office had previously investigated a burglary that occurred at a residence on property near Norfork. During the burglary investigation, personal property was found at the scene that was later determined to belong to one of the persons who had been developed as a person of interest in the missing person case.
Acting on these leads, the Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, December 17th, began searching an area of property on Windswept Trail in the Norfork area close to the White River looking for human remains. A search warrant for the property was obtained from a Circuit Judge after preliminary observations made that morning from a helicopter and ground crew.
Sheriff’s Investigators located and recovered the remains, which consisted of partial skeletal remains and personal articles. The remains were tentatively verified as human, and it was later confirmed through forensic testing that the remains were those of a 20 year old male victim, Tyler Wade Pickett, who had been reported missing to Mountain Home PD last September.
While the search was being conducted, investigators were interviewing one of the persons of interest that had been developed, being 37-year-old Jeffery Scott Shepherd of Mountain Home. Shepherd told investigators during this interview that he had gone to the property in question on June 27, 2019 and met up with James Edward Tyler Davis and the victim. Shepherd admitted that within minutes of arriving at this location, he struck the victim in the head with his fist, knocking him unconscious and then kicking him on the ground. Shepherd then stated that once the victim was unconscious that Davis brandished a .22 caliber rifle. Shepherd and Davis walked the victim over to a rubbish pile nearby where the victim was then shot multiple times. Shepherd and Davis then walked away and left the victim there.
A female witness told investigators she had gone to the property with Davis and the victim in her vehicle. 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. When she later awoke, she realized that the victim was no longer present and asked Davis where the victim was. Davis allegedly replied, “he’s dead, don’t worry about him, and they will never find the body or the gun”.
All evidence was provided to and reviewed with the Prosecuting Attorney, who has filed charges against both Davis and Shepherd each for:
- Murder in the First Degree – Class Y Felony
- Battery in the First Degree – Class B Felony
Shepherd is in custody in the Baxter County Detention Center. He will appear before the Circuit Court to answer later this month, during which time the determination of bond may be taken up.
Davis is currently in custody at the Benton County Detention Center in Bentonville on unrelated charges. He will be transported to Baxter County to answer these charges at a later date.
The investigation remains active and ongoing at this time.
Agencies involved in the investigation are the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office, Mountain Home Police Department, Arkansas State Police, Baxter County Coroner’s Office, the Canine Team with the Arkansas Department of Corrections – North Central Unit, 14th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections.