Shock waves are being felt in the tiny town of Phoenix, Oregon where a local girl is being charged with a crime spree which includes theft and murder.
Samantha Shilts, 21, along with her boyfriend Tyler Mark Pierce, 21, were arrested in California in connection with the murder of Jakir Mohammed Sheikh who was found dead on January 19 in the Raeford Inn Motel in Raeford, North Carolina in a room that had been rented to the couple.
An investigation determined Sheikh had been strangled to death. His car was reported
stolen, and the two were seen driving the car when pulled over in Ohio. The police
officer in Ohio had not known that the two were wanted for murder and theft. They were later picked up in Sacramento, California.
Still, many of Shilts friends stand by the young woman. Mariah Cox, the sister-in-law of Shilts claims, “We don’t know the story” Cox is not convinced that Shilts was involved at all. She believes that Shilts and her 19-month-old son were being forced to go with Pierce against their will.
Shilts is being held in the Sacramento County Jail for the next 30 days. She is due to be extradited to North Carolina to face the charges of first-degree murder and robbery. In the meantime,
Cox says she’ll be visiting Shilts as often as she can in the Sacramento County Jail. Cox is e-mailing Shilts and encouraging others to send letters of support. Inmates may receive email while under detainment according to the Sacrament Sheriff website. The inmates may be able to read the emails, but they may not always be allowed to reply. Cox is also taking letters and positive reinforcement notes to Shilts in jail. Cox posted on Facebook that if anyone would like to send Shilts a letter, they
can inbox her and she will send them the mailing address to reach Shilts. Cox is requesting positive letters.
Cox is not alone in her support of Shilts. On her Facebook page many friends express doubt that Shilts was a co-conspirator of the murder and robbery. Her Facebook news feed has been filling with words of encouragement.
While reviewing the previous news articles release by many different local stations, there is little to no mention of her son. In contacting Cox, she said that her son is with Child protective Services and family is driving down to be with him. There are a large number of inquiries regarding her son.
After Cox’s first visit to Shilts, she claims the young mother’s main concern is for her son. Many of her local friends are planning to send her letters and photos of her son. It has not been reported that he has been brought back to Southern Oregon, but that he is in safe custody in the Sacramento area.
Cox asks that if you know Samantha Shilts or her son, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. While Cox focus appears to be primarily on Shilts she did express sympathy for the family of the victim as well.