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Jackson County pair jailed for murder of North Carolina motel manager

A pair of Jackson County residents have been jailed in Northern California for the murder of a North Carolina motel manager and the theft of his car earlier this month.

Samantha Lynn Shilts, 21, of Medford, is being held in the Sacramento County Jail after her Monday night arrest by Sacramento police. Jail records show she is being held without bail on warrants and an extradition hold. Shilts' boyfriend, 21-year-old Tyler Mark Pierce of Phoenix, is being held without bail on a warrant in the Nevada County Jail in Truckee, Calif., after being arrested Monday afternoon by California Highway Patrol.

Both await extradition to Hoke County, N.C., to face charges of first-degree murder and robbery, according to a news release from the Hoke County Sheriff's Department.

The release said Jakir Mohammed Sheikh, 58, the manager of the Raeford Inn Motel in Raeford, N.C., was found dead Jan. 19 in a room Shilts and Pierce had rented. The couple's personal belongings were found in the room and there had been signs of a struggle, the release said. An investigation determined Sheikh had been strangled to death.

Sheikh was last seen by motel patrons Jan. 15 and was reported missing the following day. His car, a 2003 light-colored Dodge Stratus, was reported stolen. Hoke County sheriff's officials said the car had been pulled over by Ohio police at about 9 p.m. Jan. 16. Shilts and Pierce told the officer they had purchased the car and were on their way back to Oregon. 

Sheikh's brother was checking rooms at the motel Jan. 19 when he came across Sheikh's body in Room 14. Warrants for Shilts' and Pierce's arrest were issued Jan. 20.

Court records show Pierce has no previous criminal history in Oregon. Shilts has an open court case out of Josephine County alleging second-degree animal neglect, a misdemeanor, in July 2014, records show.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Tyler Pierce
Samantha Shilts