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Man charged with aggravated murder after Utah woman found dead in remote area

stevie wilkerson st george pd.PNG

A 30-year-old man is facing several felony charges, including aggravated murder, in the death of a Utah woman, whose remains were found in a remote area of Iron County two months ago. (Photo: St. George PD){ }

A 30-year-old man is facing several felony charges, including aggravated murder, in the death of a Utah woman, whose remains were found in a remote area of Iron County two months ago.

Joseph Edward Fought was charged in the Fifth District Court with aggravated murder, capital offense; kidnapping, a second-degree felony; purchase, transfer, possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony; receiving or transferring a stolen motor vehicle, a second-degree felony, court documents state.

The body of 26-year-old Stevie Shay Wilkerson was found in a remote area of western Iron County on Sunday, Aug. 23, according to the sheriff's office. She was last seen leaving the Claridge Inn at 1187 S. Bluff St. in St. George on Aug. 9 and was later reported missing.

Police linked Fought to the crime through video surveillance footage and witness testimony.

A rented White Chevy Colorado was reported stolen out of Arkansas on Aug. 4. Five days later, the car was seen on surveillance video in St. George with Fought and 27-year-old Brittany Elizabeth Philips inside. It had also been seen parked at hotels and restaurants in Washington County during the days leading up to Aug. 9.

While pawning items at a local pawn shop in St. George, they reportedly said they were from Arkansas.

Court documents state that on Aug. 9, the pair drove the stolen truck to Iron County, where their cell phone location pinged near Kanarraville.

A witness told investigators that she, Fought and Philips drove to Cedar City on Aug. 9 and that they "transported a woman named Stevie Wilkerson in the truck."

Court documents state she confirmed that Wilkerson was removed from the truck and left near the city of Enterprise. Wilkerson's body was later found on Aug. 23 in Iron County near the location described by the witness.

Investigators also found video surveillance footage that shows Fought, Wilkerson, and Philips inside the truck. They did not specify the date when the video was captured.

Court documents state Fought and Philips both have an extensive criminal history, including Fought's convictions for robbery with dangerous weapon and warrants out of the state of Arkansas for Phillips.

Fought and Phillips were arrested in Barstow, California at a local motel on Aug. 30 and are awaiting extradition back to Utah. They are considered to be an extreme flight risk, according to charging documents.

Authorities are asking they be held without bail.

Fought is facing life in prison without parole or an indeterminate prison term of no less than 25 years for the aggravated murder charge, a capitol offense.

Individuals charged in complaints are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.