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2 suspected in homicide of Utah woman arrested in California, authorities say

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Updated - Sep. 15, 2020 at 1:49 p.m. | Posted - Sep. 15, 2020 at 12:50 p.m.



CEDAR CITY — Two people suspected in the homicide of a St. George woman whose body was discovered in Iron County last month have been arrested in California, authorities said Tuesday.

Brittany "Josie" Elizabeth Phillips, 27, of Missouri, and Joseph Edward Fought, 30, of North Carolina, were arrested in Barstow, California, on Aug. 31. They were named as suspects in the homicide of Stevie Shay Wilkerson, 26, whose body was discovered in western Iron County on Aug. 23, according to the Iron County Sheriff’s Office.

An arrest warrant for both Phillips and Fought was filed in Utah's 5th District Court for possession of a stolen vehicle, a second-degree felony, on Aug. 31, according to court documents. They were arrested shortly after by Barstow police and Iron County Sheriff’s detectives traveled to California to interview Phillips and Fought on Sept. 1, officials said Tuesday.

Wilkerson was reported missing after she was seen at a hotel in St. George on Aug. 9. Investigators determined that she died by homicide after her body was found two weeks later but have not released her cause of death.

The charging documents provide some new details in the investigation. According to the documents, Phillips and Fought were captured on video surveillance in St. George riding in a white Chevrolet Colorado on Aug. 9. The vehicle was reported stolen by a vehicle rental business in Arkansas on Aug. 4.

The two visited a St. George pawnshop that day before they traveled to Cedar City, according to a witness who told investigators they were with Fought and Phillips on the drive up to Iron County, the documents stated. The witness also told police they transported a woman, identified as Wilkerson, while in Cedar City.

Investigators located surveillance video showing Phillips, Fought and Wilkerson inside the truck at some point that day, according to the document.

The documents added that the witness told investigations that Wilkerson was "removed" from the truck near Enterprise, located southwest of Cedar City. It wasn't immediately clear if Wilkerson was alive or diseased at that point. Her body was located near the spot the witness described.

Both Phillips and Fought remained in California Tuesday and were awaiting extradition back to Utah for the felony stolen vehicle charge, officials said; additional charges are pending.

According to Aug. 31 charging documents, Phillips and Fought both have an "extensive criminal history" along the eastern U.S. The documents stated Fought had convictions for robbery with a dangerous weapon and Phillips had outstanding warrants in Arkansas. The documents didn't provide any information about how they came into contact with Wilkerson.

Wilkerson was described by family members in August as having "a big heart" and not having a "mean bone in her body."

“She was so kindhearted and loved all animals, big and small," her cousin, Angie Golish, said last month. "She dreamed of being a veterinarian growing up.”

Carter Williams

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