Salt Lake County Jail
Jeffery Ray Shepherd

SOUTH SALT LAKE — An off-duty police officer with sharp eyes led to the arrest of a man wanted in connection with the Easter Sunday killing of Matthew Holt.

Jeffery Ray Shepherd, 35, of Tooele, was arrested early Monday for investigation of murder, aggravated robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, and tampering with evidence.

Shepherd is accused of shooting and killing Holt, 46, of South Jordan, whose body was found inside his car in a parking lot of a closed business on April 16 near 3200 South and 900 West.

On that day, Shepherd demanded and took money from Holt, and then shot him, according to a Salt Lake County Jail booking report.

"He then picked up the spent shell casing from the scene, washed blood from his car, and disposed of the casing, gun and his clothing," the report states.

Details about whether Shepherd and Holt were previously acquainted, if the alleged robbery was random, or how it escalated into a shooting were not released Monday.

"I don't know what brought them together or what put them in that parking lot together," South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller said.

Holt's body was found by the store owner who was checking on his business that afternoon.

After the shooting, police released grainy surveillance video of people seen near the Jordan River Parkway Trail that day who they wanted to question. On Thursday, police announced they were looking for a silver Chevrolet Sonic hatchback with a model year between 2012 and 2016.

About 10 p.m. Sunday an off-duty South Salt Lake officer who lives in Tooele spotted a car that matched that description while driving around town, Keller said.

The officer followed the vehicle until it stopped at a house, and he called the Tooele County Sheriff's Office. Shepherd, the registered owner of the vehicle, was questioned.

South Salt Lake homicide detectives then were called to the scene to pick up the investigation and eventually arrested Shepherd.

The officer who spotted the vehicle hasn't been with the South Salt Lake Police Department very long, Keller said. But the detective praised the young patrol officer.

"What a great job. What diligence he had. We've been going all over the state trying to go through these cars and eliminate them one by one. But he had the insight and fortitude to follow it and make contact with (Shepherd)," he said.

According to Utah court records, Shepherd has a relatively minor criminal history of mostly traffic offenses and no felony arrests.

The arrest comes two days after Holt's family announced a $10,000 reward for information about the person responsible for killing their loved one.

Keller said there were no other reports of other robberies in their area on April 16, so he didn't know if Shepherd could possibly be tied to other crimes.

As to why Shepherd allegedly had to wash blood off his car and from his clothes, Keller said he did not know the positioning of the two vehicles in the parking lot or where Shepherd and Holt were positioned when Holt was shot.

Contributing: Peter Samore