Man arrested in connection with 11-year-old's killing in New Mexico

(New Mexico State Police via AP)


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FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 27-year-old man in the abduction and death of an 11-year-old Navajo girl in northwestern New Mexico.

The FBI says Tom Begaye of Waterflow, New Mexico, was arrested Tuesday evening.

The agency says that Begaye was arrested in connection with the abduction and death of Ashlynne Mike.

Begaye is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Paul Briones in Farmington on Wednesday.

Authorities say Ashlynee was lured into a maroon van Monday after school, and her younger brother went along.

The boy was found later Monday after running to a local highway, and a frantic search for Ashlynne ensured. Her body was found Tuesday in a remote area south of the Shiprock monument.

"We were very hopeful that we would find her in good shape," said Jesse Delmar, a public safety director for the Navajo Nation. "We found her but it didn't turn out well."

The search for the girl included federal, tribal, state and county officers on the ground as well as a New Mexico State Police helicopter. About 70 or 80 residents also fanned out across the area where the girl was found, said Graham Biyaal, who helped organized the community search.

Delmar said Ashlynne's body was found in a secluded area near a distinct rock formation that the town of Shiprock is named for.

The girl lived in the vast reservation's San Juan Chapter — a rural, close-knit community that has been on edge since word began to spread that the girl was missing.

She was a fifth-grader at Ojo Amarillo Elementary School in Fruitland, New Mexico, and had been to school Monday, said James Preminger, a spokesoman for the school district.

A local radio station alerted residents in the rural area to the abduction and gave a description of the suspect's vehicle, San Juan Chapter manager Stanley Wauneka said.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has pledged state resources to help with the criminal case.

Navajo Nation President has called for prayers and sympathy for Ashlynne's family. Candlight vigils are scheduled Tuesday evening.

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Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Arizona, and Hudetz reported from Albuquerque. Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed to this report from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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This story has been corrected to show Ashlynne Mike's name was misspelled Ashlynn.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos

Felicia Fonseca
    Mary Hudetz

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