A New Mexico man was arrested for abducting and murdering an 11-year-old Navajo girl whose body was discovered near the Shiprock pinnacle.
Tom Begaye Jr. faces charges of kidnapping and killing Ashlynne Mike. He appeared in court on Wednesday morning.
As reported by the Washington Post, Ashlynne and her 9-year-old brother Ian Mike had been dropped off by a school bus, making their way home, when a man in a red van pulled up and offered them a ride. While Ian did not want to go into the van, Ashlynne had hurt her foot. As the two children got in the van, the man told them he would show them a movie. He drove the van down a dirt road south of Navajo Route 13.
Ian told police that the man took his sister to a hill with a “curved piece of metal.” He returned then ordered Ian to get out of the vehicle. He then drove away. Looking in the darkness for his sister, he was seen by a passing motorist and was taken to the police.
At 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, an Amber Alert had been issued for the 11-year-old child, whose body was eventually discovered by family members at 11 a.m. near a dirt road south of the pinnacle.
The criminal complaint released by the United States Department of Justice alleged that Begaye said in his admission that he had sexually molested Ashlynne on Monday and beaten her with a tire iron before abandoning her to die in the desert. She was still moving when he left her.
According to the Daily Times, an unidentified individual informed a Navajo criminal investigator that he had noticed a maroon-colored van outside a sweat lodge near Shiprock. This van, the individual said, matched the description of the vehicle Ashlynne and her brother had been kidnapped in. Begaye was discovered in the sweat lodge, and Ian recognized Begaye as the kidnapper. He also recognized the van that he and his sister were taken in.
“We are still shocked,” a mother, who declined to provide her name, said. She said Ashlynne would play on the bridge after school while waiting for her siblings. “Something like that doesn’t happen here. That happens in a big city, but not here.”