SHIPROCK, N.M. – The man charged with abducting and killing a girl from New Mexico’s Navajo Nation gave investigators a chilling account of her final hours.
Tom Begaye, 27, said he saw 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike playing with her younger brother Monday in the Lower Fruitland area and offered them a ride, according to a criminal complaint.
Ashlynne’s 9-year-old brother told detectives Begaye drove them toward Shiprock Pinnacle, located along a desolate, high desert plain on Navajo Nation land. Begaye, carrying a tire iron, allegedly took his sister out of the vehicle and walked her away from the car and out of the boy’s sight, according to KOB-TV.
During questioning, Begaye said he stopped the vehicle after Ashlynne started crying and walked her to an isolated area behind a hill. He admitted to sexually assaulting her before hitting her with the tire iron until she stopped moving, according to the document.
Begaye returned, alone, and drove Mike’s brother a short distance away before telling him to get out of the vehicle, the boy told authorities. A driver found him walking alone around 7:15 p.m.
Around 2 a.m. Tuesday, police issued an Amber Alert for the missing girl, and search parties worked through the dark, early-morning hours to locate her.
Around 11:30 a.m., investigators found her body roughly six miles south of the Shiprock Pinnacle. She had signs of blunt force trauma to her head, according to police. Detectives linked her death to Begaye after receiving tips from two alleged witnesses, and found him in a sweat lodge outside of Shiprock.
An angry crowd waited for Begaye outside a federal courthouse in Albuquerque, where he was charged with one count of murder and two counts of kidnapping.
He faces a minimum 20 years in prison; the maximum sentence is life behind bars.