Federal agents in New Mexico have arrested a man in connection with the kidnapping and murder of an 11-year-old Navajo girl.
27-year-old Tom Begaye was arrested by FBI agents and is scheduled to appear before a U.S. magistrate on Wednesday.
The victim, 11-year-old fifth-grader Ashlynne Mike, was found dead less than 24 hours after she was reported missing Monday.
Her body was found on Tuesday morning near a rock formation that the town was named after. Police haven’t yet said how the little girl died.
Ashlynne and her brother, 9-year-old Ian Mike, were kidnapped Monday afternoon after getting off the bus returning home from school.
He’d reportedly told them he’d take them to a movie.
Ian got into Begaye’s van with his sister because he didn’t want her going alone.
Ian told Shiprock cops that Begaye then took him and his sister toward the Shiprock Monument, but they came to a dead end, where Begaye then let him out and told him to go home.
He watched Begaye and his sister go into the hills, but Begaye came back alone. Ian then ran two miles to the highway where he was picked up.
Around 7:15 p.m. on Monday, the young boy was found by a driver just south of the Shiprock Monument. He was alone and unhurt and was taken to the police.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade added that Begaye was likely alone during the kidnapping, and agents were unsure if he was related to Ashlynne.
“We were very hopeful that we would find her in good shape,” Jesse Delmar, the tribe’s public safety division director said. “We found her, but it didn’t turn out well.”
Tribal police faced harsh criticism for their delay in issuing the Amber Alert which came several hours after the incident had been reported.
After her body was found, San Juan Chapter President Rick Nez said, “The Navajo Nation, they are always slow to respond,” he told a newspaper. “As soon as the child was abducted, they should have put out the Amber Alert.”
The FBI is asking anyone with information to call the FBIâ€™s Albuquerque office at 505-889-1300.