Published May 4, 2016
FARMINGTON, NEW MEXICO — Tomas Begaye, 27, of Waterflow, New Mexico, was arrested yesterday and was in federal court this morning to face charges that he kidnapped and murdered Ashlynne Mike, 11, on Monday.
He is charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count of murder.
In a criminal complaint released by the U.S. Department of Justice today, Begaye admitted to law enforcement officers that he sexually assaulted the innocent 11-year-old Ashlynne before striking her at least two times in her head. He then left her to die in desert on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
The criminal complaint details the events leading up to Ashlynne’s death.
On Monday, May 2, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Ashlynne and her 9-year-old brother got off a school bus with an older sister and friend. Ashlynne and her brother lingered behind to play in an irrigation canal before they were to walk home. While playing in the irrigation canal, Ashlynne injured her foot. As they continued to play in the irrigation canal, Begaye drove up in a red van and offered to give the two children a ride home. With her foot hurting from the injury, the two accepted a ride.
The van then headed toward the Shiprock Pinnacle on Navajo Route 13 and then took a turn down a dirt road on the reservation.
Begaye then took Ashlynne out of the van, leaving her brother behind, and walked toward a hill. He then took Ashlynne behind the hill where he sexually assaulted her. He then hit her in the head with the tire iron twice.
Begaye told investigators that she was still moving as he returned to the van. He told Ashlynne’s brother to walk home.
The brother was able to flag down a car to give him a ride. The motorists gave him a ride to the police department.
Sadly, Ashlynne died and her body was discovered yesterday morning by a volunteer search group.
According to the brother, Begaye was a stranger to both he and Ashlynne.
Soon after separating from her siblings, Ashlynne’s older sister was approached by a man in a red van who offered her a ride home. She refused and he drove off.
On Tuesday afternoon, an unidentified tipster called Navajo Police to report a van fitting the description that was released to the media was parked outside a sweat lodge.
Law enforcement showed up and questioned Begaye who was inside the sweat lodge. Investigators took a photo of Begaye, who was identified by Ashlynne’s brother as being the man who abducted him and Ashlynne.
During questioning by law enforcement, Begaye admitted his actions that led to Ashlynne’s death.
After today’s hearing, Begaye was returned to jail where he is being held without bond and will be back in federal court on Friday for a preliminary hearing.