Published May 6, 2016
FARMINGTON — Ashlynne Mike’s little white casket was placed in the center of the Farmington Civic Center stage Friday morning surrounded with colorful, bright flowers.
With a slide show of pictures of her playing the xylophone, as well as her artwork she had drawn, her family stood up and spoke about their unique and talented daughter and sister.
“How do I begin a farewell, when I still can’t believe you’re gone,” said Pamela Foster as she gave her daughter’s eulogy. “Our little Angel, whose life was short-lived.
However, her beauty and magic will linger forever in our hearts and in those for whom she’s touched.”
Before the beginning of the services it was announced that there were 3,000 people waiting outside wanting to attend the service. Since it was first reported of Ashlynne’s abduction Monday, there had been a widespread support throughout the Navajo Nation and New Mexico to help find her. When it was reported Ashlynne’s body was found not far from the Shiprock Pinnacle the next day, an even greater amount of support came together to show their grief and outrage.
“I’m heartbroken as I stand here today,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez who spoke at Ashlynne’s funeral. “The many people who loved Ashlynne described her as fun loving and always smiling. She was kind and quiet. She would’ve gone on to make a much better place.”
Ashlynne’s untimely, tragic death had sparked the conversation as to why the Navajo Nation lacks an Amber Alert system that could’ve possibly help locate her a lot sooner after she and her younger brother Ian Mike were abducted.
Tom Begaye Jr., 27, of Waterflow, N.M., was later arrested in connection with the abduction.
As he spoke about his little sister, Ryan Begay said when he heard about Ashlynne’s disappearance he drove to the Shiprock Pinnacle with a friend and searched for her. He said he had reported Ashlynne’s disappearance at 10:30 p.m. but the alert didn’t go out until 2:30 a.m. the next morning.
“I wish this alert went out sooner when I called it,” said Ryan Begay. “That night I heard she was kidnapped, I spent a long time at the pinnacle driving late at night. I needed help. I thought that there would be a lot more people out there.”
Aside from the family’s disappointment in the lack of response from authorities they also spoke emotionally on the kind of little girl Ashlynne was. Her older sister Brittany Begay, said Ashlynne was a talented artist.
It was mentioned how much the fifth-grade student from Ojo Amarillo Elementary loved playing the xylophone and piano, and was a gifted student having made student of the month numerous of times and had near perfect attendance.
“She was such a sweet, funny little sister,” said Brittany. “She was so creative. She would sit by me and watch me as I draw and try to mimic it…sometimes I would get our art work confused because she was that good.”
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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