N.M. man faces federal charges related to Navajo woman’s disappearance 2 years ago
04/05/2023 12:11 pm PDT
PHOENIX (TCD) -- A 23-year-old man from New Mexico was recently indicted by a federal grand jury for his involvement in the disappearance of a 64-year-old woman from the Navajo Nation in Arizona.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that Ella Mae Begay vanished from her home in Sweetwater, Arizona, on June 15, 2021. Federal officials said she was last seen by her family, and her Ford F-150 was possibly driving toward Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Nearly two years after her disappearance, on March 14, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said Preston Henry Tolth was indicted in connection with the case, on charges of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury.
Federal prosecutors alleged that on the day of her disappearance, Tolth "assaulted the victim," and he "took the victim’s Ford F-150, and transported it across state lines, with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to the victim."
If convicted for assault resulting in serious bodily injury, Tolth faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. For the charge of carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury, Tolth faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 if convicted.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino said, "This indictment is an important first step in determining the truth about what happened to an elderly victim on the Navajo Nation."
Restaino continued, "The indictment charges the defendant with carjacking and assault; the investigation is ongoing."
According to KSAZ-TV, Begay remains missing, and the search for her continues.
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