Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Thu, Aug. 05

Update: Navajo Police Department continues search for Ella Mae Begay
Case officially transitioned to a homicide investigation

Searchers continue their efforts to locate missing Navajo elder Ella Mae Begay. (Photo/NPD)

Searchers continue their efforts to locate missing Navajo elder Ella Mae Begay. (Photo/NPD)


SHIPROCK, N.M. -- Navajo Police Department Shiprock District continues search operations in the search for Ella Mae Begay.

On June 20, 2021, the case regarding missing person Ella Mae Begay was officially transitioned to a homicide investigation.

Currently, the investigation is being conducted by the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In addition, NPD and our partners also remain committed to finding Ella Mae, and will implement a weekend search operation this weekend in our collective efforts to bring much-needed resolution to the family of Ella Mae Begay.

Today, search teams are in the Thoreau, New Mexico area and will return back the Sweetwater, Arizona this weekend. The overall investigation continues with our law enforcement partners. Anyone with information is asked to continue to call the Shiprock District at 505-368-1350 or 505-368-1351.

SHIPROCK, N.M. — Search efforts continued into the third day in search of Ella Mae Begay, in Sweetwater, Arizona. On June 17, a person of interest identified as Preston Tolth was arrested on Navajo Nation charges for an unrelated battery on a family member and was held at the Crownpoint Department of Corrections.

Tolth was also found to have outstanding warrants with the Farmington Police Department which resulted in extradition orders being approved by the Navajo Nation. Tolth is expected to be transported to the San Juan County Corrections facility this evening.


Class 56 recruits in Sweetwater, Arizona on June 18. Recruits came to the community to assist with search efforts for Ella Mae Begay. (Photo/NPD)

He remains to be a person of interest in the disappearance of Ella Mae Begay. The Navajo Police Department Criminal Investigations, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, continues to follow leads in regards to the overall investigation in the disappearance of Ella Mae Begay.

On June 18, a new grid search of the area was conducted in the Sweetwater, Arizona community, with aerial support from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The search also includes numerous community members, the Division of Public Safety personnel, and search groups.

The Navajo Police Department continues to ask the public for their assistance in locating Ella Mae Begay and her vehicle, a silver 2005 Ford F150 bearing Arizona license plate AFE 7101.

Anyone who has any information regarding Ella Mae Begay’s whereabouts or has seen her vehicle, please call the Navajo Police Department Shiprock District at 505-368-1350, 505-368-1351, or 9-1-1.

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