1st homicide of 1012

Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Jan. 12, 2012

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A A Fort Defiance man became the first homicide victim of the year just hours after 2012 began.

The victim was identified as Rodney Haskie, 29.

Navajo Nation Police in Window Rock received a phone call about 9:38 a.m. Jan. 1 saying a man was lying on the ground in a ditch south of Pigeon Springs Housing in Tse Bonito, N.M.

When police arrived on the scene, they discovered that the man was unresponsive.

A preliminary investigation revealed that Haskie had died of a gunshot wound and had been left at the scene. Further investigations revealed that Haskie had attended a party and was last seen between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Jan. 1.

The case is under investigation of the FBI and the Navajo Police Department's Department of Criminal Investigations.

2 die in rollover

Two people died as a result of a one-vehicle rollover that occurred in Fruitland, N.M., on Dec. 28.

The victims were identified as Dion Lyn Holgate, 23, of Shiprock and Corey Ironshield, 24, of Hogback.

When police arrived on the scene one mile north of the overpass on the APS road they were told that Ironshield had been flown out earlier and that the other victim, Holgate, had died at the scene. Ironshield was later pronounced dead at the San Juan Medical Center in Farmington.

An investigation revealed that the vehicle the two were in was traveling at a high rate of speed over the dirt road. The speed caused the driver to cross the center lane and drive off the road.

The driver managed to get back on the road but he was still unable to control the car and as a result, he overcorrected and drove off the other side of the road, resulting in the car skidding and then rolling over four times, ejecting both men.

Police said they have not been able to determine for sure which man was the driver.

6-year-old hit by car

A six year-old child was hit and injured by a car on the Sundance Road in Church Rock, N.M., on Sunday.

The accident, which was on reservation land, was investigated by the McKinley County Sheriff's Office since there were no Navajo units available at the time.

The victim was walking by the road when, according to the driver of the vehicle, she ran into the roadway. One car was able to swerve and miss the victim but the second car did not.

The victim was transported to the Gallup Indian Medical center, along with her mother, Sheree Clark, no age or address given. The driver was not cited.

The exact nature of the victim's injuries was not noted but the incident report indicated it may have been head and shoulder injuries.

Standing Rock man accused of battery

Navajo police are investigating a battery complaint that was filed in December against Jarvis Chapo, 35, of Standing Rock, N.M.

The victim, Carmenlita Cohoe, 37, of Tohatchi, told her supervisor that she had been abused by Chapo over a two year period. She produced pictures of her injuries and said that on one occasion Chapo had struck her on her head with his elbow.

She said after being struck she began feeling weak and had a difficult time stopping the bleeding on her head. She added that Chapo refused to allow her to leave to get medical treatment.

She said that since then she has had a hard time hearing.

According to the incident report, no charges had been filed but her allegations are under investigation.

Cell phone found in bathroom

A case of voyeurism was originally investigated by the Navajo police but it was later turned over to the McKinley County Sheriff's Office because it occurred off reservation.

The report came to the Navajo police from officials at the Texaco Station in Tse Bonito, N.M., that a woman was upset there.

When police arrived, they discovered that the victim had been using the women's restroom and after using one of the handicapped stalls, she was washing her hands when she heard something fall.

She found that it was a cell phone that had been placed in the toilet paper dispensing rack. When she looked at it, she discovered that it had beem recording her when she was using the restroom.

Tribal police rewound the video and watched as it showed an employee at the gas station placing the cell phone on the rack.

The employee was turned over to the sheriff's office but according to their report, no arrests were made.

1st exposure death of 2012

Tribal police posted their first exposure death of the new year.

According to police, the body of John White, 73, of Sweetwater, Ariz., was found in a ditch north of the car wash on Ocean Boulevard in Shiprock.

The victim was cold to the touch and rigor mortis had already set in. There were no signs of foul play.

Steamboat man hit by car

A 60-year old Steamboat, Ariz., man died when he was struck by a car on State Highway 264 near Steamboat on Dec. 30.

Police said that they began receiving reports about 5:46 p.m. that the man, later identified as Irvin Smith, was walking in the middle of the roadway and had almost been stuck by other passing cars.

Ten minutes later, police received a call that the man had been stuck and died. When police arrived at the scene, they confirmed that Smith was dead.

Leupp school burglarized

Officials at the school in Leupp, Ariz., reported that someone had vandalized and burglarized the school buildings, stealing a computer and a camera.

The first report came to police about 3:30 a.m. on January 1. But tribal police said they couldn't send anyone at that time because they were investigating a report that someone was shooting off a firearm.

Later that morning, about 8 a.m., police received another call from school officials that a maintenance worker had found some glass on the ground and a broken window. A few minutes later, police received reports of numerous windows on the school complex being broken, again by unknown individuals.

Police said they have no suspects into the vandalism and the thefts.

10-year-old case solved

WINDOW ROCK - The Navajo Nation Police officially closed the case of Cecile Henry this week, almost 10 years after she was first reported missing.

Her mother, Virginia Silversmith, originally reported the 24-year-old Fort Defiance woman missing on March 15, 2002. She said the last time anyone had reported seeing her was Feb. 15, 2002, in the federal building in Gallup.

For years, the family wondered what had happened to her, unaware that her body had been turned over to the medical examiner's office on Feb. 15, 2002, the unidentified victim of a head-on collision in San Juan County.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office handled that case and reported finding the body of a woman who had died in the accident in which one of the vehicles had ignited.

The body continued to be unidentified until sheriff's officials began wondering if the missing woman could be the unidentified woman in the 2002 crash. In November 2010, the sheriff's office and the Navajo police worked together and got DNA samples from family members for testing.

This week, nearly 10 years after her death, the results came back showing a match, and the mystery of Cecile Henry's fate was solved.

Not so happy New Year's Eve

If this happened in a city, it would probably go down as an attempted home invasion.

On Dec. 31, Terrain Dance, 30, of Hovenweep, Utah, reported that he was in his travel trailer with his three children, all under age 3, when a stranger started pounding on the door and yelling profanities.

Dance told police he yelled at the person twice to stop and go away but he refused. The man finally busted a window and Dance said he was forced to shoot the man in the leg.

The man was later identified as Erwin Jones, 22, of Hovenweep. He was taken to the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock for treatment.

Alcohol involved in U.S. 491 fatality

A head-on collision on U.S. 491 took the life of a Naschitti, N.M., man on Dec. 30.

Navajo police said Marcellino Morris, 60, was traveling southbound about 10 miles north of Tohatchi, N.M., when a car driven by Andy Ray Denny, 23, of Cottonwood, Ariz., moved into his lane and struck his car on the left front end.

Denny was charged with several offenses, including DWI.

Ganado man stabbed

Andrew Harding, 23, of Ganado, Ariz., was dropped off at Sage Memorial Hospital in Ganado on Nov. 26, suffering from several stab wounds, according to a police report made public this week.

Harding was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment.

Police said the suspect in this case - Orlando Earle, 32, of Ganado - was being sought.

Klagetoh man killed

A one-vehicle accident on Christmas Day claimed the life of a Klagetoh, Ariz., man.

Police said Waylon Curley, 42, was driving east on State Route 397 near milepost 397 when he lost control of the vehicle on a downgrade.

The vehicle swerved sideways and hit an embankment, causing the car to roll over and ejecting Curley and a passenger. There were no details as to the injuries or the name of the passenger.

Ladies, alcohol don't mix in Sanders

Navajo police are investigating the assault of a Sanders, Ariz., woman by another Sanders woman on Dec. 26.

There were no details of what prompted the assault but police said Samantha Tapaha, 24, reportedly received severe head injuries in an attack by Lydia Romero, 35. Tapaha was taken to Gallup Indian Medical Center for treatment and Romero was arrested for aggravated battery.

Alcohol was a contributing factor in this incident, according to police.

Former Navajo officer indicted

ALBUQUERQUE - A federal grand jury in Albuquerque on Dec. 28 indicted a former police officer with the Navajo Police Department on charges related to the sexual abuse of a woman who was in his custody Jan. 25, 2009, announced the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lawrence Etsitty Jr., 30, was charged in count one of the indictment with violating the civil rights of the victim when he groped, touched and kissed her against her will, while she was restrained in handcuffs. Count 2 of the indictment charges Etsitty with making false statements to the FBI.

Anyone with information regarding this matter is encouraged to call the FBI at 505-889-1300.

Woman dies in Jemez assault

ALBUQUERQUE - On Jan. 3, FBI special agents arrested Gavin Yepa, 26, of Jemez Pueblo, for sexual assault resulting in death, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Yepa is charged with killing Lynette Becenti, a 38-year-old Navajo woman, during a sexual assault at Yepa's Jemez Pueblo residence on the night of Dec. 29.

According to the criminal complaint, Yepa allegedly met Becenti in San Ysidro, N.M., earlier that evening, and drove her to his residence with the hope of having sex with her. Shortly before midnight, he flagged down tribal officials and reported that there was a woman in his home who was not breathing.

When Yepa escorted the officers into his residence, the officers observed a large amount of blood on the floor extending through several rooms, including a bedroom where they saw Becenti's nude body smeared with blood from head to toe.

Tribal officials notified the FBI and it initiated an investigation.

Preliminary findings of an autopsy performed Dec. 30, revealed that Becenti died due to internal hemorrhaging caused by approximately 15 inches of vaginal penetration that extended from the opening of the vagina to the diaphragm. The autopsy also confirmed trauma to the anus and rectum.

If convicted of this offense, Yepa faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Repeat sex offender facing life

PHOENIX - On Dec. 23, Darren Quesada, 44, of Whiteriver, Ariz., was found guilty of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and abusive sexual contact with a minor, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

A federal jury in Prescott, Ariz., found him guilty of sexually abusing two children in 2009 and 2010. The jury also made special findings that the defendant was previously convicted of a federal sex offense involving a minor in 1997. As a result of that offense he entered into a plea agreement in May 2000 and was required to register as a sex offender.

A conviction for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor with a prior conviction for a federal sex offense involving a minor carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

Dann pleads guilty to pill theft

Guilty plea in rescription pill case

ALBUQUERQUE - Charlton Dann, 27, of Shiprock, pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to possession of hydrocodone with intent to distribute, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

On Aug. 29, Dann, who was then employed at a Farmington area pharmacy, was involved in an automobile collision. During the investigation of the collision, officers found two pharmacy pill bottles containing a variety of prescription pills in Dann's vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint, Dann admitted taking the pills from the pharmacy at which he was employed.

He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and four years of supervised release.

Haley pleads guilty to assault

ALBUQUERQUE - Steven Haley, 22, of Dolores, Colo., pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to an assault resulting in serious bodily injury charge, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Haley pleaded guilty to shooting another Navajo man with a rifle at a residence near Red Rock, N.M., on March 5, following a dispute between the two the previous evening. According to Haley's plea agreement, he returned to the site to retrieve his cell phone, but brought a rifle, which he used to shoot at the door when not permitted to enter.

The bullet traveled through the door and struck the victim in the head causing him serious bodily damage.

Haley's guilty plea requires him to serve seven years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release.

Zuni pedophile sentenced

ALBUQUERQUE - Linden Troy Qualo, 28, of the Pueblo of Zuni, was sentenced Jan. 5 to three years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for sexually abusing a minor, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Qualo pleaded guilty to sexually violating a child under 16 in January 2010.

He will be required to register as a sex offender after completing his prison sentence.

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