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Vanderwagon man accused of hitting, choking girlfriend


A Vanderwagen, New Mexico, man is facing assault charges in federal district court in Prescott for hitting and strangling his girlfriend just hours after a memorial service for his grandmother.

Lionel Shorty, no age given, was charged with assault by strangulation and assault with a deadly weapon. He is currently being held in custody by the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Prescott.

According to court records, Navajo Police were contacted by Shorty’s mother, identified as A.S., shortly before noon on March 1 reporting a possible stabbing. She said it occurred at her trailer, which was located near Ganado Lake.

Three police units, as well as an FBI agent who was nearby when the call came in, arrived at the trailer to find that both A.B. and O.B., Shorty’s girlfriend, were not at the trailer.

The only person in the trailer was Shorty who was detained and later arrested. When police got there, they found him wearing a pocket-size knife around his neck.

After a brief investigation, police learned that A.B. had taken O.B. to Sage Memorial Hospital in Ganado. O.B. was interviewed later that day by a Navajo Police investigator and the FBI agent. She was interviewed in the hospital’s emergency ward.

She said she and Shorty had lived together for about three years and had spent the previous three days at his mother’s house in order to attend his grandmother’s memorial service, which was held on the morning of March 1.

On the day before, his relatives had gotten together and the next day Shorty was complaining that he had overheard some of his relatives talking negatively about him.

Shorty and his girlfriend were in the bedroom and Shorty, she said, was still upset about what he had overheard. She said she told him to let it go and be calm.

Shorty apparently thought his girlfriend was mad at him so he pushed her. O.B. said she pushed him back.

She said Shorty then hit her in the face several times with his fist, one after the other. She said she tried to fight back but Shorty forced her to the floor and continued to strike her in the face.

She was finally able to escape and crawled to the hallway. Shorty followed her.

She was on her back, she said, and Shorty put his hands around her neck and began to squeeze her to the point she couldn’t breathe and was close to passing out. He backed off and then attempted to sit on her chest.

She said she fought back and started kicking. It was during this time, she said, that Shortly grabbed her hair and tore out a lock of hair.

The attack continued, she said, and he got a 2’x4’ piece of wood and started hitting her with it as she covered her face with her hands.

After striking her several times with the piece of wood, he pulled out his knife and threatened to kill her. She managed to crawl away and went to the living room where she found A.S. calling the police.

Shorty left and came back a few minutes later and told his mother to transport O.B. to Burnside to meet her sister.

She said that this was not the first time that Shorty had hit her to this degree. She said it happened three other times during their relationship.

Doctors at Sage Memorial reported she was treated for numerous bruises and lacerations to her neck and face and injuries to her left arm resulting from using it to protect her face as she was being struck by the 2’x4’.

About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan wrote about Navajo Nation government and its people since 1971. He joined Navajo Times in 1976, and retired from full-time reporting in 2018 to move to Torrance, Calif., to be near his kids. He continued to write for the Times until his passing in August 2022.


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