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Canyon de Chelly man pleads guilty to murder


A Canyon de Chelly man, Roderrell Charley, agreed to plead guilty in federal district court in Prescott on June 15 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend in 2019.

Charley, 32, was facing life in prison but, per the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to a cap of 22 years.

According to court records, the badly beaten body of A.B. was found about a third of a mile from a home at Whitehouse Overlook where Charley was living alone.

One of A.B.’s relatives later said she saw Charley and A.B. walking toward the overlook. She said she stopped and talked to Charley but A.B. remained silent.

Later, other members of her family living in the area reported hearing them arguing. Tribal police were called that evening about possible domestic violence in light of the arguing but police searched and could not find either Charley or A.B.

The FBI later learned that Charley entered his mother’s house in the early morning hours of Oct. 8 hours after he was heard arguing with A.B. He was yelling and crying, waking up his sister and calling out for her to help him. Speaking in Navajo, he told her that A.B. was not breathing and may be “gone.”

He was asked where A.B. was and he replied “down there,” which family members took as being at his home. They called police as Charley took them outside and started going down the road telling them that A.B. was lying on the road.

Later, when police arrived, they found her body on the road. She had injuries to her head and body. Charley at that point was still wandering the area. One area resident told police that he came to their house about 2 a.m. He wanted to come inside but was not allowed.

He then told them he thought police were looking for him, adding, “I might have killed her.”

He was asked who he was talking about and replied, “My girlfriend.”

Tribal police continued searching the area for him throughout the night and found him near a schoolyard. He was arrested and police said in their incident report that they could smell intoxicating liquor coming off him.

Police asked him to talk about what had happened. He said he would if they removed his handcuffs. But they said they could not do that so he asked for an attorney. He was booked it tribal jail on criminal homicide and aggravated battery charges.

Later that day he was interviewed by FBI agents. He told them he had been in a relationship with A.B. for four years. They had broken up and he had found a new girlfriend. Despite this, he said he and A.B. had spent Oct. 7 together, drinking throughout the day.

He said A.B. started talking about his new girlfriend and wouldn’t stop. He said he had no memory of an actual fight but remembered looking down at her dead body.

After further questioning, however, he remembered pushing her and he said he may have hit her. As the interview went on, he agreed that he must have hit her, adding that “because of alcohol I did that to her.”

When asked again about what they were arguing about, he said, “It was her jealousy, not mine.”

At the end of the interview, he was asked what he would say to A.B.’s family.

He replied that he would say, “I’m sorry I did this to your mom. Not just sorry from the bottom of my heart but from my whole heart.”

About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.


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