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Girlfriend of Shiprock alleged auto thief missing

WINDOW ROCK

Rose Yazzie last saw her daughter, Ranelle Rose Bennett, 34, on June 15, and after a few days of not hearing from her, she reported her missing.

Yazzie knew that Bennett had a new boyfriend, Kendale Johnson, but she had no idea how dangerous he was until officers told her. Now she is left wondering if he had anything to do with her daughter’s disappearance.

Yazzie said she had gone to see her daughter at her home in Hogback, New Mexico, to discuss the upcoming birthday for her granddaughter, Bennett’s daughter. Yazzie said they planned to meet to decorate the house for their festivity and Bennett said she would be there.

“She was talking to me, and I said, ‘Is KJ in the back there?’” Yazzie remembers. “She said, ‘Yeah.’ So KJ was in the back, in the bedroom.

“I’ve never seen this guy before,” Yazzie said. “They’ve only been seeing one another for about a month.”

Yazzie would hear about Johnson, but Bennett never introduced him to her family.

After agreeing on plans to meet at Yazzie’s she said she began to leave, and that’s when Bennett gave Yazzie a long, tearful goodbye hug.

“She was hugging me for a long time,” Yazzie said. “It wasn’t like her. She never hugged me like this. She was kind of crying.”

Bennett never made it to Yazzie’s home to celebrate her granddaughter’s birthday. Yazzie said Bennett didn’t answer her calls or texts.

Bennett’s daughter even texted her mother to remind her it was her birthday and asked if she was coming by like she said she would. But still no answer.

Bennett has two children who live with Yazzie and she calls them every day and is never gone for an extended time. After a few days of not contacting her or the children, Yazzie reported Bennett missing.

Yazzie went to Bennett’s home to find it locked. It was only until she talked to a police officer that she found out how dangerous Johnson is.

“He (officer) asked who she was with and I said KJ,” Yazzie said. “That’s when he told me, ‘That guy is no good.’ That’s when I began to worry.”

Johnson and his associates made news last week after they were apprehended for a slew of crimes happening in the Shiprock area, from home invasions to stealing vehicles.

Last Wednesday, Shiprock District police officers and their partners pursued two different vehicles. Johnson is believed to have been in one of them.

The pursuits ended with the occupants abandoning the vehicles resulting in a foot search of the Shiprock area where five individuals were apprehended, according to the Navajo Nation Police.

It wasn’t until early Friday morning that the Navajo Police apprehended Johnson and another suspect at Red Mesa, Arizona. Johnson was arrested on a federal warrant related to a 2020 weapons charge and will soon be in federal custody.

“The last several months, there has been a rash of car thefts and home invasions in the Shiprock area,” Navajo Nation Police Chief Phillip Francisco said in a previous interview with the Navajo Times. “Come to find out that it’s all kind of related. So we have been trying to catch this particular gentleman who seems to be heavily involved with it.”

During the Wednesday pursuit, suspects threw “homemade spike devices” at officers and two police units had tires blown out. Another police unit was rammed by one of the suspects.

Francisco said officers in the Shiprock District plan to search the area where Johnson told them he last saw Bennett.

Francisco said his officers are currently interviewing people involved with Johnson about Bennett and the last time they saw her.

“I know they have been doing cell phone searches prior to finding Kendale, and it was kind of indicating she was moving around,” Francisco said. “But they weren’t sure if she had the cell phone or someone else, for a while. There is a lot of follow-up and investigation going on with this case to try to locate her.”

At one point, authorities thought Bennett was involved with the crime spree because she is connected to Johnson. Two female suspects were arrested along with Johnson.

“We can’t confirm or deny that either way,” Francisco said. “We really don’t know what happened. We will do more searches from where she was last seen.

“Kendale did indicate he did last see her in a certain area quite a few days after she was reported missing,” he said.

Yazzie continues to feel helpless and worries about her daughter.

“I wonder what happened to her?” Yazzie asks. “A lot is going through my mind. I cry every day. I try calling her. I pray.

“When the police told me he’s no good … it’s when it really scared me,” she said. “I just want her found. Every day I sit here wondering if she is going to walk through the door.”

A missing-person poster describes Bennett as 5 feet, 2 inches tall, weighing 125 pounds.

She has “Treasten” tattooed on her right inner forearm and a “B” tattooed behind her left ear. She was last seen wearing an orange tank top with black joggers/sweatpants.


About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reported on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent.

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