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Police continue search, change investigation to foul-play probe


The Navajo Police Shiprock District changed Ella Mae Begay’s disappearance into a foul-play probe and police continue to search in Sweetwater, Arizona.

Navajo Times | Crystal Ashike
Volunteers sign in to search for Ella Mae Begay at the Sweetwater Chapter House. Temperatures reached 104 degrees on Saturday, June 19.

Begay was reported missing on Tuesday, June 15, by a family member. Begay is 5-feet, 1-inch tall, with brown eyes and weighs 110 to 120 pounds with a slender build.

Begay’s truck, a 2005 silver Ford F-150 with Arizona license plate AFE 7101, was last seen leaving her residence in the early morning hours on June 15.

Distinctive characteristics of her truck are a missing gas cover plate, black-tinted windows, chrome decals on the fender, chrome side-steps and the tailgate is permanently down with a spare tire in the back.

A person of interest in the disappearance, Preston Tolth, was identified by Navajo Police and was held in Crownpoint. Tolth was transported to San Juan County Adult Detention Center in Farmington for outstanding warrants on Thursday, June 17.

On Friday, June 25, the Shiprock Police District continued search operations in Thoreau, New Mexico, and transitioned the case from a missing person into a foul-play investigation.

The search efforts continued with community volunteers, law enforcement agencies, and the Navajo Division of Public Safety in Sweetwater on Saturday and on Sunday.

A reward for anyone that has information that successfully leads to finding Ella Mae Begay has risen to $3,250, according to the “Bring Ella Mae Begay Home” GoFundMe page.

The Navajo Police ask anyone with any information to contact the Shiprock Police District at 505-368-1350 or 505-368-1351.

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