FARMINGTON — A man has been charged with second-degree murder for the drowning of a woman in Shiprock whose body was found more than one year ago.
Elvan Hovel was charged in federal court on Aug. 13.
Hovel allegedly pushed a 48-year-old woman into an irrigation canal in an area called "Paradise," located north of Shiprock, according to federal court documents.
A canal worker found the woman's body on July 22, 2012.
The woman had braided hair and was wearing a yellow T-shirt, blue denim shorts and Nike running shoes, according to an FBI news release from July 26, 2012. Family members identified her in September 2012, but her identity has not been made public.
An autopsy revealed the woman drowned. Her blood-alcohol content was .315, according to court documents.
Investigators learned the woman was with two men -- identified only as L.L. and R.P. in court documents -- on the day of her death. The men allegedly told investigators that they, Hoval and the woman were drinking heavily, and then Hovel pushed the woman into the canal.
Investigators were not able to locate Hovel until he was arrested Aug. 11 on suspicion of disorderly conduct in Shiprock.
An FBI agent and a Navajo Nation criminal investigator interviewed Hoval the next day.
Hovel initially denied killing the woman but later said he pushed her into the canal and watched her "go under," according to court documents.
Hovel, who said that he and the woman had been in a relationship since 2003, admitted to investigators that he had a drinking problem and that he encountered problems with the woman, according to court documents.
He said that after the incident he hitchhiked to Albuquerque to avoid criminal charges, according to the documents.
Hovel, who was born in 1971, is in federal custody pending his trial.
His attorney, Samuel Winder, declined to comment.Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.