FARMINGTON >> None of the five suspects who were charged on Dec. 12 with the brutal death of a Navajo woman have been indicted, according to a federal court website.
Two of the suspects are being detained in the case and the other three suspects remain at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center where they are being held on unrelated charges, according to jail records.
Grand juries indict suspects of crimes if jurors believe the evidence shows the suspects probably committed the crime they are accused of, according to Federal Judicial Center's website,
The FBI on Dec. 10 found the body of a woman identified in court documents as Jane Doe. Police records show the woman was Gabrielle Joe, 28.
The victim was stabbed, her throat slit and her body thrown from a cliff, according to an affidavit. Joe was left to die on County Road 7100 near the Bisti Highway, FBI Special Agent Vanessa Bassett wrote in the affidavit.
An unidentified witness told investigators Dec. 10 that the slaying took place Oct. 23, according to the affidavit.
Justin and Patrick Benally, 26, Lasheena Jacquez, 27, Scott Thompson, 27, and Mariah Benally, 21, were charged with murder, kidnapping and aiding and abetting in a criminal complaint filed in federal court on Dec. 12. The witness told police the suspects and the victim were at a Farmington house where they used methamphetamine. Paranoid the victim was going to talk to a rival drug dealer, the group tied her up and drove her out to County Road 7100.
There, Patrick Benally and Lasheena Jacquez allegedly stabbed her with a knife, according to the affidavit.
Chief Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen ordered the Benally brothers be detained in connection to the murder charges during a preliminary hearing on Dec. 16, according to a federal court website.
Douglas Couleur, Justin Benally's attorney, said he was not aware whether the case has been presented to a grand jury.
If prosecutors receive an indictment against the suspects named in the complaint, the next step would be for each defendant to be arraigned on the charges, Couleur said.
Jonnie Eaglefeather, 24, was also charged with the same charges as the other five suspects but her case was dismissed Dec. 16 "in the interests of justice," according to a motion filed in federal court.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico have declined to identify the victim or answer questions about the case.
Joe was last seen by her family in mid-October and they reported her missing in November, according to Farmington police.
Farmington spokeswoman Georgette Allen said in an email that Joe's case is now being handled by the FBI. Joe is the only missing person case that Farmington police have turned over to the FBI in the last three months, she said.
The FBI said in the affidavit that the victim in the slaying was a Farmington police missing person case until her body was found Dec. 10.
Joe was pronounced dead on Dec. 10 and her funeral was Dec. 24.
Jacquez, Thompson and Mariah Benally all remain in custody at San Juan County Detention Center. They were arrested in early November on suspicion of robbing and beating a 67-year-old woman who was giving one of them a ride home. They were in custody for that when they were charged as part of the FBI's homicide investigation.
Eric Morrow, Thompson's attorney, said his client was approached recently by FBI agents while he was in jail for the robbery charge. Morrow said he wasn't sure of the date, but FBI agents attempted to ask Thompson questions about a homicide investigation.
That was the only time law enforcement asked Thompson questions about Joe's disappearance, Morrow said.
Morrow said Thompson has said investigators misrepresented his statements and said he confessed to the robbery in the affidavit for his charge. For that reason Morrow said Thompson has refused to say anything else to the FBI about the case.
"He had learned from the recent experience that it is rare that you would talk to police and help yourself," Morrow said. "He denied he was involved (in the woman's slaying)... and other than that he didn't say anything."
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.