Farmington police suspect foul play in missing woman's case
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Boyfriend is accused of using missing woman's bank card
FARMINGTON — The Farmington Police Department suspects foul play in the disappearance of a Farmington woman and is investigating her boyfriend as a person of interest after blood evidence was found.
Cecelia Finona, 59, has not been seen since the night of May 30 when family members spoke to her at her residence in the east side of Farmington, according to court documents.
Jerry Jay, 57, of Farmington, is Finona's boyfriend and has been charged with a felony count of unlawful withdrawal from a financial institution, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
"The Farmington Police Department is very concerned for the safety of Cecelia Finona," Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said in a statement. "Based on Jerry Jay’s actions up to this point, we do believe he is a person of interest in this case and holds information that is extremely important to ensuring her safe return."
Hebbe added Jay has been arrested in Nevada on his warrant and that they are working with other law enforcement agencies on the case.
Previous convictions for murder, battery
Jay was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 along with two felony convictions of aggravated battery of a household member in 1998, according to court records.
Jay is accused of using Finona's bank card to withdraw about $300 from a drive-up ATM at Four Corners Community Bank at 5900 E. Main St. around 5:56 a.m. on May 31.
Jay's arrest affidavit contains information a detective investigating the credit card case gleaned June 2 from investigators handling the missing persons case.
On June 1, a blood trail was discovered outside Finona's residence, on the bottom of the front porch deck.
The trail led from the front porch to the gravel driveway, from which Finona's white Ford 150 was missing. It was initially reported that her vehicle was at the residence.
Investigators found a single eyeglass lens covered in blood, and a left eyeglass temple was found at the bottom of the porch deck. Finona is known to wear eyeglasses.
The affidavit states foul play is suspected based on the evidence at the scene.
A crime scene investigator stated someone attempted to cover and hide the blood trail with potting soil.
A relative of Finona's told police Jay and Finona were arguing on the night of May 30. The relative said Finona was upset and Jay was angry, according to court documents.
Around 2 to 3 a.m. the relative heard someone exit Finona's bedroom and leave the residence.
Family told police there had been recent "domestic violence incidents" involving the couple.
Police found Finona's ATM card was used four times, including the withdrawal from the Farmington bank.
It was used on May 31, in Window Rock, Arizona, on June 1, in Las Vegas, Nevada and June 3, in Kingman, Arizona.
The Kingman Police Department obtained surveillance video from a business and a Farmington police officer reviewed it.
A male matching Jay's description was observed at an ATM around 9:51 a.m. on June 3, then observed entering a white Ford F-150 pickup truck and leaving.
The officers did not observe any other passengers in the vehicle, and no one else exits the truck.
Another relative of Finona's told police he received a text message from Jay around 6:30 or 7 p.m. on May 30, stating Jay and Finona were having an argument.
The relative got a second text message from Jay around 10:10 p.m., stating Finona was accusing him of "messing around" with other women. Jay stated in that text that that he is just friends with the females.
Jay called the relative five times after sending the second text message.
Decades of service in the U.S. Army
Finona was interviewed by The Daily Times on March 20 during an event where the service and contributions of women in the military were honored at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock.
She told The Daily Times she returned to New Mexico after serving 31 years in the U.S. Army, where she retired as a master sergeant.
Finona, the only female veteran at the event, took time to speak to state Rep. Anthony Allison, D-San Juan, about some of the challenges veterans face seeking services for assistance.
Anyone with information on Finona can contact Detective Daven Badoni at 505-599-1005 or also contact the Farmington police tip line at 505-599-1068.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.