Search efforts continue for missing Navajo woman Ella Mae Begay

Person of interest extradited to San Juan County; police release no details of investigation

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – New details were released Friday night about the arrest of a person of interest in the disappearance of Ella Mae Begay of Sweetwater, Arizona, as search efforts in that region expanded.

The Navajo Police Department released no new details about the investigation. Searchers have yet to find any sign of the 62-year-old woman after three days of scouring lands around the area where she lives.

Police say Begay has a slender build, is approximately 5-foot-1 and weighs between 110 to 120 pounds. Police are also seeking her silver 2005 Ford F150 truck, which has the Arizona license plate AFE 7101.

More:Police locate person of interest in reported disappearance of Navajo woman

Ella Mae Begay

A person of interest was arrested Thursday, held briefly in Crownpoint and then jailed in San Juan County on Friday.

“Preston Tolth was arrested on Navajo Nation charges for an unrelated battery on a family member and was held at the Crownpoint Department of Corrections,” NPD spokesperson Christina Tsosie said in a news release June 18.

Tolth, who the Navajo Police Department said also had some outstanding warrants with the Farmington Police Department, was extradited with the approval of the Navajo Nation and booked into the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on the evening of June 18, according to online records.

He is being held on a misdemeanor charge, according to online records.

Farmington police chief:Officers' actions during May 10 shooting were within policy

Search began June 15

The Navajo Police Department's Shiprock District learned at 10:55 a.m. June 15 that Begay was missing, according to the Daily Times archives, and began the search. Begay had last been seen on Monday, June 14.

The Navajo Police Department Criminal Investigations is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the search efforts are aided by air support from the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 

Those combing the area in a grid search include “numerous community members, the Division of Public Safety personnel, and search groups,” according to the news release.

Police ask anyone with information to call the Navajo Police Department Shiprock District at 505-368-1350, 505-368-1351, or 9-1-1.

Local crime:Three accused of severely injuring man by stomping on him in west Farmington

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at Support local journalism with a digital subscription: