Body found in Shiprock is missing detainee who police say evaded officers while handcuffed

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – The Navajo Police Department reported Nov. 12 that a body found that morning in a canal  on the north side of Shiprock was that of a man who police said had been detained by that agency last month, but disappeared outside the Shiprock Police Department headquarters when an officer turned his back on the man to put on protective gloves.

A news release and a Facebook post by the department shortly before 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 said the FBI is investigating the death of 21-year-old Jevon Descheenie. He was detained and taken into custody on Oct. 25 by an unidentified officer after officers from Navajo Police Department, Shiprock District responded to a report of a “highly intoxicated man” in the median near Highway 64’s Shiprock Bridge, the news release said.

“Due to the lack of a corrections center in Shiprock, NM, Descheenie was transported to the Shiprock Police Department,” the  release said.

Descheenie “was detained and handcuffed behind his back,” the release said. “The responding officer was able to identify the individual’s place of employment where he was identified as Jevon Descheenie by his employer.”

After identifying the man, the officers were going to find a responsible party and release the man, the news release stated. 

The release provided the following narrative about how the handcuffed man left police custody.

“While parked outside of the police building, Descheenie vomited in the rear passenger compartment of the police vehicle,” the release stated. “The officer removed Descheenie and seated him on the rear step of a transport van parked next to the police vehicle.  The officer walked to the front of the police vehicle in order to put on protective gloves so that the rear passenger compartment could be cleaned.  When the officer returned to the rear of the transport van, Descheenie was gone.”

The release states that a search started and was not successful. “Officers began searching the surrounding area for Descheenie and over several hours, expanded their search away from the police building and to the main road corridors,” the news release said.

“Officers were also able to identify relatives and made them aware of Descheenie’s escape,” the release said. “After failing to return home, the family reported Descheenie missing on November 2, 2021, and he was entered in NCIC as a missing person.”

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is a computerized index of criminal justice information available to federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies, according to the FBI’s website.

The missing persons flyer posted by police on social media in this case did not mention that the missing man had been detained by police and then went missing. It said "Jevon Descheenie was last seen on October 25, 2021, in Shiprock, New Mexico. Jevon was last seen wearing the vest he is pictured in below.  He also has multi-colored shoulder-length hair."

More information about the time of the detention and disappearance, the scope of the search and agencies involved on Oct. 25 were not available from the police department at the time of this article's publication.

While the release stated that Descheenie was handcuffed behind his back when he disappeared, it didn't say whether he was still handcuffed when his body was found. The release didn't say if there was an apparent cause of death.

"Due to this being an active investigation by our federal partners, I will need to forward your inquiry to the FBI Public Affairs Office in Albuquerque New Mexico for any additional release of information," Navajo Police Department Public Information Officer Christina Tsosie told The Daily Times via email shortly after midnight on Nov. 13.

An inquiry was made to the FBI late on Nov. 12, but no reply has been received by The Daily Times as of 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13.

Correction: The Navajo Police Department 's Facebook post and a news release about this case were released on Nov. 12. An earlier version of this story listed a different date.

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com.

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