Former U.S. Airman Found Guilty in Brutal Slaying of Mennonite Teacher Sasha Krause

Victim, Sasha Krause, 27 brutally murdered by Mark Gooch in 2020.
San Juan County Sheriff's Office/Legacy

On Wednesday, after deliberating for less than a full day, a jury in Arizona found Mark Gooch, 22, guilty of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the 2020 killing of 27-year-old Krause, a report said.

A former U.S. Air Force airman has been convicted in the kidnapping and brutal murder of Mennonite Sunday school teacher Sasha Krause, officials said, according to a published report.

On Wednesday, after deliberating for less than a full day, a jury in Arizona found Mark Gooch, 22, guilty of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the 2020 killing of 27-year-old Krause, People reported. 

Gooch stood in a military stance and showed no emotion as the verdict was announced, the Associated Press reported.

William Ring, Coconino County attorney for the Krause family, thanked the jury for its service and said his office will "seek swift justice," the AP reported. 

During the trial, Krause’s parents and others who shared in the conservative Christian faith, including the general manager of the Farmington publishing ministry where Krause worked, were in the courtroom, the news outlet reported.

Krause was reported missing on Jan. 18 from her Mennonite community located in Farmington, New Mexico. She had decided to run an errand before her class at the Farmington Mennonite Church, but had never returned, reported.

Nearly five weeks after she disappeared, Krause’s body was found hundreds of miles away in a forest clearing near Flagstaff, Arizona. A camper, who had been collecting firewood, made the grim discovery. Krause was found face-down and covered in pine needles. Her wrists were bound with a gunshot to the head, the AP reported. 

Coconino County detectives used cellphone records and surveillance video that indicated that Gooch had traveled from Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, where he had been stationed to Farmington, People reported. 

In April 2020, Gooch was arrested, the news outlet reported. 

Gooch, similar to Krause, was raised in a Mennonite community in Wisconsin. He joined the U.S. Airforce after rejecting the religion, a report said.

During the trail, prosecutors said investigators had found text messages between Gooch and his brother that indicated resentment towards the Mennonite community, People reported. 

Before the verdict was read, jurors heard 10 days of testimony from those who knew the 27-year-old and those involved in the investigation, including ballistic experts who had varying views on the type of rifle used in the shooting. 

Jim Gooch testified that his son left the Mennonite faith and joined the military because he lacked a converted heart, the AP reported

Among the jury, Gooch’s attorney, Bruce Griffen, tried to raise reasonable doubt declaring a lack of forensic evidence and testimony about another car being seen the Mennonite community the day Krause disappeared, reported.

There was no evidence that Krause knew Gooch, People reported.

Authorities also found inconsistencies in Gooch’s story, officials said. 

Krause was a teacher for six years at Grandview Gospel Fellowship in Grandview, Texas, before moving to Farmington less than two years ago to work in the publishing ministry, reported.

Krause’s father, Bob Krause, told the AP on Wednesday that his daughter “was a person of deep faith who found joy in working with children and learning.” He also said she loved language, and words, the news outlet said.

The last stanza in a poem she wrote titled “I do not walk alone” he said, "was perhaps was about passing in old age," he said, but “it is amazingly apt to what seems to have happened to her," the Associated Press reported. 

In addition to murder, Gooch was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of theft, according to a report.

Gooch faces up to life in prison at his sentencing that is scheduled for Nov. 24, the news outlet reported. 

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