New Mexico Man Charged With Carjacking and Assault of Ella Mae Begay, Elderly Navajo Woman Missing Since 2021

Ella Mae Begay, 62, Native American woman with brown hair wearing glasses
Ella Mae Begay was reported missing after her truck was seen leaving her home near Sweetwater, Arizona, on June 15, 2021. (FBI)Federal Bureau of Investigation

Ella Mae Begay, 62, was reported missing on June 15, 2021.

A New Mexico man has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Phoenix for carjacking and assault in connection to the 2021 case of a missing Navajo woman, officials said. 

Preston Henry Tolth, 23, was indicted on two charges on March 14 in connection to the disappearance of 62-year-old Ella Mae Begay, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

“This indictment is an important first step in determining the truth about what happened to an elderly victim on the Navajo Nation,” said U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino. “The indictment charges the defendant with carjacking and assault; the investigation is ongoing.”

Begay was reported missing on June 15, 2021 by her family after her truck was last seen leaving her home near Sweetwater, Arizona, earlier that day, according to the FBI

The indictment alleges that Tolth assaulted Begay and took her vehicle across state lines with the intent to cause serious bodily harm or cause death to the elderly woman, the U.S. DA’S Office said.

If convicted of assault, Tolth can face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. If he is found guilty of carjacking, he faces up to 25 years and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. DA’S Office. 

Begay and her truck have still not been located but the investigation is ongoing, the Navajo Police Department said.

Begay stands 5 feet tall and weighs 125 pounds, officials said. She has brown eyes and brown hair. She speaks English and Navajo. 

It was believed that her "truck may have been driven toward Thoreau, New Mexico, and may have proceeded in the direction of Albuquerque, New Mexico," the FBI said in the wake of Begay's disappearance. Her vehicle was described as a 2005 Ford F-150, gray or silver in color, with a broken tailgate that would not close, with Arizona license plate AFE7101. 

Anyone with information on Begay is asked to please contact their local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

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