Navajo Nation Girl Assaulted, Killed After Man Kidnapped Her While She Was Playing

Tom Begaye Jr. left the 11-year-old child to die in the desert after “repeatedly hitting her on the head and face with a tire iron.”

November 04, 2021
Ashlynne Mike school photo. She is wearing a blue and white t shirt in front of a purple background.

11-year-old Ashlynne Mike

Photo by: Central Consolidated School District

Central Consolidated School District

11-year-old Ashlynne Mike

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A man sentenced in 2017 to life in prison without the possibility of parole in connection to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of an 11-year-old Navajo girl in New Mexico recently lost his appeal to plead guilty to a lesser charge with a reduced prison sentence.

On May 2, 2016, Ashlynne Mike and her 9-year-old brother, Ian, were playing together on the Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County when Tom Begaye Jr. — a man they didn’t know — drove up in a van and offered them a ride home, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint.

Ian later told police that the two accepted because his sister had hurt her foot. The man then drove the pair down a remote road near Shiprock Monument, pulled over and walked with Ashlynne toward a hill while her brother stayed in the van.

“Begaye sexually assaulted the victim before killing her by strangling her and repeatedly hitting her on the head and face with a tire iron,” federal prosecutors said in a news release. “Begaye then returned to his van, directed the victim’s brother to get out of the van, and drove away, leaving the child behind.”

A motorist found Ian walking on a road that evening. Family located Ashlynne’s body the following day.

Law enforcement managed to track down the van Begaye was driving, and Ian identified him as the kidnapper.

According to the complaint, Begaye admitted to abducting the siblings and bludgeoning Ashlynne. The elementary school student, he said, was still moving when he left her in the desert.

On Aug. 1, 2017, Begaye pleaded guilty to six charges filed against him, including felony murder, aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death, and kidnapping of a minor.

Nearly two years later, in June 2019, Begaye filed motions from prison requesting he be allowed to plead to lesser charges, claiming he didn’t understand the law or his rights and that his defense lawyer was incompetent, the Associated Press reported.

In August 2020, however, a judge denied Begaye’s petition to the court, ruling the convicted killer made his request eight months past the filing deadline and failed to provide reasons showing why his federal public defender was ineffective.

“The Navajo people cherish our little young ones, and so this case was so extreme and so shocking to us all,” Director Jesse Delmar of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety said after Ashlynne’s death.

Next Up

Remembering Georgia Lee Moses: The Search For Answers In The Little Girl’s 1997 Killing Continues

“My sister will get her justice,” insists the 12-year-old murder victim’s younger sibling.

Escaped Murderer On U.S. Marshals Top 15 Most Wanted Being Sought In Los Angeles

Lester Eubanks, who has been on the run for 47 years, was convicted of killing 14-year-old Mary Ellen Deener in 1966. Newly resurfaced photos may finally lead authorities to capturing him.

UPDATE: U.S. Marshals Nab "In Pursuit with John Walsh" Convicted Killer In Alabama

The U.S. Marshals closed in on Maurice Nesbitt in Birmingham, Alabama. The arrest makes the 25th fugitive featured and captured from "In Pursuit with John Walsh."

Kidnapped Girl Who Chewed Off Restraints To Escape Led Authorities To Find Two Dead Bodies

A 12-year-old Alabama girl escaped her kidnapper on August 1, 2022, leading police to discover the deceased bodies of a 29-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy.

Mother's Fight For Justice Continues After Son's Alleged Killer Goes Free

Pravin Varughese's mother believes he was murdered - and she spent years building a case to find justice for her only son

How The Abduction And Murder Of A 9-Year-Old Led To The AMBER Alert System

The AMBER alert system first debuted in 1996 as a collaboration between news media and police in Arlington, Texas. Named for Amber Hagerman, the alerts have helped find more than 1,000 abducted children.

True Crime News Roundup: Prince Andrew Stripped Of Military Titles After Judge Allows Sex Abuse Case To Proceed

Plus: A Chicago mother is arrested in connection to the murder of her 6-year-old son; the convicted killer Robert Durst dies at age 78; Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ sentencing date is set; and an LGBTQ+ rights movement hero is found dead in a Florida landfill.

Mother Who Claimed 7-Year-Old Daughter Was Sick Sentenced To Prison After Girl Dies

“This is a despicable crime,” prosecutor says of Kelly Renee Turner approving “surgery after surgery” for the child.

UPDATE: Video Of Police Shooting of 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo Released

Adam Toledo was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer on March 29.

Grieving Grandmother Desperate For Answers In 12-Year-Old Grandson’s Murder

Glenda Mack says she has no idea who would hurt the young boy she had been raising since he was a newborn.