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.”

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

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.

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.

The Twists And Turns Of The Infamous Susan Smith Case

On October 25, 1994, the 23-year-old South Carolina mother drowned her two young children.

Kidnapping Victim Helps Orchestrate Her Own Rescue By Holding Up Sign Saying 'Help Me'

A 13-year-old girl was rescued after holding up a sign from the window of Steven Robert Sablan’s car in a Long Beach, California parking lot.

True Crime News Roundup: Texas Man Accused of Kidnapping and Torturing Woman He Met On Dating App

Plus: Utah family of 8 found fatally shot in murder-suicide; Probable cause affidavit released for University of Idaho murder case.

FedEx Driver Charged With Murder After 7-Year-Old Went Missing From Outside Her Texas Home

On Nov. 30, 2022, Athena Strand went missing from her front yard. Two days later, her body was found and 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner was charged with her murder.

An Oklahoma Murderer Took A Crucial Case Detail To His Grave

It took police nearly 20 years to make an arrest in the case of missing child Kirsten Hatfield, but her body has never been found.

Kayla Unbehaun, Missing Since 2017, Found Safe In Asheville

Kayla Unbehaun was abducted from Illinois by her biological mother, Heather Unbehaun, on Independence Day 2017. 6 years later, she was found safe in North Carolina.

Quebec Prisoner With 89 Convictions Charged In Young Girl’s 1994 Murder

Nearly 30 years after the body of 10-year-old Marie-Chantale Desjardins was found behind a shopping center, 61-year-old Réal Courtemanche has been charged with her murder.

Video: Young Mom Denise Amber Lee Kidnapped In Broad Daylight

Kidnapped in broad daylight at home with her children present, she bravely made a 911 call, however a tragic mistake would seal her fate.