The family of Ella Mae Begay, a 62-year-old missing Navajo woman, is asking the public to help find her.
Begay went missing on June 15 from her home in Sweetwater, Ariz., “under suspicious circumstances,” according to an Instagram post from a group that advocates for missing and murdered Indigenous women. The post says groups extended their search this weekend to Aneth and Montezuma Creek — two small Utah towns in San Juan County — as well as the San Juan River and surrounding areas.
Gerald Begay, Ella Mae’s oldest son, said Sunday afternoon that the family began searching for her in Utah based on leads they’ve received. He said she disappeared from her home during the night.
“I know my mom,” he said. “At night, she doesn’t like going out for no reason, unless it’s an emergency.”
Begay is described as 5 feet 1 inch tall and about 110 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. Her vehicle, a silver 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck, with the Arizona license plate AFE7101, is also missing.
A niece of Ella Mae, Sarah Warren, said Sunday that family members have been searching for her aunt largely without police guidance. She said they felt “blindfolded,” searching in a vast, rugged area amid triple-digit temperatures.
A spokesperson with the FBI field office in Phoenix said in an email Sunday evening that “the FBI continues to assist the Navajo Police Department and other agencies to find Ella Mae Begay.” The only response The Tribune received from local law enforcement was from an employee with the police department in Shiprock, Ariz., who confirmed that “they still are actively searching for that female.”
Captain Leonard Redhorse, with the Shiprock district of the Navajo Police Department, said in a video posted online on June 25 that the case had transitioned from a “missing persons investigation” to a “foul play investigation.”
A friend of the family launched a GoFundMe campaign in June to assist with the search. Gerald Begay said the family needs more volunteers to search for his mother, but if people are unable to travel to the Navajo Nation, donating to the GoFundMe is helpful.
“The community wants her home, her family loves and misses her so much,” the GoFundMe page says. There is a cash reward for any information that leads to locating Ella Mae Begay.
Anyone with information regarding the woman’s whereabouts is asked to call the Navajo Police Department Shiprock District at 505-368-1350.
The Navajo Nation is largely made up of land in Arizona, but it also extends into New Mexico and Utah.