Four Utahns charged with kidnapping Arizona man, leaving him in New Mexico
Oct 25, 2023, 8:25 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2023, 6:41 am
(AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio, File)
ALBUQUERQUE — A federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday charging four Utah residents with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
The indictment was announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.
The four accused are Seraphine Warren, of Tooele; her husband Orlando Begay, of Salt Lake City; her sister Josephine Bekay, of Gusher, Utah; and Bekay’s husband Nelton Alex Bekay, of Gusher.
The indictment alleges that the four defendants abducted the victim, listed as John Doe in court documents, from his Arizona home on March 29, 2021.
They are alleged to have located the victim using Facebook and attacked him with paintball guns and “a blunt force object” to the head, before handcuffing him in the back of a vehicle.
The four then transported him to New Mexico, where he was released near the city of Farmington on April 1, 2021.
The announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not mention a suspected motive for the kidnapping.
All four defendants are enrolled members of the Navajo Nation. The FBI investigated the case with the help of the Navajo Nation Police Department and the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations.
In 2021, Warren organized a volunteer search for her aunt, Ella Mae Begay, who went missing months after the kidnapping is alleged to have taken place. Warren has also engaged in activism aimed at raising awareness about cases of missing native women.
It is unclear whether the kidnapping was related in any way to Begay’s disappearance.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, if convicted, each of the defendants faces “up to life imprisonment and 5 years up to life of supervised release thereafter.”