LOCAL NEWS

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

FILE - Seraphine Warren, center left, is embraced by state Sen. Shannon Pinto outside the state cap...

FILE - Seraphine Warren, center left, is embraced by state Sen. Shannon Pinto outside the state capitol building on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. They participated in a rally drawing attention to murdered and missing Ingenious peoples, including Warren's aunt Ella Mae Begay, a Navajo woman who went missing in June of 2021. A federal grand jury has indicted a New Mexico man on assault and carjacking charges in connection with the 2021 disappearance of Ella Mae Begay in a case that has helped raise awareness about missing and unsolved slayings in Indian Country. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(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.”

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Four Utahns charged with kidnapping Arizona man, leaving him in New Mexico