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Boyfriend Charged In Murder Of Navajo Woman Who Disappeared In 2019

Jamie Yazzie went missing from her home in the Navajo Nation in June 2019, and her remains were found last November. Her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, Tre James, has now been charged in her murder.

By Dorian Geiger
A handout of Jamie Yazzie from the FBI

A Navajo Nation man from Arizona has been arrested in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend — a nurse and fellow Navajo Nation member — who vanished more than three years ago.

Tre James, 30, has been charged with first-degree murder in the 2019 killing of his girlfriend Jamie Lynette Yazzie, whose remains were found in 2021, federal prosecutors announced Friday. 

Jamie Lynnette Yazzie, 31, vanished on June 30, 2019 from the area of Pinon, Arizona — a small town that is part of the Navajo Nation roughly 125 miles northeast of Flagstaff. She failed to show up for work the following day and was reported missing by her mother five days later.

Yazzie’s incomplete skeletal remains were discovered on the Hopi Indian Reservation — which is just southwest of Pinon — in November. She died from a gunshot wound to her head.

Authorities alleged that James gunned down Yazzie at the couple’s Pinon home in the early morning hours of July 1, 2019, following an argument about infidelity. Both James and Yazzie were purportedly also seeing different people at the time of the killing, investigators said.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is committed to addressing the persistent violence endured by Native American families and communities in the state of Arizona, including by working with Tribal nations to address the important issues of missing or murdered indigenous persons and acts of domestic violence,” the Department of Justice said in a statement on Aug. 5.

Hours before Yazzie’s alleged murder, James’ sister told detectives she’d received a Facebook message from Yazzie stating that James had fired off two rounds and “chased [her] back into the house,” per the complaint.

Yazzie’s brother, who eventually told authorities he and his girlfriend had been drinking with Yazzie and James on the evening of June 30, allegedly recounted how James had shown off a black .45 caliber or nine millimeter handgun he’d gotten for his birthday. 

As Yazzie “got tipsy,” she accused James of once pointing the pistol at her, claiming “he actually tried to shoot me with that,” her brother said, according to the complaint.

An FBI handout of Jamie Yazzie

In the days following Yazzie’s disappearance, James allegedly camped out at his aunt’s house. Family members allegedly reported to investigators he was in possession of a handgun and was acting “aggressive, nervous and paranoid,” per charging documents.

Yazzie’s blood, suspected cleaning products, a pistol, a stained and partially burned mattress and spent shell casings were found at the couple’s shared home after two searches.

James’ family members allegedly told investigators the couple’s toxic relationship had been punctuated by domestic abuse. His sister and aunt described James as being “abusive” and “aggressive” towards Yazzie leading up to her disappearance. 

Yazzie’s co-workers told investigators that she’d been “having problems” with James as well. One colleague divulged that Yazzie had sent her a picture of herself with a black eye the year before her murder.

James’ father also told detectives his son was responsible for Yazzie’s disappearance. Under questioning, the elder James — who also noted the couple's mutual infidelities — allegedly stated that his son had admitted he “messed up” and that Yazzie had been “messing around with other guys.”

Prior to Yazzie’s remains being located last year, however, James avoided charges in the slain woman’s killing. 

James was questioned by investigators in January and denied ever being “rough” with Yazzie. He told FBI agents that the last time he saw his girlfriend was when they were drinking at the couple’s home with Yazzie’s brother and his girlfriend, and insisted she left with them. James insisted he didn’t know if Yazzie was “dead or alive” and denied owning any guns.

James — who has a prior criminal history — appeared in court for a detention hearing on Aug. 8, separate court documents show. A magistrate judge ordered he be held without bond pending trial.

The 30-year-old man was also slapped with six charges in addition to the murder and gun charges in Yazzie's death: kidnapping; two counts of assault by strangling an intimate partner; one count of assault by suffocating an intimate partner; and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon. Those six charges related to three different victims, and the underlying acts occurred between 2018 and 2021, according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.

Yazzie worked as a nursing assistant, according to the FBI, and would have turned 35 next month. 

“We continue to pray for the family and friends of Jamie,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement in March. “With the recent development, we are hopeful that we are a step closer to proving closure for the family so they can continue to heal. Our law enforcement and criminal investigators continue to offer their support to the FBI to bring justice for Jamie and her loved ones.”

James has pleaded not guilty, according to his attorney.

“As you may know, Mr. James was only recently arrested in this,” Roberta McVickers told Oxygen.com in a statement on Wednesday. “Mr. James has maintained his innocence.”

A jury trial for the matter has been set for Oct. 4. If convicted, James faces life in prison.