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A U.S. airman stationed in Arizona was arrested this week in the murder of a New Mexico Mennonite woman whose body was found in the desert near Flagstaff earlier this year.
Sasha Krause was reported missing in January. Search and rescue teams unsuccessfully combed the remote landscape surrounding the New Mexico Mennonite community she vanished from in the days following her disappearance. The Sunday school teacher’s body was later discovered hundreds of miles away near the Sunset Crater National Monument outside Flagstaff. She was 27.
On April 21, Arizona authorities arrested Mark Gooch in the slaying of Krause, following an investigation that spanned several months.
“Over the last few months, San Juan County has lived in fear not knowing if we had a predator living inside of our community or somebody that was preying upon it,” Sheriff Shane Ferrari said in a video statement on April 21. “I can assure you, we have our man.”
Krause, originally from Texas, had no family in New Mexico. She had moved to the Mennonite community, known by locals as Lamp and Light, roughly a year and a half before her murder, a sheriff’s spokesperson confirmed.
“It’s devastating,” Jayme Harcrow, a public information officer for the San Juan Sheriff’s Office, previously told Oxygen.com.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Air Force confirmed Gooch was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. He held the ranking of airman first class. If convicted, authorities hinted Gooch could face capital punishment in Krause's murder.
“The sheriff of Coconino County and I are committed to making sure Mark Gooch receives a max sentence for these horrible crimes,” Ferrari added. “And yes, Arizona still has the death penalty. In the meantime, I want to assure you of my confidence that we have the right person responsible for this crime.
The FBI also assisted on the investigation, local authorities said.
Gooch is also charged with kidnapping and theft, according to ABC News. He's is being held at a Maricopa County jailhouse, officials said. The accused U.S. airman will be transferred back to Coconino County to face murder charges.
He hasn't yet entered a plea, the Fairfield Citizen reported.
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