An ex-Air Force Airman was found guilty of the abduction and murder of Sasha Krause, a Mennonite woman who taught Sunday school. Her body was discovered hundreds of miles away from her New Mexico home.
Sasha Krause Was Reported Missing After She Ran Errands & Prepared to Teach Sunday School.
Krause was first reported missing on January 18 from her Mennonite Community in Farmington, New Mexico. She mysteriously vanished after running an errand at the Farmington Mennonite Church where she was preparing to teach Sunday school, AZFamily.com reported.
Despite living in a tight-knit community, no one saw her being abducted or murdered.
On February 22, a hiker found Krause’s lifeless body near a camper in Sunset Crater National Monument in Flagstaff, Arizona, according to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. The site was 300 miles away from her home.
The Sunday school teacher had suffered blunt force trauma and a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Her body was discovered with her wrists bound with duct tape.
After authorities were alerted about Krause’s disappearance, detectives with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office used cell phone records and surveillance video to discover Gooch had traveled from his home at Luke Air Force Base to Farmington. Gooch was arrested in April 2020.
Prosecutors Do Not Believe Gooch Knew the Murder Victim.
There is no evidence that the ex-airman knew the victim, but prosecutors presented text messages shared between Gooch and his brother that criticizes the Mennonite way of life.
Gooch was raised in a Mennonite community in Wisconsin, where he worked on his family’s dairy farm and went to school through eighth grade. He later rejected the religion and joined the U.S. Air Force, the AP reported.
Gooch, who is 22-years-old, faces up to life in prison. His sentencing is set for November 24. Coconino County Attorney William Ring said his office will seek swift justice and thanked the jury for its service.
“Through some hard work, the community will be a safer place tonight,” a statement from Ring said.
Before her death, Krause taught school for over six years at a Mennonite community in Grandview, Texas. She later moved to Farmington, where she worked in a publishing ministry.
In addition to murder, Gooch was also convicted of a misdemeanor charge of theft.
Coconino County Sheriff’s Detective Lauren Nagele explained that hundreds of hours spent on the investigation and the jury’s decision brought justice for Krause and her family.
“The verdict, unfortunately, cannot bring Sasha back, but it does protect our society by preventing Mark Gooch from ever murdering another innocent person,” Nagele said in a statement.
The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in New Mexico, which investigated Krause’s disappearance, said it will pursue a different kidnapping charge against Gooch since the case originated in that state.
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