The FBI has arrested a suspect in the murder of 11-year-old Ashlynn Mike. On Monday, May 2, Mike and her 9-year-old brother, Ian, were abducted from a bus stop only a quarter a mile from their home. The Associated Press reports:
A man in a van offered to take them to watch a movie. The brother and another boy — a relative of the children — said no, but Ashlynne [sic] was somehow lured into the van.
Not wanting his sister to go alone, her brother jumped in too.
The abduction sparked a frantic air and ground search. But the immediate search was focused on the opposite side of the highway from where authorities needed to be looking.
Ian managed to escape and was found running frantically down a street where he was taken to the police. Ashlynn, however, was later found dead. After an exhaustive search of the Navajo reservation, Ashlynn’s body was found on Tuesday in a remote part of Shiprock, a town in the reservation. Hours later, Tom Begaye, 27, was arrested. He is scheduled to appear in court later today.
USA Today reports that, for many in the Navajo Nation, the arrest is “too little too late.” In a statement, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye criticized law enforcement for their delayed response and suggested that the Amber Alert had been sent out late.
“There should be no delay when using technology to report the abduction of our people,” Begaye said. “We have perpetrators out here who take advantage of our children and this is totally unacceptable.” The Amber Alert was sent out at 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, hours after Ashlynn was abducted and hours after the Navajo members began independently searching for the girl.
The FBI declined to answer any questions about the delayed Amber Alert. Jesse Delmar, director of the tribal division of public safety, said in a statement:
“There is a protocol and process in place. The New Mexico State Police have a criteria in which they have to obtain information by protocol from an agency source before they issue an Amber Alert. Everything was handled according to the protocol and policies in issuing an Amber Alert.”
According to USA Today, the Navajo Nation does not have access to the Amber Alert system and must contact local police to alert them to a missing child. Though the Nation received funding to connect to the Amber Alert system in the 2000s, the project wasn’t completed. The paper reports, “authorities said the project needs to be completed as soon as possible because time is of the essence during a child abduction investigation.”
During a moment of silence for Ashlynn last night, her elementary school principal remembered her as a kind, quiet fifth-grader who played xylophone in the band.
Update: Mike’s mother clarified to NBC that officials misspelled Ashlynn’s name, adding an unnecessary “e” to the end.
Image via AP.