On a Friday in late February, a woman drove to the Sunset Crater Visitor Center, about 20 miles out of Flagstaff Arizona. She reported that she was gathering firewood and stumbled upon a body near her campsite. Deputies who went to investigate described a chilling scene. The found a woman’s body in the brush and in the investigative report, describe her as petite, dressed in a long, grey dress.
One deputy described it as “homemade,” and they can see her hair is pinned up in a bun. Investigators noted her hands were bound with tape and she’s not wearing underwear. They said she was shot in the back of the head. Investigators said they found drag marks near the body, and looked for shell casings but found none.
An autopsy later confirmed that the body belonged 27-year-old Sasha Krause who vanished from her small Mennonite community near Farmington, New Mexico a month earlier. She left home one cold night in January. She was headed to church to grab materials for a preschool class the next day but never returned.
The discovery would end weeks of searching for Krause and force investigators to switch their focus from missing to murder. “We have partnered with the Coconino Sheriff’s office and federal authorities in trying to identify and apprehend the individual responsible for Sasha’s kidnap and murder,” said San Juan County Sheriff, Shane Ferrari when announcing Krause had been found.
“We are fully committed to capturing this individual and bringing peace to the Krause family.”
People in New Mexico were shocked, while people in Arizona were wondering who Sasha Krause was, and how her body ended up there. Felicia Fonseca, the northern Arizona correspondent for the Associated Press lives in Flagstaff.
She said the town does not have an unusually high amount of murders or homicides so people could consider Krause’s murder unusual. “Tourists who have second homes up in Flagstaff come up for the summer. It’s a college town, it’s home to Northern Arizona University. It’s got a ski resort here.” Fonseca said.
Krause’s story caught Fonseca’s attention after reports that a missing New Mexico woman may have been found dead. “For the Associated Press, we were looking at is as a broader story because it covered so many states,” Fonseca said.
Fonseca found that Krause grew up in Texas. “She was 11 years old when she decided to become part of the Mennonite community and she later formally became a member of the church, a process in which you do some discernment and you commit to following Jesus Christ and there are some other steps involved in that,” said Fonseca.
“She became a school teacher in Grandview, Texas. She worked there for a number of years, and then a disagreement with another teacher led her to her post at the Mennonite community outside of Farmington, New Mexico, where she worked in a publishing ministry called Lamp and Light Publishers,” Fonseca said.
Krause spoke Spanish and was learning French to help with her ministry. “Some family friends that I have talked to have said she did things like make sure people who did not understand English could understand the church services. You know, sitting next to them and simultaneously translating the church services into Spanish for them,” Fonseca said.
Detectives in Arizona would now focus on finding Krause’s killer. Authorities say there was only one cell phone communicating with the same cell towers as Krause’s phone before hers dropped off. It belonged to an airman Mark Gooch stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix. Detectives got a search warrant and say they confirmed Gooch was at Sunset Crater around the time Krause went missing.
They also found a string of disturbing text messages in his phone where Gooch allegedly talks about surveilling Mennonites. In messages sent just days before Krause’s disappearance, Gooch is accused of writing:
“Hmm, same for some reason. Even this morning’s surveillance was boring.”
“A bunch of old people without much to live for.”
“Clearly not the people we grew up with. Sad to say another disappointment.”
That’s when detectives paid the 21-year-old a visit at the Luke Air Force Base to see what he could tell them about Sasha’s abduction and murder.
- Report: Bullet that killed New Mexico Mennonite woman fired from airman’s rifle
- Cell phone records lead police to alleged murderer of Mennonite woman
- Second arrest made in connection to murder of Sasha Krause
- Brother of airman pleads not guilty to aiding in killing of Sasha Krause