Now, her family hopes to finally get her the proper memorial. On May 2, 2016, 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike and her 9-year-old brother stepped foot off the school bus in Shiprock and were tricked into getting into a van driven by Tom Begaye. Her little brother was found hours later wandering the desert alone.
But Ashlynne never made it home. Police found her body the next day, she had been sexually assaulted, strangled, and beaten with a tire iron.
“If I could reach out to heaven and grab her hands, I would,” said Pamela Foster, Ashlynne’s mother. “If I had the opportunity to go into those pearly gates and meet her and hold her for a while, I definitely would.”
Foster has been keeping her daughter’s memory alive with an annual “Ashlynne Walk” where the community walks and runs in her honor as well as getting legislation passed for “Ashlynne’s Law” which advocates for having an Amber Alert system and training in place within the Navajo Nation when children are missing, which wasn’t the case back in 2016. “She’s definitely a beacon of light for all Indigenous children and their families, she’s paved a way through the Amber Alert,” said Foster.
Although the family has done so much to keep Ashlynne’s memory alive, they’ve yet to get her a proper headstone for her grave which is located at a family gravesite on the Navajo Nation. Foster has picked out a large heart gravestone flanked by two angels. However money is tight, so a friend made a GoFundMe page to help with costs – to honor the little girl who was taken too soon.
“We still say her name in our family prayers and there’s not one day that we consider her gone,” said Foster. “We may not see her face, but she’s always with us.”
Any additional donations will be given to a non-profit that helps the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women. Begaye is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping and murder of Ashlynne Mike.