AP NEWS

Navajo veteran missing from New Mexico; boyfriend in custody

June 29, 2019
1 of 3
This undated photo provided by the Farmington (N.M.) Police Department shows Cecilia Finona, 59, who has been missing since around May 30, 2019. Finona's daughter says the family has logged searches for her in town and the nearby Navajo Nation. (Farmington Police Department via AP)

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A missing Navajo woman’s relatives are nearing the one-month mark in their search for the grandmother of eight and military veteran, while her boyfriend is jailed on accusations he used her ATM card after her disappearance.

Cecelia Finona, 59, was last seen the evening of May 30 at her Farmington home, where her mother and boyfriend also live, according to police. In court documents, her mother recalled that Finona and her boyfriend, Jerry Jay, had been arguing that evening and then someone left the house in the middle of the night.

Investigators say foul play is suspected in her disappearance.

The public defenders’ office did not respond to requests for comment on Jay’s behalf.

“The Farmington Police Department is very concerned for the safety of Cecelia Finona,” Chief Steve Hebbe said in a statement Thursday. “Based on Jerry Jay’s actions up to this point, we do believe he is a person of interest in this case and holds information that is extremely important to ensuring her safe return.”

According to a court document, Jay used Finona’s ATM card several times, with the first withdrawal made around 6 a.m. May 31 in Farmington and the next at around 9:30 a.m. the same day in Window Rock, Arizona. Window Rock is the capital of the Navajo Nation.

He also used her debit card the following two days in Las Vegas and Kingman, Arizona, according to police. The total withdrawn amounted to more than $1,200.

Police said surveillance footage did not show Finona with him.

Jay, 57, is jailed in Reno, Nevada, where he was arrested on a count out of New Mexico of unlawful withdrawal from a financial institution. He has not been charged in her disappearance, and court documents in New Mexico do not provide further information about police interviews with him.

A missing persons report was filed for Finona on June 1, when her mother told others she hadn’t been home in two days. Her family has since logged searches in Farmington and the nearby Navajo Nation, her daughter Julietta Finona said.

The daughter said the family found blood at Finona’s home and reported it to police. She also said her aunt’s dog led them to her mother’s eyeglass lens on the property.

Police note in court documents that the blood at the home stretched from the bottom of the porch to Finona’s gravel driveway and that someone had tried to cover it with potting soil. A “single eyeglass lens covered in blood” also was found, the officer said.

Julietta Finona, who lives in Olympia, Washington, said she and her mother are close and the last time they spoke was the morning before she disappeared. Cecelia Finona had been excited about her nephew’s recent graduation, her daughter said.

Finona had returned to New Mexico after 31 years in the U.S. Army. In March, she was featured in the Farmington Daily Times in a story about women in the military being honored in Shiprock.

“She was very active and involved in the community,” Julietta Finona said.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.