The last time Tanya Begay spoke to her mother she had called early one morning in March 2017, saying she planned to travel from the tiny Arizona town of Leupp back to her family’s home near Gallup, New Mexico — a drive that should’ve taken just a few hours, from one part of the vast Navajo Nation to another.
A day earlier, Begay had made a stop near Tohatchi, New Mexico, to visit a relative’s home with her boyfriend, marking the last time any of her relatives had seen her, according to a police report. Her mother reported her disappearance to officers in at least three different towns, including Gallup, where Begay had an apartment.
“At first, we were just like, ‘OK, well she probably just went to Phoenix or somewhere like that,’” says Eliza Toddy, a longtime friend of Begay’s. ”‘She’ll be back.’”
But a police report says Begay’s mother believed she might be in danger.
The 37-year-old Navajo woman, whom Toddy described as “bubbly,” has two children. She had been close to her parents, and liked to text or call family and friends frequently before she vanished, Toddy said.