Ex-U.S. Airman Abducted and Murdered Mennonite Woman While She Was Preparing for Sunday School

Mark Gooch was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Sasha Krause

Mark Gooch Sasha Krause
Sasha Krause and Mark Gooch . Photo: San Juan County Sheriff's Office; Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

An Air Force airman has been found guilty in the 2020 abduction and murder of a Mennonite Sunday school teacher, whose body was found in a wooded area of Arizona, hundreds of miles away from her home in New Mexico.

On Wednesday, after deliberating for less than a day, a jury convicted Mark Gooch of kidnapping and first-degree murder for the 2020 killing of 27-year-old Sasha Krause, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.

Krause was reported missing on Jan. 18 from the Mennonite Community in Farmington, N.M. She mysteriously vanished after running an errand at the Farmington Mennonite Church where she was preparing to teach Sunday school, according to AZFamily.com.

No one saw her being abducted or killed.

On Feb. 22, police discovered Krause's lifeless body by a camper near Sunset Crater National Monument in Flagstaff, Ariz., according to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

She had suffered blunt head trauma and was shot in the back of the head. She was found with her wrists bound with duct tape, the court heard, AZFamily reports.

During the time Krause was missing, detectives with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office used cell phone records and surveillance video to learn Gooch had traveled from Luke Air Force Base, where he lives, to Farmington. He was arrested in April 2020.

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There was no evidence that Krause knew her killer. During the trial, prosecutors said investigators had discovered texts between Gooch and his brother that indicated resentment towards the Mennonite community, which Gooch had grown up in but later rejected, according to AZFamily.

Before her death, Krause taught school for six years at a Mennonite community in Grandview, Texas, before moving to Farmington, where she worked in a publishing ministry.

In addition to murder, Gooch was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of theft.

Gooch now faces life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 24.

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