Body of Missing Army Vet ID'd 2 Years After She Vanished, Boyfriend Charged with Murder
Cecelia Barber Finona, 59, disappeared after an argument in May 2019 with her boyfriend, and DNA just identified her remains that were found six months ago
Human remains found six months ago in Nevada have been identified as those of an indigenous New Mexico woman and Army veteran who went missing two years ago, and authorities have now charged a former boyfriend with her alleged kidnap and murder.
Cecelia "CeCe" Barber Finona, 59, was last seen by family members on May 30, 2019, police in Farmington, N.M., say in a news release.
An argument had unfolded that night between Finona and her boyfriend, Jerry Jay, according to Finona's mother, who lived with the couple, reports NBC News. Two days later the mother reported Finona missing after finding her purse and driver's license still in the home, while her daughter and her daughter's white Ford truck had vanished along with Jay.
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"Evidence found at the home led Farmington detectives to be very concerned for the safety of Cecelia," police said.
Court documents described potting soil sprinkled in an apparent effort to hide a blood trail that stretched from the porch to the driveway; police also turned up a single blood-covered eyeglass lens, according to NBC News.
Authorities tracked Jay's alleged use of Finona's debit card to make withdrawals totaling more than $1,200 in Farmington; Window Rock and Kingman, Ariz.; and Las Vegas. He was arrested on June 5, 2019, in Sparks, Nev., on charges of possession of a credit card without owner's consent and fraudulent use of a credit or debit card, police said.
The human remains later identified as Cecilia through DNA testing were discovered in Clark County, Nev., last February.
Jay, 59, has been detained in Clark County since his arrest on the credit card charges. The additional charges of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and tampering with evidence were filed against him on Friday.
It was not immediately clear if he'd entered a plea or was represented by an attorney.
"Today we have very mixed feelings," Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said in a statement confirming the DNA findings. "This marks the ending of two years of searching, and we're deeply saddened at the outcome. We will continue working as we have since the day she disappeared to ensure the person responsible for this is held accountable. We offer our most heartfelt condolences to Cecelia's family and friends."
Finona was a 31-year Army veteran described by family and friends as "a good-hearted person who cared about people and a leader in the community who made a difference," according to the chief's statement.
A Facebook group, "Bring CeCe Home," took note of the DNA confirmation, posting, "With the support, energy, and relentless effort of family, friends and loved ones bringing Cecelia Finona [home] has came true. It has been 2 long years with every emotion spent. We are relieved to bring closure to many and finally lay her to rest."