Tanya Teresa Begay

Begay, circa 2017; Rose tattoos on Begay's breasts; Jason Thornburg

  • Missing Since 03/03/2017
  • Missing From Tohatchi, New Mexico
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race Native American
  • Date of Birth 12/20/1980 (43)
  • Age 36 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'5, 135 pounds
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Red 2004 Dodge Neon with the New Mexico license plate number GWZ198 (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Native American female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Begay has a scar above her left eyebrow and a small scar under her left eye, and her ears are pierced. She has the following tattoos: a rose on each breast, a feather on her left foot, and a music note behind her right ear. A photo of the rose tattoos is posted with this case summary. She wears a partial top denture plate, and either eyeglasses or contact lenses. Her nicknames are Span and Tan. Begay is of Navajo Indian descent.

Details of Disappearance

Begay was last seen leaving her aunt's house in Tohatchi, New Mexico on March 3, 2017. She was en route from Leupp, Arizona to her family's home in Gallup, New Mexico, a drive of a few hours, when she stopped at her aunt's home. She left with her boyfriend, Jason Thornburg, has never been heard from again.

The vehicle she was driving, her aunt's red 2004 Dodge Neon with the New Mexico license plate number GWZ198, was later found abandoned. Thornberg was questioned by the police, then released. According to Begay's family, he was abusive towards her and has a history of violence.

Days prior to her disappearance, Jason Thornburg, allegedly assaulted Begay with a glass coffeepot. He had a history of domestic violence, dating back to 2014. She filed charges against him, but the they were dropped after she went missing, because she was unavailable to testify.

A photo of Thornburg is posted with this case summary. In December 2021, he was charged with capital murder in the deaths of David Lueras, Lauren Phillips, and Maricruz Mathis, whose dismembered and burned remains were found in a dumpster in Texas several months earlier.

After his arrest, Thornburg confessed to killing Begay and also confessed to the murder of his roommate, Mark Jewell, who was killed in May 2021. He stated the murders were all "human sacrifices" and that it was his mission to serve God. He has not been charged in either of these cases, however.

Begay may still be in the Tohatchi area, or she may be in Albuquerque, Gallup, or Mentmore, New Mexico or Dilkon, Arizona. Her family stated she was close to her parents and frequently called and texted family and friends. She left behind two children and her case remains unsolved.

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 19, 2021; details of disappearance updated.