A body found in Arizona has been identified as a Mennonite woman who vanished more than a month ago, and police say she was kidnapped and murdered.
When Sasha Krause went missing Jan. 18 from her hometown of Farmington, New Mexico, the San Juan County sheriff’s office described the disappearance as “suspicious.”
But even though Krause’s car was found in the parking lot of the Farmington Mennonite Church, investigators were not sure then if she left of her own volition or had been abducted.
Members of the church, however, were sure it was foul play.
“We were convinced from the start that it was an abduction because we are a close-knit community. We know our people. We knew her integrity,” Samuel Coon, an editor at Lamp & Light Publishers, where Krause worked, told The Daily Beast.
“Sasha was a person of deep integrity, very level-headed. There is no one I would have less expected this to happen to,” he said.
Repeated aerial and canine searches turned up no trace of the 27-year-old, and a $50,000 reward offered by a police foundation did not yield any credible tips.
Then, over the weekend, the New Mexico authorities were notified that a camper found a body matching Krause’s description near Sunset Crater National Monument outside Flagstaff, Arizona. An autopsy completed Monday made a positive identification; no cause of death was released.
“To Sasha’s family, I give my heartfelt condolences,” San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari said in a Facebook video Tuesday.
“Our investigation now transitions to a criminal investigation... in trying to identify and apprehend the individual responsible for Sasha’s kidnap and murder” the sheriff said, adding that federal authorities were joining the probe.
Krause grew up in Grandview, Texas, the eldest of seven children. She was a bookworm who loved teaching herself new things. She learned Spanish on her own and volunteered to go to New Mexico to work for the publishing company, which distributes Bible correspondence courses in foreign languages.
“She was loving it. She’d found her niche in life,” her father, Robert Krause, told The Daily Beast.
He said that when the family first learned Sasha was missing, they didn’t know what to think.
“Your mind can go lots of different directions,” he said. “It was very hard to find out where we are at today, that she’s passed on, but the uncertainty might have been harder.”
The family was gathered together, swapping stories about Sasha and going through photo albums in preparation for a funeral this weekend. Her father said they were taking solace in a letter she wrote home a few months ago about the Book of Job and “how we don’t always understand what God’s higher purposes are.”
“Her testimony was so clear that we are very confident she is in heaven so that helps relieve the grief we might have felt if there was a question about that,” he said.
Coon said the Farmington church—which has about 150 regular congregants—will have a memorial service for Krause at some point.
“The impact it’s having on the community is that we know somebody wished it for ill but we are convinced God will use this for good,” Coon said.