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Police: Body of teacher was found in Mayer; memorial vigil set for Sunday

Police have identified the location where the body of a Glendale kindergarten teacher was found Friday as Mayer, a small town midway between Dewey and Cordes Junction on state Highway 69.

The body of Cathryn Gorospe was found on private property near Nugget Mine Road by Flagstaff Police and Yavapai County Sheriff’s Deputies.

The Yavapai County Medical Examiner has declared the death a homicide, according to Flagstaff Police Spokesman Sgt. Cory Runge.

Gorospe was last seen alive on October 6, when she bailed Malzahn out of Coconino County Jail for an auto theft he allegedly committed on August 20. Malzahn stole his sister’s car at gunpoint in Tempe, leaving his sister and her children stranded on Interstate 10. He was arrested in Williams later that night.

The primary suspect in Gorospe’s death, Charlie Malzahn, 27, gave police details and directions on Gorospe’s location, police said. He was arrested Oct. 9 while driving Gorospe’s blood-stained Rav4.

Runge said that police are confident that the body found is Gorospe’s because Malzahn led law enforcement officers to the body and the deceased person matched the physical description of the missing teacher. The body was found with the same clothes as Gorospe was wearing on the night of her disappearance on October 6.

Police are waiting on DNA testing to confirm the identity of the victim “beyond a doubt,” Runge said. No information on the likely cause of death or the murder weapon has been released.

Malzahn is currently in the custody of Phoenix Police on assault charges unrelated to Gorospe’s death. Runge said that although Malzahn has not been charged with a crime regarding Gorospe, police are working closely with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office regarding potential charges.

However, law enforcement officials believe the location of Gorospe’s body is not the same as the location of her murder, which is creating jurisdictional issues for police. Police believe Gorospe was killed in either Yavapai or Coconino counties.

“She was reported missing in Flagstaff but we found a body in Yavapai County,” Runge said. “Dumping a body is a crime but it does not supersede homicide. We are trying to locate the area where the murder occurred and that will determine jurisdiction on this case.”

Coconino County Attorney Bill Ring expressed the same jurisdictional concerns as the police in his written statement.

“The criminal matter remains under investigation and covers several law enforcement jurisdictions. Flagstaff Police Department’s contribution represents outstanding police work,” Ring wrote. “The suspect is in custody in Maricopa County and is facing charges that occurred later in this regrettable sequence of events. When the investigation into incidents in Coconino County is completed our Office will evaluate the case for charging. All matters occurring here and elsewhere will be taken into consideration.”

Ring also expressed his condolences to Gorospe’s family.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Ms. Gorospe. Their strength during this time of loss is an example for us all.”

Runge did not elaborate on Gorospe and Malzahn’s relationship, which he had previously described as “romantic,” stating that he did not think it was relevant to their homicide investigation.

Several residents in Williams stated that Gorospe and Malzahn spent time together over the summer and described their relationship as friendly. She worked as a tour guide at the Grand Canyon Railway, he as a waiter in a local restaurant after completing a 4.5-year prison term in June.

Malzahn’s stepfather is the Williams chief of police, who has said he has had little contact with his stepson in the past decade. He has delegated all police matters regarding his stepson, who has an extensive criminal record, to other officers in the department.

Benji Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

Carli Yamamoto and Cammie Eastman of Flagstaff  enjoy the fine fall weather Tuesday afternoon at Viola’s Pumpkin Patch off State Route 89 just south of Fort Tuthill. For more photos, see page A10.

Benji Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

Flagstaff's Reece Honanie (10) blocks the ball Tuesday night during a match against Mohave in the War Memorial Gymnasium.

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ACA enrollment begins November 1; Blue Cross sets lower premiums

As politicians continue to debate health care at the national level, the window for open enrollment into the healthcare marketplace is approaching for individuals and businesses.

The biggest change consumers will notice this year, Ed Gussio, Vice President and Partner of Crest Insurance Group, said, is a condensed enrollment period, which will only last from November 1 through December 15. The customer service call center will also not be open as frequently to call with questions.

Blue Cross Blue Shield remains the only carrier on the exchange for Coconino County, and plans on the exchange require referrals to see specialists, Gussio said. Plans have not changed substantially since last year.

Premiums are an average of 1 percent lower this year, Gussio said, though he said customers should not expect to see their rates decrease the same amount.

“That doesn’t mean people’s rates are going down because these are age-based and everyone is a year older,” Gussio said.

When renewing a policy on the healthcare exchange, Gussio said it is important to update expected income level each year. The exchange offers two types of subsidies based on income that can decrease a person’s premiums or lower copays and deductibles.

If a person qualified for those subsidies last year, but had a change of income this year and does not update income information, they could owe the money back later.

“If your income turned out to be higher than when you applied last year; then when you do your taxes, you could have to pay that money back to the government when you file,” Gussio said. “If your income has gone down, you could get some back when you file your taxes.”

In an executive order last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to loosen restrictions on short term plans, allow insurance sales across state lines and allow “association health plans” that can be sponsored by an employer or group/

Last week, Trump said he wanted to end the government’s payments to insurers for cost-sharing plans, the type of subsidy that offers people discounted deductibles and copayments. However, Tuesday a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate proposed extending the payments for two years.

So far, Gussio said, the changes in subsidies have not prompted Blue Cross Blue Shield to change any plans or pricing for the cost-sharing plans it offers.

Gussio said he recommends businesses shop around for different options through the marketplace, and said if a business does not offer insurance, this could be a good year to look at the options due to the cost and what is available this year.

For those who have questions about individual or business plans, Gussio said his office has seven licensed agents in northern Arizona who can answer questions about coverage.

“When people call into the marketplace, the representative don’t always provide the most accurate information,” Gussio said. “It’s a call center, and it has people trying their very best, but they might have less experience than a licensed agent, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our office for assistance.”