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.