December 5, 1987
Navajo Department of Public Safety
The bodies of Officer Begay and Officer Stanley were discovered inside a burned-out tribal police vehicle in Copper Canyon, an isolated area near Lake Powell. The two officers were handcuffed and shot, but had in fact died as a result of the fire. Subsequent investigation revealed that during the night Officer Stanley, 27, had been overpowered by the participants of an alcohol party near Goulding, Utah. He was then forced to call Officer Begay, 35, to the scene. Upon arrival of the second officer, both victims were shot and placed in the rear of one of their patrol units. Their vehicles were driven into Copper Canyon with the intention of dumping them into Lake Powell. However, when the vehicles became stuck in the sand, they were set ablaze. Although cultural differences hampered the investigation, four suspects were arrested three months later and charged with the murders. The case against one suspect was eventually dropped. One suspect was acquitted. The remaining two defendants were convicted of first-degree murder. Both are serving life sentences in federal prison. Officer Begay was married and the father of four children. He is buried in Blanding City Cemetery. His bronze name plaque is sponsored by San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputies.