• A change of plea hearing is set for Tavor Tom on Nov. 24, 2020
• A grand jury indicted Tom on a charge of second-degree murder for allegedly killing his aunt
• Tom told FBI agents he stabbed her seven to eight times and slit her throat
SHIPROCK, N.M. — The Shiprock man who told police he stabbed his aunt and stole her car, before crashing it into a fence on his way to Farmington in 2019, is set for a change of plea hearing on Nov. 24, 2020.
A federal grand jury indicted him on July 9, 2019, on a charge of second-degree murder and his case has been continued at least four times. A jury trial in front of District Judge William Johnson had been set for Jan. 4. 2021.
Tom has been in custody since he was arrested on July 2, 2019. The prosecutor in the case appears to be Joseph Spindle with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
At 10 a.m., July 2, 2019, the victim was found dead in her house by her father. Sometime during that same morning, Tavor Tom was found in the victim’s Jeep Cherokee, after he crashed into a fence in front of a church in Nenahnezad. Navajo Nation police officers found a bloody knife in the car, FBI Agent Cary Cahoon wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant.
During an interrogation, Tom told FBI agents he killed his maternal aunt with a folding knife he took from his father’s vehicle. He intended to go to her house to steal her car so he could drive it to Farmington to steal Mucinex. After he stole it from the store, he drove on the back roads toward Shiprock and he crashed the vehicle into a fence at a church in Nenahnezad. He was found in it the next morning, Cahoon wrote.
For more details on the crash, see the case write-up.
- Suspect: Tavor Tom, 18
- Victim: Unidentified woman (Tom’s maternal aunt)
- Charges: Second-degree murder (initially charged as first-degree murder)
- Status: Plea set for Nov. 24, 2020
- Date of incident: July 1, 2019
- Investigative agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigations, Navajo Nation Criminal Investigation Section
- Location: Single-wide trailer, 25 yards east of Nizhoni Smile Dental, Shiprock, NM
- County: San Juan
- Relation to victim: Nephew (maternal)
- Federal Magistrate case number: 19-mj-01913
- Federal District case number: 19-cr-02180
- Prosecutor: Joseph Spindle
- Plea judge: Kirtan Khalsa
- Sentencing judge: To be determined