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Airman convicted of kidnapping and killing 27-year-old Mennonite teacher

A gavel sits in the Luke Air Force Base courtroom. (U.S. Air Force/Released)

An Air Force base airman was convicted Wednesday of kidnapping a Mennonite woman outside her New Mexico church, driving her to a clearing in Arizona, tying her wrists, hitting her in the head with a rifle and then shooting her.

Mark Gooch, 22, was found guilty of the kidnapping and first-degree murder of 27-year-old Sasha Krause, who disappeared from her Farmington community in January 2020 and was found dead more than a month later, 300 miles and a state away.

Gooch never testified, but prosecutors painted a picture of a man who turned away from the Mennonite religion in which he was raised before enlisting, but one who stayed bitter and angry.

Investigators found no ties between Gooch and Krause other than their religion. Instead, they believe that Gooch drove until he found a Mennonite church.

“What the scripture says is you turn from darkness to light,” his father, Jim Gooch, said on the stand. “What it says is you’ve decided to follow the lord with your entire heart and with the tenets of the scripture would call for.”

Mark, he said, had turned away from God.

A camper in search of firewood near the Sunset Volcano Crater National Monument area eventually found Krause’s body about a month after she vanished.

Gooch, who faces up to life in prison, will be sentenced on Nov. 24.

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