Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Body found in February identified through DNA as missing New Mexico woman Cecelia Barber Finona two years after she disappeared; boyfriend charged with her murder

A body discovered in Nevada earlier this year has been identified as a New Mexico woman missing since 2019 – and her boyfriend is facing murder and kidnapping charges, the Farmington Police Department announced Friday.

Cecelia Barber Finona, a 59-year-old US Army veteran, was last seen on May 30, 2019.

The Navajo woman’s remains were found in February 2021 in Clark County, Nevada and were identified through DNA on June 30, according to the police department’s press release.

Cecelia Barber Finona

On Friday, authorities also announced that Cecelia’s boyfriend, Jerry Jay, has been charged with her kidnapping and murder. He is still in custody on charges from June of 2019.

Cecelia was last seen by family members on May 30, 2019 and was reported missing on June 1, 2019. Evidence found at the home they shared led Farmington detectives to be very concerned for the Cecelia’s safety.

Jay was arrested on June 5 after he used Cecelia’s debit card at an ATM in Las Vegas, Nevada. He also used her cards in Farmington, New Mexico, Window Rock, Arizona and Kingman, Arizona, police said. The total withdrawn was more than $1,200.

Farmington Police say foul play was suspected from the beginning. Family members told police the couple had been arguing the night she went missing.

According to court documents, blood at Finona’s home stretched from the bottom of the porch to the driveway and it appeared someone had tried to cover it with potting soil. A “single eyeglass lens covered in blood” also was found, police said.

Farmington detectives have been working closely with several law enforcement agencies, including Sparks Police Department and Las Vegas Metro Police Department, in their search for Cecelia since she went missing in late May of 2019.

On Friday, July 2, police filed the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and tampering with evidence against Jerry Jay.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe issued the following statement regarding this case,

“Today we have very mixed feelings,” Chief Hebbe said in a statement. “This marks the ending of two years of searching, and we’re deeply saddened at the outcome. We will continue working as we have since the day she disappeared to ensure the person responsible for this is held accountable. We offer our most heartfelt condolences to Cecelia’s family and friends.”

Cecelia was featured in Dateline NBC’s “Missing in America” in July of 2019. Her daughter, Julietta Faria, told Dateline the last time she spoke to her mother was the day before she disappeared. She added that Cecelia had been excited for her nephew’s upcoming graduation.

Cecelia had just returned to New Mexico after 31 years in the US Army. Months before her disappearance, she was featured in the Farmington Daily Times in a story about women in the military being honored in Shiprock. Her family described her as a good-hearted person who cared about people and a leader in the community who made a difference.

In light of the news, Cecelia’s family posted a statement to the Facebook page “Bring Cece Home.”

“We will Bring Cece Home!!! With the support, energy, and relentless effort of family, friends and loved ones bringing Cecelia Finona has came true. It has been spent 2 long years with every emotion. We are relieved to bring closure to many and finally lay her to rest.”

Anyone with more information about Cecelia’s case is asked to contact Detective Daven Badoni at 505-599-1005 or the Farmington Police Department tip hotline at 505-599-1068.

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