For Immediate Release:
September 8, 2022
Contact: Jerri Mares – (505) 321-4372
FARMINGTON — Today, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Rick Tedrow announced that Jerry Jay pled guilty to the first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder of Cecelia Finona. Jay faces up to 33 years in prison at sentencing, which will be held after Jay undergoes a forensic evaluation.
“As we continue to fight for justice and help bring closure to Cecelia’s family, New Mexico still has a long way to go in helping Indigenous families impacted by violent crime,” said Attorney General Balderas.
On May 31, 2019, Jay struck Ms. Finona, a 59-year-old Army veteran of Navajo descent, on the head with a blunt object after an argument. He then put her in the backseat of her truck and fled New Mexico. Ms. Finona bled to death in her truck as Jay drove through Arizona, Nevada, and California. Eventually, he returned to Nevada to dispose of Ms. Finona’s body in a remote culvert outside Las Vegas. Her body was not discovered until February 23, 2021. During his flight from New Mexico, Jay also used Ms. Finona’s credit cards to steal money from her account.
“My office is gratified that we could help this family find justice for the tragic murder of their loved one,” said District Attorney Tedrow. “I also appreciate the work of the Attorney General’s office in shining a spotlight on these cases, which are too often forgotten or overlooked.”
This case was part of a complex multi-year, multi-agency, and multi-jurisdictional collaborative investigation spearheaded by the Farmington Police Department with cooperation from the Sparks (Nevada) Police Department, Washoe County (Nevada) Sheriff’s Office, and the Las Vegas (Nevada) Police Metropolitan Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Mark Probasco and Jesse Pecoraro from the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General and Assistant District Attorneys Theresa Walker and Ian Jump from the Eleventh Judicial District Attorney’s Office.