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Press Release

Brimhall Man Pleads Guilty to Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Gilbert John, Jr. pled guilty in federal court to second degree murder. John, 35, of Brimhall, New Mexico, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

A federal grand jury indicted John on March 23, 2022, along with a co-defendant. According to publicly available court records, on July 1, 2019, an individual brought a stolen car to John at his apartment in the Sunset Hills complex in Gallup, New Mexico to dispose of and to sell. When John got in the car to test drive it, he heard John Doe from the trunk cry out for help. The individual who brought John the car told John to “get rid of him.” John understood this statement to mean that he should kill John Doe

John and the other individual drove around through the night and into the next evening, smoking methamphetamines, and eventually stopping on the back roads to Bass Lake. John walked away from the car, at which point John Doe opened the trunk from inside and attempted to escape. John slammed the trunk back down on him, sat on the top of the trunk door and asked the other individual for a machete that he had seen inside of the car. The individual gave the machete to John, who opened the trunk and stabbed John Doe repeatedly with the machete. John and the individual then closed the trunk and sat together on top of the trunk. John and the individual remained on the trunk until they stopped hearing movement from inside.

Afterward, John drove the car with John Doe’s body inside of it to a relative’s house in Standing Rock, New Mexico.  Before leaving the car there, John attempted to remove a tracking device, but ended up disabling the car instead.

About ten days later, John asked a friend to tow the car to a remote location north of Church Rock, New Mexico. Once the car had been towed to the location, John released the car and let it roll down a hill out of view of the road and borrowed a gas can which he used to pour gasoline onto the car. John lit the car on fire and left it burning with John Doe’s body inside of it. John did not know John Doe prior to killing him.

On July 16, 2019, charred remnants John Doe’s body were found in the trunk of the car by the McKinley County Fire Department. John Doe was identified only because investigators were able to match serial numbers from John Doe’s medical records to metal hip replacement devices found in the burned-out trunk of the car. The hip replacement devices were the only substantial parts of John Doe’s body that remained after the fire.

In his plea agreement, John expressed remorse for killing John Doe and burning his body. He is facing between seventeen-and-a-half years and twenty-one years in prison at sentencing.

The Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Police Department and Department of Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark A. Probasco and Alexander F. Flores are prosecuting the case.

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Updated February 7, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-64