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Press Release

US Attorney’s Office Charges Labar Tsethlikai for Murder of Navajo Man

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

ALBUQUERQUE – A Zuni man made an initial appearance on his Indictment related to the murder of a member of the Navajo Nation and is considered the prime suspect in a series of crimes targeting Native American men in Gallup, Zuni, and Albuquerque. He will remain in custody pending his detention hearing and arraignment, which is set for May 1, 2024.

Labar Tsethlikai, 51, an enrolled member of the Zuni Pueblo, is charged with murdering John Doe on January 18, 2024. John Doe was found deceased the next morning in a remote area of the Zuni Reservation on Route 7, approximately 300 yards eastbound of State Highway 602.

Prior to the murder, John Doe was last seen along East Highway 66 in Gallup, New Mexico.  

According to court records, Tsethlikai is linked to a string of murders, kidnappings, robberies, sexual abuses, and assaults, in both Indian Country and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area between May 2023 and April 2024. Through the investigation, 10 other potential victims have been identified, with 7 crimes occurring within Indian Country, 1 crime involving the victim being transported from Indian Country to Albuquerque, and 3 crimes occurring in the Albuquerque area. One other victim is believed to have died after being kidnapped.

Investigators tied Tsethlikai to the crimes through a common modus operandi, victim statements, video surveillance, EBT records, DNA analysis, and advanced cellular phone tracking.  This comprehensive evidence placed Tsethlikai at or around each victim, including John Doe, during the relevant time periods. 

If convicted, Tsethlikai faces up to life in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office, made the announcement today.

The Gallup Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit and Air Support Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew J. McGinley, Mark A. Probasco, and Eliot Neal are prosecuting the case.

The FBI continues to investigate Tsethlikai’s involvement in crimes against other victims. If you have reason to believe you or someone you know may be a victim, or have information about Tsethlikai, please call the FBI at (505) 889-1300 or submit tips online at tips.fbi.gov.

Labar Tsethlikai is approximately 5’7” and weighs 180 pounds. He is heavyset, has short brown hair, brown eyes, and wears glasses. He sometimes wears a gold bracelet. He is from Zuni, but travels extensively around New Mexico, including Gallup, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. He is believed to work in the Native American jewelry industry and may be a Zuni jewely artist.

 

 

Tsethlikai drives a gold/brown Chevy Silverado, single cab truck, with dual exhaust, bearing license plate number WNMU0043.