Airman charged with murder in death of Sunday school teacher

Mark Gooch

Prosecutors in Arizona have filed murder, kidnapping and theft charges against a U.S. Air Force airman suspected in the death of a Sunday school teacher who had been living in New Mexico.

Mark Gooch, 21, was arrested Tuesday at Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, where he was stationed.

Authorities have revealed few details about the killing of 27-year-old Sasha Krause, including whether she knew Gooch.

"Our focus has always been on Sasha and her family, and we know we live in a day and age where everyone wants information right now," Coconino County sheriff’s spokesman Jon Paxton said Wednesday. "Our primary concern is the integrity of this investigation."

Krause had been living among other members of the Mennonite community in Farmington, New Mexico, for about 18 months before she disappeared Jan. 18. Her primary role was in ministry for a publisher that provides Bible study courses, translating material in English, Spanish and French.

She also filled in as a school teacher at the Mennonite church and previously taught in North Texas.

Sasha Krause (San Juan County Sheriff's Office, NM)

Krause's body was found Feb. 24 along a forest road just outside Flagstaff with head injuries and in the same clothing she was wearing when she disappeared weeks earlier, authorities said.

Court documents note a firearm was used to kill her.

Gooch was booked in Maricopa County and will be transferred to Flagstaff. His bond has been set at $1 million, with an arraignment set Friday in Flagstaff Justice Court.

Shawn Hamp, whose law firm is representing Gooch, declined to comment on the case, saying "it’s brand new and we’re processing it right now."

A Luke Air Force Base spokesman said they couldn't release any information about the case involving Gooch, who listed a previous address in northern Wisconsin.

The base said Gooch was assigned to Luke last October after completing technical training and was in the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron.

"The Air Force is cooperating with the law enforcement officials who are conducting the investigation," Luke spokesman Brian Bahret said in a statement Wednesday night. "At this time it is premature to discuss the potential outcome of this investigation."

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is aiding sheriff's officials in the case, said Linda Card, a spokeswoman for the office.