Stepson of police chief questioned about missing Valley teacher

The chief of Williams police, who is Malzahn's stepfather, had to distance himself from the convicted felon to protect his career.

WILLIAMS, Ariz. – Police said Wednesday that Charlie Malzhan, the man a missing Valley teacher was last seen with, has quite a criminal history in the city of Williams and throughout the state.

Lt. Darrell Hixson with the Williams Police Department said Malzhan is the stepson of Williams PD's chief of police, Herman Nixon.

Hixson said Malzhan’s problems with law enforcement were minor at first.

“Pretty normal, when you’re a juvenile, underage drinking and stuff, but as time went on they got more violent,” Hixson said.

Malzhan’s latest encounter with Williams police was in late August. Lt. Hixson put him behind bars.

“We know his history so well, we opposed release,” Hixson said.

Cathryn Gorospe bailed Malzhan out of the Coconino County jail last weekend. Investigators with the Flagstaff Police Department said the two had been romantically involved. Friday night, when Gorospe helped Malzhan out of jail, that was the last time she was seen.

Tuesday, Sgt. Cory Runge with Flagstaff police said Malzhan wasn’t answering questions about the Glendale woman. They said blood was found inside her Toyota Rav-4 after Malzahn took the vehicle across the state and used her credit cards at a Tucson mall.

Malzhan was arrested in Phoenix early Monday morning following a car chase and crash in Gorospe’s Toyota.

The missing Deer Valley teacher’s family fears the worst.

RELATED: Man connected to Valley teacher's disappearance identified in Tempe carjacking

“She would not disappear. She stays in contact with her family and friends,” her brother, Cory Gorospe said Tuesday.

Her family had reason to be worried. Malzhan is a convicted felon.

“[…] and being a felon, he’s a prohibited possessor from having any kind of firearm,” Lt. Hixson explained.

Hixson said Malzhan had a firearm on him when Hixson arrested him for theft last summer.

“We had information that he had stolen a car from the Phoenix area,” the lieutenant said.

The owner of that car was Malzhan’s sister. The lieutenant took the call.

“I kept the chief out of it because No. 1, he’s a family member and he hasn’t had contact with Charlie in a year and I wanted to keep it that way because that’s the way they wanted it,” Lt. Hixson said.

Hixson said Nixon had been the chief of the Williams Police Department for the last 12 years, after holding the same position with the Clifton Police Department and having been the interim chief of police with the Surprise Police Department.

The lieutenant said the chief and his family tried to steer Malzhan in the right direction for years. Hixson said Malzhan’s biological father spent time in prison.

“It’s no different than any other family. They’ve tried over and over,” Hixson said.

Wednesday, Flagstaff police were still leading the investigation in the search for Cathryn Gorospe. Williams PD was not involved in this case.

Gorospe’s family was in Williams Tuesday and Wednesday, handing out flyers and looking around the area for clues like parts of the white bumper now missing from her Rav-4. They encouraged volunteers to help in the search, asking they not tamper with anything they may find, but instead call police.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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