Flagstaff police: Missing Glendale teacher's case is a homicide

The Gorospe family visited the area where detectives say they discovered the remains of Cathryn Gorospe in Mayer.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Flagstaff Police Department officially ruled the case of missing Arrowhead Elementary teacher Cathryn Gorospe a homicide Tuesday.

Police said human remains were found in Mayer, Arizona Friday on private property off Nugget Mine Road. The suspect in the case, 27-year-old Charlie Malzahn, gave investigators details and directions, which led law enforcement to narrow the scope of the search.

“There was a violent method used to murder Cathryn,” Flagstaff PD Sgt. Cory Runge said.

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Flagstaff PD said initially Malzhan, the murder suspect, was not cooperative, but later gave detectives information leading them to the body they said was Gorospe's.

 “They went and confirmed that there was a deceased person at that location who met the description of Cathryn Gorospe,” Runge said.

Runge said Malzhan appeared to be in “positive spirits” when speaking with Flagstaff PD staff.

“Detectives had a conversation with him that was rational -- it was reasonable," Runge said. "I didn’t see any information that would indicate to me that he may have some kind of illness or disability to not understand what was happening.

An autopsy has been completed in Yavapai County and determined the manner of death to be a homicide, according to police.

Runge said detectives believe Gorospe was not murdered where the body was found. 

“We are still trying to find the scene of the crime,” Sgt. Runge said. “Some vegetation leads us to believe that she was murdered in a separate location.”

PREVIOUS: School district releases statement on missing Arrowhead teacher after police find remains

Runge said Gorospe and Malzahn met last summer. The Flagstaff sergeant said Malzhan graduated high school in Williams and worked in a restaurant there; Cathryn worked at the Grand Canyon Railway during the summer.

A positive identification of the remains is still pending through DNA testing. Investigators said the testing will take time to process, however police believe the remains are Gorospe's for several reasons. 

Police said the body found matches the physical description of Gorospe, including the clothes she was last seen wearing. Additionally, police are taking into consideration that Malzahn led investigators to the body. 

Gorospe was last seen bailing out Malzahn from Coconino County Jail the evening of Friday, Oct. 6. Malzahn, a convicted felon, was accused of stealing his sister's car and carrying a loaded gun.

We are aware of some stops. We’ve looked at some gas stations in the area. We’ve also become aware of one or two other stops that were made along the way and other people had seen Cathryn after his release from jail,” Runge said.

No charges have been filed at this time, police said.

Malzhan’s sister, Lauren Mossman, told 12 News during the search for Cathryn, she headed to the Maricopa County Jail to speak with her brother about the missing woman.

“I have always been his voice of reason. I’m praying I will break him,” Mossman wrote on a message via Facebook.

Gorospe's brother is all too familiar with Malzhan’s criminal history.

“I know there’s a lot of departments tacking on charges to this guy because he’s obviously a bad person, done a lot of bad things around Arizona," Cory Gorospe said.

Monday, he visited the site where the remains believed to be his sister's were discovered.

In place of those remains were memories left behind by the Gorospe family. Flowers, a cross and a small Green Bay Packers helmet -- all things the family said Cathryn loved and will be remembered by.

“We know where she is and that was our main goal, was to bring her home,” Cory Gorospe said.

A vigil planned for Cathryn Gorospe in Williams is scheduled for Sunday evening at 7 p.m.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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