Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Colorado


An autopsy on the body of a tribal member who lived in Aztec and was last seen at work in Ignacio, Colo., Feb. 9 shows the woman was murdered, but Southern Ute police are releasing few details. The body of Brenda Chavez, 40, was found May 9 in her car outside of Ignacio. Police Chief Roger Naranjo said May 15 no other information will be released because of the ongoing investigation. "We believe the body has been there since the day it was missing,'' Naranjo said. Three months after Chavez disappeared, three children on 4-wheelers came upon her vehicle down a steep embankment about 200 feet about 1.5 miles outside Ignacio. The body was inside. The FBI and Southern Ute police officers have been trying to determine Chavez's movements between the last time she was seen until she was killed. At first her disappearance was treated as a missing persons case. A missing persons report showed Chavez intended to drive home Feb. 9 from work at the tribe's environmental programs department in Ignacio, but never arrived. Posters about her were distributed throughout the area and air and ground searches were conducted.