Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — The girlfriend of a man who police say confessed this week to killing her, his roommate and three other people whose bodies were found dismembered in a burning dumpster in Texas was reported missing in 2017 after not returning from a trip with him to Arizona, the woman's relative said.

Jason Thornburg, 41, was arrested Monday on a capital murder charge in the deaths of the three people found in the dumpster last week in Fort Worth, Texas. He told officers that he'd felt compelled to sacrifice those three people, as well as his roommate in Fort Worth in May and his girlfriend, according to an arrest warrant.

His girlfriend's name was redacted in the warrant, but a relative told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she was Tanya Begay, Navajo, from Gallup, New Mexico. Sheryl Tsosie said Wednesday that Begay disappeared while taking a trip with Thornburg.

“We didn’t want to believe he had killed her," Tsosie told the newspaper.

The Associated Press reported on Begay’s disappearance in 2018, as part of a series of stories on missing Native American women and how authorities can better pursue their cases.

Thornburg was being held Thursday on $1 million bond. Jail records did not list an attorney for him.

During his interview with police on Monday, Thornburg told officers that he had in-depth knowledge of the Bible and believed he was being called to “commit sacrifices,” according to the arrest warrant.

The AP reported that the last time Begay spoke to her mother was in March 2017. Begay told her mother that she planned to travel from the tiny Arizona town of Leupp back to her family’s home near Gallup, New Mexico — a drive through the Navajo Nation that should’ve taken a few hours.

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A day earlier, Begay had made a stop near Tohatchi, New Mexico, to visit a relative’s home with her boyfriend, marking the last time any of her relatives had seen her, according to a police report.

Messages left with police in the Navajo Nation and Gallup seeking more information were not immediately returned Thursday.

Thornburg, an electrician’s apprentice, had been staying in a motel in the Fort Worth suburb of Euless since late July, according to the arrest warrant.

Police said that when they identified Thornburg as a suspect in the deaths of the three people found in the dumpster, they were already familiar with him from a suspicious death investigation earlier this year.

According to the arrest warrant, Thornburg’s roommate was killed in a suspicious house fire on May 21. During the police interview on Monday, Thornburg told officers he had slit his roommate’s throat, uncapped a natural gas line and lit a candle, the warrant said. At the time, the medical examiner wasn't able to determine his roommate’s cause of death.

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