FARMINGTON, N.M. — The body of a missing New Mexico Army veteran has been discovered in Nevada and now her boyfriend is charged with murder, according to law enforcement authorities.
Cecelia Barber Finona, a 59-year-old US Army veteran, and her boyfriend, Jerry Jay, both went missing from Farmington, N.M. in late May 2019. Evidence at the home led detectives to be “very concerned” for the Navajo woman’s safety, Farmington Police said in a statement on Friday.
Although Finona remained missing, Jay was arrested by the Sparks Police Department in Nevada on June 5, 2019. He was charged with possession of a credit card without the owner’s consent and fraudulent use of a credit or debit card.
Jay was accused of using Finona’s debit card in Las Vegas, as well as at locations in New Mexico and Arizona totaling more than $1,200, NBC News reported.
“Remains were located in Clark County, Nevada, by a citizen in February of 2021; those remains were identified as Cecelia through DNA on June 30, 2021,” according to police.
Jay, 69, has been charged with Finona’s murder. He has consistently been the focus of the investigation.
“Today we have very mixed feelings,” Farmington police Chief Steve Hegge said. “This marks the ending of two years of searching, and we’re deeply saddened at the outcome. We will continue working as we have since the day she disappeared to ensure the person responsible for this is held accountable.”
Court documents indicate blood was found on the couple’s porch in Farmington leading out to driveway. Someone tried to hide the blood trail with potting soil. Police also found a single eyeglass lens “covered in blood.”
Relatives told investigators the couple had been arguing prior to Finona’s disappearance, Fox News reported.
Finona lived at the home with Jay and her mother, where she was the woman’s primary caretaker, according to the Farmington Daily Times.
NBC’s “Dateline” covered the story in 2019. Julietta Faria, Finona’s daughter, said her mother had just returned to New Mexico following a 31-year career in the Army. The vet was readying to celebrate her nephew’s upcoming graduation when she suddenly disappeared, NBC News reported.
Jay has been in custody since the 2019 arrest in Nevada. According to New Mexico police, they’ve filed charges of murder, kidnapping, and evidence tampering against him on July 2, 2021.
Family and friends described Finona as a good-hearted person who cared about people and a leader in the community who made a difference.