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Trial still looms for alleged murderer of Cathryn Gorospe

It has been three years since Cathryn Gorospe was murdered. Charlie Malzahn is the primary suspect. (FPD/photos)

It has been three years since Cathryn Gorospe was murdered. Charlie Malzahn is the primary suspect. (FPD/photos)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — It has been almost three years since Glendale kindergarten teacher Cathryn Gorospe was murdered, and suspect Charlie Malzahn remains in custody as prosecutors continue to work through multiple charges against him.

Malzahn is facing a first degree murder charge in Coconino County, but remains jailed in Maricopa County where he is facing additional charges that include kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, unlawful flight from law enforcement and theft of a vehicle, among others for incidents not related to Gorospe’s murder.

Malzahn was indicted by a Coconino County grand jury in April 2019 on several counts, including first degree murder in the death of Gorospe, and will face those charges when the cases in Maricopa County have been resolved, according to Coconino County Attorney William Ring.

“We remain firmly resolved to do our part and bring Mr. Malzahn to justice in Coconino County at the right moment,” Ring said in an email.

It was October 2017 when Gorospe, 44, who worked seasonally in Williams, was murdered.

Gorospe went missing Oct. 6, 2017 after posting bond for Malzahn at the Coconino County jail.

On Oct. 12, family and friends used the Williams Police Department building as headquarters to coordinate a volunteer search party in areas around Williams.

Volunteers began their search in Williams because investigators believed Malzahn and Gorospe left Flagstaff traveling west on I-40 toward Williams.

Malzahn was spotted driving Gorospe’s vehicle in Phoenix Oct. 9 and was subsequently arrested. Gorospe was not in the vehicle. The vehicle had sustained significant damage and the interior was covered in blood.

After Gorospe’s disappearance, law enforcement agencies across multiple jurisdictions began investigating.

When initially interviewed by Phoenix police, Malzahn was evasive about his knowledge of Gorospe, according to police documents.

The interviewing officer said Malzahn at first acted like he didn’t know Gorospe. He then told the officer that Gorospe had “bailed him out of jail,” and then left him at the jail. He further told the officer that Gorospe had left him her car and went home with her roommate.

The officer observed that Malzahn’s eyes were “bloodshot and his pupils were dilated” during the interview.

According to Flagstaff Police Department, Malzahn gave investigators some details and directions about Gorospe’s whereabouts, which led law enforcement to narrow the scope of the Flagstaff Police Department coordinated efforts and resources and Gorospe’s body was found Oct. 13 near Mayer, in Yavapai County.

Although he couldn’t release details without hindering the integrity of the case, Sgt. Cory Runge, a spokesman for Flagstaff Police Department, said law enforcement had evidence indicating Gorospe was murdered in or near Williams.

In November 2017, the Flagstaff Police Department filed a charging request asking Coconino County Attorney’s Office to file charges against Malzahn for the murder of Gorospe.

At that time, Runge said the department requested charges through Coconino County because of evidence indicating Gorospe was murdered somewhere near Williams.

Runge said the exact crime scene had not been located, but detectives believed that Williams was the last place Gorospe was seen alive. He also said vegetation evidence in Gorospe’s car was only found in Williams and one other place in Arizona.

Runge said law enforcement believes Gorospe was injured in her car, possibly exited the car in Williams and then returned to the car.

Malzahn has been the primary suspect in Gorospe’s death and is the last person known to have seen her since she posted bail for him at the Coconino County jail for car theft charges he incurred from an Aug. 20 incident in Williams.

Incidents in Phoenix

Malzahn is facing charges in Phoenix for crimes committed two days after Gorospe’s disappearance. He is charged with aggravated assault after punching an ASU student in her dorm room, and theft of a vehicle after carjacking another student near Apache Boulevard.

He is also facing charges for unlawful flight from officers after failing to stop when Phoenix police officers located Malzahn in Gorospe’s vehicle. An officer discovered the vehicle on Camelback Road and 35th Avenue, and the pursuit eventually involved over 10 police cars and air support until Malzahn stopped at a QT convenience store where he was arrested.

Malzahn acquired additional charges after assaulting two officers while being fingerprinted.

According to police documents, Malzahn allegedly attacked an officer, hit him with the handcuffs and placed his arms and handcuffs around the officer’s head which resulted in a nine-inch laceration to the officer’s head.

The connection to Williams

Malzahn attended Williams High School but dropped out in 2007. He is the stepson of Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon, although Nixon said he has had little contact with Malzahn over the past 10 years. All police matters involving Malzahn were handled by other officers in the department.

Malzahn has been in and out of jail for much of his adult life as he served time for theft, aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

He was released from jail in November 2016 and worked in a Williams restaurant where he met Gorospe, who was working seasonally for the Grand Canyon Railway.

In August 2017, Malzahn was arrested in Williams for stealing a relative’s vehicle and possessing a loaded firearm at the Canyon Club.

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