Trusted local news leader for Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon
Thu, Aug. 18

Charlie Malzahn to be sentenced for 2017 murder in Williams

Charlie Malzahn, 32, pleaded guilty in June 2022 to first-degree murder, abandonment of a body and other charges in the death of Cathryn Gorospe. (FPD/photos)

Charlie Malzahn, 32, pleaded guilty in June 2022 to first-degree murder, abandonment of a body and other charges in the death of Cathryn Gorospe. (FPD/photos)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A man who killed an Arizona elementary school teacher after she bailed him out of jail is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Charlie Malzahn, 32, pleaded guilty in June to first-degree murder, abandonment of a body and other charges in the death of Cathryn Gorospe. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 12 in Coconino County Superior Court in Flagstaff.

Prosecutors agreed to drop capital punishment as a sentencing option for Malzahn in exchange for his pleas.

Gorospe, 44, went missing in October 2017 after posting bond for Malzahn, who was jailed in Coconino County and had at least three prior felony convictions for crimes that spanned the state. She put up her house as collateral and had hoped to help Malzahn curb drug addictions and straighten out his life.

Instead, he stabbed her multiple times near Williams, where the two met. He was the stepson of a police chief and working at a restaurant, and Gorospe was working a summer job as a tour guide in the town that's about an hour from the Grand Canyon, where she had rafted the river and often hiked.

Malzahn later was seen driving Gorospe's blood-stained SUV in Phoenix and was arrested after fleeing from law enforcement. He gave authorities details and directions that narrowed the search for Gorospe's body.

Gorospe's remains were found on private property in Mayer, about 85 miles south of Williams. Along with multiple stab wounds, she had broken ribs and defensive wounds. The remains were identified using dental records.

Gorospe's father, Ray, and only brother, Cory, visited the site July 12 that was encircled with stones and dotted with green pinwheels. Her family and friends planned to wear green at the court hearing to honor Gorospe's love for the Green Bay Packers and necklaces her father had made after she died with a Mickey Mouse and a green emerald.

"She was a smart and fun person who was driven in any project she took on," her stepmother Deidre Gorospe told The Associated Press. "And unfortunately she had this flawed belief that anybody could be rescued with enough kindness and compassion. And while that served the kids she taught and the pets she rescued, unfortunately with her murderer, it cost her her life."

The Gorospe family will see Malzahn for the first time in person July 12. Some of them have written him off. For others, being in the same courtroom will reignite feelings of anger and anxiety over what he's done, Deidre Gorospe said.

Freya Gorospe, Cathryn Gorospe's sister-in-law, said her three children have great memories of their aunt and have been greatly affected by her death.

"I'm wanting to make the point that I'll never be able to forgive him for taking the innocence from them, having to know what murder is at such a young age," she told the AP.

Gorospe grew up in California but moved to Arizona to attend college and stayed, teaching elementary school children in the Phoenix area and frequently visiting the northern part of the state.

Gorospe and Malzahn dated for about a month before she bailed him out of jail, according to records. Gorospe tried to set boundaries to ensure he sought help for substance abuse and he would get a job, Deidre Gorospe said.

Malzahn has spent the last few years jailed in Maricopa County on separate charges and at the state psychiatric hospital to ensure he was competent to proceed with the murder case in Coconino County.

Related Stories

Donate Report a Typo Contact