Airman Sentenced for Kidnap, Murder of Mennonite Woman

Prosecutors say Mark Gooch was driven by hate for the faith he grew up in
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 20, 2022 7:25 AM CST
USAF Airman Gets Life for Murder of Mennonite Woman
This undated photo provided by Robert Krause shows his daughter, Sasha Krause, center, reading a book to children in Farmington, New Mexico.   (Family Photo/Robert Krause via AP)

An Air Force airman has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole in the murder of a Mennonite woman whom he kidnapped from northwestern New Mexico, fatally shot, and left in the freezing cold outside Flagstaff, Ariz. Mark Gooch, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping in October. The body of Sasha Krause, 27, was found face-down in a forest clearing with her hands bound with duct tape on Feb. 21, 2020. She had been shot in the head. Krause had not been seen since Jan. 18. Her vehicle was found abandoned the next day outside the church where she taught Sunday school. Gooch expressed no emotion when he was sentenced Wednesday in Coconino County Superior Court.

Prosecutors argued Gooch was driven by a disdain for the Mennonite faith that he grew up with in Wisconsin, exhibited by text message exchanges with his brothers. Gooch’s attorney tried to raise doubt with jurors that Gooch was responsible. Gooch and Krause didn’t know each other but both grew up in big families and in the Mennonite church, the AP reports. Gooch rejected the faith and enlisted in the Air Force, where he worked as a mechanic. Authorities used cellphone and financial records and surveillance video to tie Gooch to the crimes. "Why was she kidnapped and murdered? I will never understand that in this life," Krause's family said in a statement, per KRQE. "But God in his ultimate wisdom and goodness allowed the devil’s evil plan to proceed. So he in his goodness will not allow her efforts to be wasted."

(More murder stories.)

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