FARMINGTON — Coyotes clawing at the ground near a ditch in Hogback in November 2011 lead a rancher to the body of a 45-year-old Shiprock man who had been reported missing the day before.
Roland Cantsee appeared to have been beaten and then fatally wounded by a blow to the head before he was buried eight miles north of Flowing Water Casino, FBI Special Agent Bradley Michael said in an interview last week.
Two years after his body was found, no one has been arrested in connection to Cantsee's death. And the FBI last month announced a $1,500 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest, according to an FBI news release.
Cantsee's family last saw him Nov. 11, 2011. He was at a relative's home in Shiprock and left to meet with friends, said Lavina Henry, the aunt of Cantsee's wife.
Michael said security camera footage at the Walmart on West Main Street in Farmington shows Cantsee and another man leaving after purchasing a bottle of Crystal Palace vodka later that day.
Then, Michael said, Cantsee went back to the reservation and parted ways with the man he purchased the vodka with.
"And he wound up with some bad people, and that's where we're at," Michael said. "I think he wound up with some bad company and that alone got him killed."
Cantsee's family reported him missing Nov. 26, according to the FBI. His body was found the next day.
Henry said Cantsee's family members were shocked to hear he had been killed.
"We wondered why would somebody do something to him because he was a gentle, loving person and always willing to help," Henry said.
Cantsee didn't have a long criminal history. His only criminal conviction was in Farmington Magistrate Court in August 2010 for misdemeanor drunken driving, according to a state court website.
Michael said FBI investigators have a theory that monthly checks Cantsee received from an Indian tribe may have been a reason for his slaying.
Henry said Cantsee was half Navajo and half Southern Ute.
The Southern Ute payments may have caught the eye of his killers, Michael said.
Michael said the nature of the crime leads investigators to believe more than one person had a role in Cantsee's slaying.
It looked as if people used their hands and feet to beat Cantsee before a weapon was used to deliver a fatal blow to his head, Michael said. It's not clear what type of weapon was used.
The location where the body was found also indicates more than one person would have participated in dumping the body, he said.
"It doesn't look like a one-man job, which means more than one person bears the bulk of the blame," Michael said. "We hope other witnesses would realize this was a person and come forward."
Anyone with information about Cantsee's death is asked to call the Albuquerque FBI at 505-889-1300 or Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety at 505-368-1300 or to send a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.