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Reehahlio Carroll Sentenced to 40 Years for Murdering Catholic Nun During Commission of a Burglary on the Navajo Reservation

U.S. Attorney’s Office June 28, 2013
  • District of New Mexico (505) 346-7274

ALBUQUERQUE—Reehahlio Carroll, 21, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation from Navajo, New Mexico, was sentenced this afternoon to 40 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for his second-degree murder conviction. Carroll also was ordered to pay $8,992.25 in restitution. Carroll’s sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, and John Billison, Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

Carroll was arrested in November 2009 based on federal charges arising out of the murder of Sister Marguerite Bartz of the Order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which is part of the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico. The murder occurred on November 1, 2009, during the burglary of Sister Bartz’s home on the Saint Berard Mission which, is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Proceedings in the case were delayed by protracted competency proceedings resulting in a judicial finding that Carroll was competent to stand trial.

Sister Bartz’s body was discovered in a pool of blood in the bedroom of her ransacked home, a double-wide trailer located next to the church, on the evening of November 1, 2009, by a nun who was concerned about Sister Bartz’s failure to show up for mass in the diocese’s church in Sawmill, Arizona. On April 5, 2013, Carroll pled guilty to a felony information charging him with the second-degree murder of Sister Bartz. During his plea hearing, Carroll admitted that he killed Sister Bartz at approximately midnight on November 1, 2009, after he broke into a trailer home on the grounds of the Catholic Church in Navajo for the purpose of stealing cash or items that he could readily sell for cash.

According to court records, after Carroll broke a window to gain access to Sister Bartz’s trailer, he rummaged through drawers and cabinets searching for cash and items of value that he could sell for cash or trade for drugs or alcohol. Carroll found a flashlight in a room that he used for illumination as he continued searching for items to steal. When Carroll encountered Sister Bartz in one of the bedrooms and she attempted to defend herself by hitting him with a slipper, he brutally murdered her by beating her repeatedly with a flashlight and, then, in an attempt to silence her, strangling her with a T-shirt. The pathologist who performed the autopsy concluded that the cause of death was multiple blunt-force head trauma and ligature strangulation.

Carroll was arrested on tribal charges on November 5, 2009, after law enforcement officers learned that he had been observed driving a car that was reported stolen from the Mission’s grounds. Following his arrest, Carroll provided a detailed confession in which he admitted murdering Sister Bartz while burglarizing her home. Carroll remained in tribal custody until he was arrested on federal charges on November 10, 2009.

This case was investigated by the Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI and the Window Rock Police District of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, with assistance from the New Mexico State Police. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Presiliano A. Torrez and Paul H. Spiers.

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