HAPPY JACK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Several weeks before the body of a 37-year-old northern Arizona woman turned up in a forested area in the Blue Ridge area, the woman’s family members said they started noticing strange behavior.
Facebook messages sent in Tika Young's name seemed out of character. Her live-in boyfriend claimed she left her cell phone and abruptly moved to California for work.
Coconino County Sheriff's Office deputies now say Tika was beaten to death by the boyfriend, 62-year-old Patrick D. Nagel. The state of the woman’s body suggested she had been dead for some time, investigators said.
The victim’s brother believes Nagel impersonated Tika on social media for weeks to cover his tracks.
“The whole time we were getting stories,” said Ian Young. “That’s a callous man to just lie, especially to my mother.”
Ian said relatives wanted deputies to do a welfare check on Nagel’s residence in Happy Jack, but they didn’t have the address. That is until he felt compelled to flip through one of Tika’s old books.
“As I'm going through it, out of the back, this paper falls. And it's got the address of his house and her handwriting in it,” he said.
The family requested the welfare check that day, he said.
According to the family’s timeline, by then deputies had already discovered a decomposed body of a woman in Bly Pit but were unable to identify her. Bly Pit is a disposal area for wood and other green waste. Someone spotted a leg sticking out of a pile of debris and called 911 on March 30.
Detectives served a search warrant on the home Tika and Nagel shared and found “evidence of the crime inside.” Under questioning, investigators said Nagel admitted to striking Tika several times while she was in bed, then moving her body and concealing it in Bly Pit.
Ian said the waste in Bly Pit is typically burned.
“If we had not called and that pit had been set [afire], would we ever have found her? Would this be my question every day? Where's my sister? And would he [Nagel] have got (sic) away with it?” Ian said.
Ian and other relatives said they are extremely grateful to the person who spotted Tika's body and called 911. They're hoping that person will reach out so they can thank them.
Tika was born at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington D.C. while her father served at the Pentagon, the family said.
Relatives said she attended Washington High School in Phoenix and had an infectious laugh. “Hearing it, it set a room off,” Ian said.
The family is still waiting to get her body from the medical examiner.
They said the cost of a funeral will be a financial burden and have set up a GoFundMe, hoping to defray the cost.